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Beyond the Hype: Navigating Social Expectations in University

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

“Work hard, party hard.” This is the motto of most 18-year-olds entering university, ready to experience what is most commonly referred to as the best years of their lives. While academic success and attendance have been expected of us most of our lives, university represents — for the majority of students — the years of social events, endless nights partying and drinking, and mornings spent nursing our hangovers during 8 a.m. classes. 

But for the more shy students, or simply people who don’t feel like socializing on a Friday night and would much rather spend the evening curled up on the couch reading a book, these “social ideals” can at times feel like a heavy form of peer pressure.

This constant pressure and fear of missing out (FOMO) by declining an invitation to a party or a night out can take its toll on someone’s mental health; hence, it’s important to recognize that this lifestyle is not a one-size-fits-all. 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of party culture, especially in North American universities, as someone who doesn’t want to miss out on ways to find friends and have fun. With house parties and nights out being glorified, it can be easy for more academically inclined students to be led to believe that the only way to create connections in college is to go out and come home at 5 a.m., blacked out, but with dozens of new Instagram followers that will most likely not remember you the next day. 

And while some of our most extroverted friends may find solace in going out on the weekends, hanging out with big groups of people and finding all the best bars and clubs to have the night of their lives, it’s important to find the balance that works best for ourselves. If you experience anxiety at the idea of spending your Friday night taking shots at the local bar with your friends, laughing and hanging out until the break of dawn, then maybe it’s time for you to politely decline and spend the night binging your favourite Netflix show instead — and without feeling guilty about it!

Another important problem with the ever-so-present party culture in North American college campuses is the issue of excess. Whether it be saying yes to that fourth shot to take the edge off in the hope of fitting in without feeling anxious or trying to save your last $14 by taking your car down the two blocks to your residence instead of ordering an Uber, studies show that college students are more likely to make poor decisions after a night out. 

While it’s important that you can spend a night relaxing however you feel comfortable after a long semester of stress and never-ending exams, “Having fun in college should not come with life-changing consequences and effects. So whether you’re partying on Halloween weekend or a normal weekend, it is important that we make responsible decisions for not only our safety, but everyone else’s around us,” wrote MyDari Baker, a journalist for The Corsair. 

So whether you simply aren’t a party buddy and value your peace over any party, or if you tend to bathe in the excess of raves and fraternity parties, be gracious with yourself and learn to integrate a lifestyle that fits you, without feeling the pressure of others! And never forget to keep yourself safe, no matter the situation you are in. 

Claire Dufourd

Toronto MU '25

Claire Dufourd is currently in her third year of the journalism program at Toronto Metropolitan University. When she is not chasing leads or reporting on the latest news, you can find her sipping on a strong cup of coffee, enjoying long walks in the Annex, Toronto, or spending time with her beloved golden retriever, Bailey.