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4 Alternatives to Going Out and Partying in College

Going out doesn’t always have to be about getting sloppy and drunk.
September 14, 2017
7 mins read

The typical college stereotype: Students spend the majority of their time partying, drinking and doing stupid things in between. Forget class and an education, students really spend the big bucks to leave home and go wild, at least that’s what people want college-goers to believe. I thought this before I left for college, because that’s what I heard from family, friends and the mainstream media. And while my school has a decent amount of partying opportunities, I don’t want to do them on a weekly basis.

Crowded rooms with music I’ve never heard of and hearing horrendous pick-up lines repeatedly definitely isn’t my cup of tea. Once I figured that out, I thought I wasn’t going to have a social life on campus, and it terrified me; there’s only so many Netflix shows I could watch by myself. I soon learned the party culture stigma surrounding college isn’t for everyone, at least not every weekend. Luckily, I soon discovered some alternatives to “going out” in college.

Binging Shows and Movies with Friends

Although watching TV seems like something you can easily do on your own, it gets boring after a while. It’s better if you have a buddy or two to join you on the emotional journey of your favorite TV shows. The same goes with movies: A girl can only watch so many rom-coms or thrillers alone, but eventually you need someone to scream at the TV with you when Andie and Ben’s hidden agendas erupt in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”

With so many streaming services available, the opportunities are endless. My roommate and I started watching “Game of Thrones” when we moved in a few weeks ago, and that’s how we spent our first few weekends on campus. My nights were filled with laughs, anger and plenty of tears while watching “GoT,” but I can guarantee I would not be able to watch the show alone. Now that I’ve officially caught up, it’s been hard finding another show to binge and live up to the standard that “GoT” set.

Taking Advantage of Campus Events 

Campuses’ have so many things to offer their students. I remember when I toured different campuses, I asked myself, “How could someone do everything on campus in four years?” Some rec centers had rock climbing walls, canoe classes in the pools or decade-themed dance classes, and there always seems to be some type of sporting event going on to promote school spirit. Other campuses have student-run organizations that throw events almost every weekend, which range from paint and sip events or DIY classes, to giant game nights, like bingo or “Family Feud.”

A great pro for most campus sponsored events: There’s usually some type of free food, and what college student doesn’t love that? Most schools even bring in musicians to perform once or twice a year, the popularity of whom often depends on the size of the school and its budget for student entertainment. My school had Thomas Rhett play last spring, and I can’t wait to find out who’s playing here this year. If your school is on the smaller side, don’t worry. The first school I went to didn’t have the capacity to host a large-scale concert, but they did bring in speakers, mentalists and hypnotists to entertain students on a Friday night. Make sure you’re looking around your campus for flyers about what’s going on, and don’t be afraid to join in.

Host A Dinner Party

Making dinner seems like an everyday task, but it can also be a fun get-together for friends. You can plan a potluck dinner with your friend group and assign everyone to bring a different type of dish; this way you’re not stuck making all the food, and you get to try everyone else’s delicious cooking. If you like doing the cooking, you can host a themed dinner party for whatever style cuisine you’re feeling that night. Maybe even make it a monthly thing and change the menu every time.

The opportunities are endless here because there are so many recipes, and you can even use this time to create one of your own. Even if you’re in a dorm and don’t have access to an oven or stove, you and your floor mates can still have a great meal together. There are so many minimal-ingredient recipes that can be done with a crockpot, or even a microwave; this is where the real creativity begins.

Going Out Without Going Out 

There’s no need to stay in all the time because you could go stir crazy eventually, so go out and treat yourself. Get dressed up and go to a nice dinner with friends or a local fest in town. Go see the new blockbuster hit that you’ve been dying to see. Create your own definition for going out, even if it’s just going to get some ice cream. Take advantage of what your local town has to offer or travel to another one. Last year as my friends and I were dying of boredom during one of our Midwestern winters, we took a mini road trip to a nearby town to see the Christmas lights and window shop around a mall. To most the trip may seem like an everyday occurrence, but for us it was a trip off campus and somewhere new to explore.

While all these events seem like something you can easily do any day of the week, they’re also ones you can elaborate on and make into a whole night celebration. You can even tie all these events together. Plan a themed meal around a favorite movie. Make breakfast for dinner and watch “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and a few of Audrey Hepburn’s other classics. After you see a speaker’s presentation on campus, go get ice cream with some friends. The possibilities are endless. No one says you can’t go out and party in college, but no one also says you have to. Decide what works for you and maybe switch it up a bit along the way.

Lauren Clohessy, Northern Illinois University

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Lauren Clohessy

Northern Illinois University

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