Turning 21 can be one of the most exciting times during your college career, especially if you’re waiting for the day to legally just enjoy a beer with dinner. This milestone number represents a new found freedom, which can also come with some heavy consequences and choices. While a large majority of students drink underage, once you turn 21 any type of alcohol you desire will be readily accessible at your fingertips at all times. It is an exciting time to be able to legally enter a bar or restaurant and drink alcohol for the first time but you should strong avoid overdoing it, especially in the first few months when it is exciting and a new way to have fun for you.
Here are some tips to help you manage your class work and your night life:
- Work comes first. No matter how tempting it may be to make Tuesday night’s margarita special, school work needs to come first. If you must go out and celebrate a friend’s birthday or attend a sorority mixer take advantage of lunch and afternoon class breaks to finish up any assignments. Finish up a paper early so that you can have time to still have fun later. Remember your GPA can be seriously affected by only one class. Drinking and hanging out at the bar with friends is fun, but will not be worth it when you see your grades start to slowly decline. If your roommate or friends are constantly pressuring you to go out during your study or homework time, consider telling them how you feel or finishing up school work at the computer lab or library.
- Prepare in advance. If you know a major test is coming up on a Monday, but plan on being out and about drinking all weekend, make sure you begin preparing way in advance. Chances are if you’re a newbie drinker you will mostly likely over do it and be hung over most of the weekend. While you think you might be able to study, the only thing you will be concentrating on is trying to get rid of a splitting headache after a long night out. Not to mention you may be out until 2 am, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, the three most popular nights that college students consume alcohol. Make sure you know your test material before you go out. If the test is extremely critical to your grades consider toning it down for the weekend and pick one night to go out instead of all weekend, or make it an early night.
- Stick to weekend fun. Why? Because eventually your late nights will leave you sleep deprived. Maybe you think you will just go out an hour or two a few nights a week. Chances are once you get there and you’re having fun the time will just pass you by. Before you know it, it’s one a.m. and you have to get up for an early morning class, or you stay way past happy hour and now feel exhausted for the night. Even if you think you can skip your eight a.m. classes or any occasional assignment here or there, it might not be the best choice, especially if you get into the habit of staying up late during the week and the weekends. Your lack of sleep will leave you not only tired but unable to focus or concentrate on your classes or homework and it will begin to take a toll on your health as well.
A smart balance between visiting the local dive bar and studying should be followed. While you will have a lifetime to try mixed drinks at the bar, college is short lived and a huge investment to be wasted down the drain at the local pub.
Melissa Kluska is Public Relations Coordinator for St. Jude Retreats – a non 12 step alternative to conventional alcohol and drug rehab.