Special Issues » Newcomers Guide

How not to look like a freshman

A crash course in mastering drinking, dressing and dancing in college bars



At the start of the semester, every college student who is even somewhat social is going to be out and about at the bars with liquor pitchers in hand. Syllabus week will arrive and it will be better than waking up on Christmas morning. Sure, the smell of stale beer and puke surrounding every inch of the bar and a 20-minute bathroom line might not sound charming, but it surely is.

Being reunited with friends and all of that other crap is great, but the highlight of going out during syllabus week (and during the first half of the semester, if we're being honest here) is the pure entertainment freshman obliviously provide upperclassmen. From the childish outfit choices and the intensely sexual dance moves to the Snapchat addiction and the Blue Long Islands, let's just say the whole attitude that 18-year-olds carry into a college bar needs major help.


First things first: College bars aren't clubs. Understanding this is a major key to mastering collegiate nightlife. And you're not going to prom or homecoming. So for the ladies, here's What Not To Wear, College Edition: tight dresses, booty shorts, high heels and wedges, bright-colored eyeshadow and other dramatic makeup choices. The more casually you dress, the older people will think you are. (Guys seem to master this earlier than girls, but they should heed the next two pieces of advice just as much.)


Other than very poor fashion choices, there are other red flags identifying freshman before they can even make their way into the bar. Showing up right when doors open means you are either an upperclassman alcoholic or a thirsty freshman (and not thirsty for a beverage, if you know what I mean). And once you do make your way in at a reasonable hour, don't order a Long Island Iced Tea; it's like turning on a big neon sign over your head that says "I MAKE POOR DECISIONS." Try to pace yourself. You can loosen up without ending up in a puddle on the sidewalk on your way home.


No matter how much you like a song, this is not a high-school dance, so do not even think about grinding on someone. You're in college. There will be no pelvic thrusting in the bar. (Save that for the dance nights – see page 79.) And keep in mind, plenty of other people in the bar are new to this scene too. You don't need to use Snapchat as a defense mechanism to avoid human contact and awkward communication. Stop taking a ton of pictures and singing into your phone for a "cool" snap story. Keep your phone put away and try to socialize like a normal person. That's what you're there for, right?

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