College is a time of self-discovery and development; it’s also a time of excessive binge drinking and firm denials of one’s own alcoholism. As such, it’s only natural for these two worlds to collide during your four (or more, no judgement) years of school.
Drinking habits change over time; you’re not going to be the same alcohol guzzler at 22 that you were at 18. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice you go through four distinct drinking stages in college.
Shall we take a look at them?
Freshman year isn’t about acclimating to college; it isn’t about growing as a person or getting good grades. Freshman year is about one thing and one thing only: beer.
Even with a fake ID, the most accessible alcohol at 18-years-old will always be beer. It’s cheap, you can buy it in bulk and it’s easily divided amongst a group of thirsty dorm-mates. There’s a reason the freshman 15 exists and it doesn’t have anything to do with campus food. It’s all from those beer calories in your liquid diet.
Now there are certain upsides to this emphasis on beer. As I mentioned, it’s cheap and easy to get for the most part. It’s perfect for binge drinking carried out over several days as one is wont to do with their first taste of freedom. It also lends itself well to all manners of drinking games, which occupies quite a bit of your focus freshman year. The downside is you’ll be forced to walk around with a bloated gut all night and the Over/Under for your piss breaks is set at five.
Still, beer is that old friend who’s always there for you.
Okay, now you have a year of college drinking under your belt. You’re a little older, a little wiser, and that Sociology class you took last semester convinced you that you’re a high-functioning member of society (you’re not). You can’t still be stuck in the doldrums of low class beer drinking at this stage in your life.
Sophomore year is usually the time you start getting into hard liquor. Fraternities are throwing bottles and bondage parties, off-campus ragers are popping off and you just don’t have the time or the unsophisticated palate to slug 13 beers. You need something a little bit more…mature.
Hard liquor gets the job done like no other. Instead of drinking beer over several hours, you can drink several shots in one hour. You get drunker quicker and aren’t left with that nauseating beer after taste. The only downside is…you get drunker quicker, often make a fool of yourself and are left with debilitating hangovers.
Aw snap. You’re 21 now, get after it!
The 21 mark is practically holy territory here in the States. After you hit that birthday, you still drink copious amounts of alcohol, only now you do it in a retail business establishment that serves alcoholic beverages rather than in someone’s seedy basement. Yeah, you fancy, huh?
Once you start hitting the bar scene, your drink of choice may change. Instead of beer or shots of fireball, you may become interested in actual cocktails. I’m talking Old Fashions, Moscow Mules, Martinis and all that good stuff. These drinks really do taste better and you come to appreciate the act of slowly sipping rather than pounding at furious speeds. The big downside about the bar scene, however, is that it is expensive AF. You try going out in New York City these days without dropping a Benjamin.
I’m not saying you don’t still go hard your senior year, it’s just…not quite as hard for a lot of students. Before, if your buddy asked you to get hammered on a Tuesday night, you didn’t hesitate. But senior year, your priorities may have changed. Responses like “Sorry man, I’m hanging out with my girl tonight” or “Can’t bro, I’ve got my internship tomorrow morning” are uttered with much more frequency at this stage in your life.
Yes, of course you still hit the bar and take shots and chug beer every now and then. But you’re more likely to enjoy a few beers while watching The Walking Dead than go on a week long bender. It’s all just part of growing up…unfortunately.