Let me start off by sounding like a crotchety old person and say that college drinking isn’t fun in the traditional sense. There’s not much glory in it. People in stupid hats will spill their drinks all over you. You’ll witness a lot of people crying in the fetal position. You’ll participate conversations that make you question your faith in humanity. You’ll look back on all this and feel like kind of an idiot.
That said, being an idiot during college is an American rite of passage, and if you’re going to drink, you might as well do it without wrecking your GPA. And hey, if you manage your drinking well enough, you might be right for a promising career in finance.
Without further ado:
1. Make peace with the fact that you’re going to give up sleep and act accordingly. In college, you get to choose two of these three things: good grades, a social life, and sleep. Don’t try to have it all. It’s impossible.
2. Rehydrate while you’re out. It’s obvious advice, but no one listens to it—which is insane. Carry a Nalgene that matches your sky-high heels if you must. Anyone who makes fun of you is an amateur.
3. Unless you decide to inundate yourself with part-time jobs and extracurricular activities (and if that’s the case, may the good lord be with you), take advantage of the surprising amount of study time you’ll have during the day. If you treat school like your 9-to-5 job, you’ll be able to go out feeling like you might get one when you graduate.
4. Some nights, decide that you have to finish this one thing before you leave your dorm room. Tell the people you’re planning to go out with about the personal challenge you’ve given yourself so that they cheer you on.
5. On that note, avoid making friends with morally reprehensible people. That’s difficult as a freshman, but you have to believe it’s possible. Stop thinking about who looks cool and find people who won’t act like you’re being a horrible friend when you do decide to stay in and study. You need people who won’t put your shenanigans on the internet or let you pass out in the driveway of a sketchy house party.
6. Start early and end early. Get your heavy drinking done at the beginning of the night so that you’re not completely wasted by the time you get home; you’ll sleep better and you won’t blearily set your alarm to 8 p.m. It might seem like you’re being lame by not staying out until four in the morning, but frankly, you don’t want to be around at the end of the night anyway. 99% of the time, the end of the night is made up of vomit, tears, and embarrassingly bad Mexican food.
7. Find your hangover foods—the foods that do to you what spinach did to Popeye—and stock up on them the moment you run out.
8. Do your best to not to schedule any classes on Fridays or before noon. You might think you’ll have the discipline to make that 8 a.m. economics class that sounded really cool while you were at orientation, but you’re probably wrong.
9. Don’t reveal your partying to your professors by showing up to class looking completely disheveled and reeking of alcohol. They won’t think it’s cute. If you must, take a cold shower and slap on a pair of big sunglasses before you come to class. At least you’ll look like you’re trying to participate in civilized society.
10. Do whatever you can to stay emotionally stable. Make time for at least one hobby; put on your favorite music and go running; talk to a counselor; talk to your parents (if they happen to be emotionally stable). Otherwise, you’re going to become destructive when you’re drunk, and the aftermath will give you that much more to deal with.
11. Be really nice to your classmates so they’ll send you copies of their notes when you screw up and sleep in too late. Also, if you notice someone who’s obviously struggling, offer to help. Hot messes: You’re all in this together.