When you go to college, you'll find that drinking alcohol is a common extracurricular activity. If you are a college student that doesn’t drink, there are still plenty of things that you can do to fill your free time. You may feel like you are going to be an outcast, but if you make the right choices and schedule your social time, your chances of being successful in college are far greater.
It's true that choosing the right friend group is half of the battle. The right attitude and a strategic approach to finding alcohol-free activities will provide you with a positive direction.
Consider these five things that you can do when you don’t drink.
1. Get Involved on Campus
One of the best parts of college is the wide variety of campus organizations that are designed to help students get involved and build leadership skills. Select several different groups that are of interest to you and try them out. Most groups meet on campus, and in addition to making friends, you will have something new to add to your resume. Filling your time with productive, social activities is a great idea if you are a college student that doesn’t drink. If you aren’t really a joiner, consider attending campus events in your free time. Most campuses have free movies, lectures, cultural nights and bands. Typically, campus events are alcohol-free.
2. Focus on Studying
If you are wondering what to do when you don’t drink, how about studying? Being a college student is really like a full-time job. College classes are more challenging and the need to study is far greater than in high school. Believe it or not, studying can actually be fun. Start a study group for one of your more difficult classes, or ask someone in one of your classes if they would like to study together. Pick out different places to study on and off-campus to break things up. Think about how far ahead you'll be if you spend more of your free time preparing for an upcoming exam or reading.
3. Plan an Alcohol Free Event
Just because everyone around you may be planning to go out and drink on Friday night, doesn’t mean that you have to sit at home alone. Consider planning an alcohol-free event for your dorm floor. You can hold a video game tournament in the floor lounge or binge watch a Netflix series with some friends. If you're a college student that doesn’t drink, you can still have fun, and why not be the one who spearheads the alcohol-free event? Talk to your Resident Assistant and you may even get some school funds to buy snacks for your event.
4. Volunteer in Your Community
If you're not sure what to do when you don’t want to drink, look into volunteer opportunities. Often, colleges have community service offices that are eagerly looking for students that are willing to volunteer in the community. Perhaps you would like to be in a big brother/little brother program or help plan youth activities in the community. Volunteering is an excellent way to get involved in something that's meaningful and will help you make connections with other people that have similar interests. Choosing an alternative to drinking will give you something to do and help you network with like-minded people.
5. Don’t Drink at College Parties
Just because you don’t drink at college parties does not mean that you have to stay home on the weekends. Don’t be afraid to go to a college party and drink soda or water. You can even go out with a group of friends and volunteer to be the sober driver. Show your friends that it is possible to be the life of the party and remain sober. In addition to having fun, you can watch out for your friends and you won’t have to deal with a hangover or sleeping the next day away.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.