The Non-Drinker’s Guide To College


I am, in all honesty, a big ol’ nerd when it comes to alcohol. I don’t drink for a variety of reasons, some of which are personal, but mostly because I am a human being who usually works on weekend mornings and likes being able to drive home whenever I want.

Of course, I’m not here to say “oh drinking is BAD don’t do it!!” because: who cares really. I’m just here to share my tips on how to enjoy your College Experience (or you know, just your weekend), even if you don’t drink.


Honestly, 100% the biggest piece of advice I have on this topic is: choose friends who respect you and the choices you make. I’ve been lucky enough to make some really great friends who, even when they drink, have never pressured me to do so. If you hang out with people who support you, it doesn’t matter if they blow off steam in a different way than you do, you can all still have a good time. (This sounds very cheesy but it’s fucking true.)


It can be really helpful to think through why you’re choosing not to drink, even if that’s just why you’re not drinking on that specific night. Coming into it with the attitude of “this is a choice I’m making for myself” and being confident about it is really helpful if you’re going to be in an environment where there’s pressure/temptation to drink. Try to avoid thinking there’s a specific “right way” to have fun in college, because movies about young adults are full of lies anyway! Potential reasons:

  • driving
  • needing to be somewhere (and function) in the morning
  • general health & well being — I’ve never had a hangover but I hear they’re Bad News
  • bad history or relationship with alcohol
  • it’s cheap! water is free and alcohol is not free, so uh
  • it smells gross?

This isn’t to say you can never change your mind or your plans or anything; I just know that, nine times out of ten, I feel better when I stick to what I actually want. Even if you don’t have some big dramatic reason for wanting to do things a certain way, just trusting yourself and doing it your way can be very validating. (And this applies to life in general as well as your social life.)


There is so much you can do for free/cheap that doesn’t revolve around drinking! You are a lovely, interesting being, and it would be a mistake to say that you are trapped in a life of boring stress garbage just because of a dry night. Here are some ideas for things to do that aren’t alcohol-centric:

  • documentary (or any other themed) movie night
  • walk/bike around + take pictures if you want + maybe press flowers
  • baking! (for example, tiny adorable cupcake pies or even just boxed brownies. i recently made some REALLY GOOD brownies from a ghirardelli mix with nuts + caramel, highly recommend just curling up in the kitchen)
  • art night! hang out with your friends and draw/paint/collage/craft yr little hearts out

If you’re not drinking but everyone else is, I usually find I have the most fun if I cut out around the time people start getting a lil ~wild~, but that’s also because I pretty much stop having fun and want to go home and sleep as soon as the clock starts reading AM. You may not be channeling grandma vibes quite as strong as I am though, and that’s cool too.