Can you make the grades without missing the party?


By Kendall Tich


It has been said a million times that college is the “best four years of your life.”

When I first got to USD, my plans were to achieve a 4.0 GPA and become involved in a multitude of clubs and organizations while also maintaining somewhat of a social life.

Little did I know, however, that having a social life in college is almost nonexistent without the weekend trek down to Mission Beach to attend college parties.

Having lived in a large city with an avid nightlife, the partying scene is not new to me. However, for many college students, this is their first time away from the supervision and restrictions of their parents, causing them to participate in excessive partying once they get to school.

While many thrive in social settings with a little liquid courage, others are often brought down academically and socially by the party culture. Others choose to avoid the party scene altogether due to lack of interest or fear of getting wrapped up in the wrong parties or with the wrong people.

With these parties come the prominence of alcohol and binge drinking as well as experimentation with drugs.

According to the Core Institute, the US’ largest national statistics database on alcohol and drug use by college students, 73 percent of college students drink at least occasionally.

Most college students are not legally permitted to drink until their junior or senior year of college, meaning that underage students account for a large part of this percentage.

So what is so enticing about attending a college party? Is it the freedom to stay out late, the opportunity to make friends or the pressure by peers to fit a certain college image?

For freshmen, transfers and those who want to make some new friends, partying seems to be a good option.

“Attending college parties is a fun way to meet new people and take a break from school,” junior Nicole Steinmetz said.

At a school as small as USD, a place where friend groups are formed rather quickly and students tend to stick with those they know, many students use parties as ways to meet new people and make new friends. In fact, I have found that it is very difficult to make new friends unless you have parties and events to meet them at and talk to them about.

While this varies from person to person, there appears to be an underlying pressure to head down to Mission Beach every weekend to attend college parties and get-togethers.

Many would argue that although there is a noticeable party scene at USD, it is far different from those of other universities.

“USD is different from a lot of other schools in that there are less frat houses and heels and more just friends hanging out at the beach,” senior Siena Pugnale said.

Because we do not have convenient access to parties in fraternity or sorority houses, students are forced to attend smaller parties at people’s beach houses or apartments. This allows for more intimate get-togethers in which meeting and maintaining friends becomes easier and more accessible.

However, these small parties do not account for those who are not a part of those small groups, meaning that on any given weekend, there can be dozens of college students roaming the streets of Mission Beach after a few drinks searching for somewhere to make friends.

These small group gatherings can quickly escalate and get out of control, which can have a negative impact on academics.

In fact, 31 percent of college students missed a class due to substance abuse and 22 percent tanked an exam or essay, according to the Core Statistics.

Although it is hard to know just how much substance abuse from college parties affects students at USD, it is clear that is does exist and can have detrimental affects on students’ educations.

“I feel like partying can be ok in moderation but students should be careful about getting caught up in the party scene and letting it get in the way of the primary reason why we are here,” junior Jenna Palazzo said.

While most students agree that partying is better when done in moderation, there are still others who use drinking as a way to escape the reality of school or work-related stress. Even though many of them are aware of the consequences that excessive partying can have on academic life, some students still choose to participate in excessive drinking and drug use.

Aside from partying affecting academic life, it can also lead to intentional or unintentional involvement in criminal activity or run-ins with the police. This can come in the form of MICs (Minor in Consumption) or MIPs (Minor in Possession), both of which can end up appearing on your permanent record. Neither your parents nor your future employers will be pleased with those charges.

While many students view partying in moderation as good alternative to taking it too far every weekend, others still choose to stay clear of the party scene altogether.

“I never really got into going to parties in college because I got over that in high school,” junior Cameron Brown said.

This tends to be a common view among USD students who come from places where high school parties were prevalent and accepted.

For other students who grew up in big cities, it’s easy to be turned off by college parties, viewing them as less sophisticated than attending bars or clubs downtown.

Although students hold many different views on partying in college, it is obvious that there are consequences even though partying seems to becoming more and more prominent and accepted on college campuses.

It still seems to be the most popular way to meet new people and make friends during our four years here. As long as partying is done in moderation in a responsible way in which participators are aware of the possible consequences it may have on their academics and lives in general, it will remain a fun and entertaining social activity.