Don’t let the party school reputation scare you

By Karen Liu , Summer Editor-In-Chief

Two years ago, before I ever stepped foot on campus, I did what many incoming freshman would do: I googled University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, hoping to get a vague idea of the place I would call home for the next four years.

Over 30 million results turned up. As I scrolled through the pages, a particular theme seemed to stand out. Many headlines along the line of “UIUC ranked among the top party schools in the country” caught my eye.

I didn’t know how to feel about that.

If you are anything like me, the thought of a college party is both exciting and intimidating. A picture with red solo cups, loud music and colorful drinks started to form in my mind. I’d be lying to say I wasn’t looking forward to being a part of the party scene.

As the summer rolled around and I finally got to see the campus for the first time, I was determined to make the most out of my time at the University, and that meant both academically and socially. Like many freshmen around me, I was eager to go out and find my crowd at a college party.

With a relatively light freshman year workload, I spent many Friday and Saturday nights with my newly found friends scouring the campus for parties. With bar admission for those 19 and older, we had to work hard to live up to the expectations of being a student at one of the top party schools around.

It took a while, but eventually my enthusiasm for parties died down.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast. But it came to a point where other aspects of my life caught up with me, and I simply decided to not spend every weekend at parties just because they were available.

For a while, I was worried my social life was going to take a hit. Seeing so many people around me having crazy party nights as if it’s the first week of freshman year made me feel insecure about losing my friends and becoming “the boring one,” but at the same time I was having a hard time pushing myself to go out as much as I used to.

However, I slowly discovered that my life changed for the better once I stopped pushing myself to go out just because I somehow felt obligated to be a part of the “top party school.” It was a liberating feeling to realize it is okay to party as much as I feel comfortable with.

Coming to a “party school” means that if you want to party every night, you’ll probably be able to. And it sometimes is a helpful resource, in fact, to help blow off some steam and let loose from the college stress.

But if you are someone who doesn’t like the idea of being with a crowd, or just simply can’t appreciate the music kids play at party these days (trust me, that happens), or because you have a busy schedule so that it’s hard to make time for parties every week, remember it is okay to make your own decisions.

The bottom line is, don’t ever feel like you are obligated to be a part of the “party scene” just because the University has its name on a list. There is so much more the school has to offer.

And don’t be afraid to let people know that you don’t feel comfortable going out. On a campus this size, you will always find people who are in the same situation as you. Who knows, maybe you will bond with your best friend over your mutual dislike of going to parties.

Also remember to never feel bad for taking a step back like I did. As much as I often look back on my freshman year parties fondly, I know I’ve made the right decision to spend more time on other aspects of my college life.

After all, it’s all about the balance. Even when it comes to parties.

Karen is a junior in Media.

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