Social and Behavioral Sciences


College social life is a fascinating and complex phenomenon. 18-22 year olds get out into the real world and experience freedom, discover new opportunities, and encounter ideas and philosophies that can test their presuppositions. Often, this comes with living away from parental/guardian supervision and meeting many new people. While it is an undoubtedly exciting and formative time in one’s life, it can also be extremely challenging. The pressure to fit in and managing newfound independence and responsibility proves to be a lot for anyone to handle at once. To make things more difficult, students are thrown into a world that can mirror broader society in general, but is often quite different from what they have previously experienced. They are surrounded by people their own age, with myriad potential sexual partners, and relatively easy access to alcohol and drugs. Students experience their first real taste of agency, and choices abound. One common way that people socialize is through partying. This allows students to meet friends of the same and opposite sex in a loose, pleasurable environment while freely enjoying drinking, dancing, listening to music, playing drinking games, experimenting with recreational drugs, and engaging in casual sexual encounters should they wish to. Parties can be extremely popular or commonplace, and the desire to belong and conform to the high status crowd can effectively lead to people feeling a need to participate. As a result, parties have established a place in the “typical” college experience and are worthy of further investigation. The purpose of this project is to explore college party life, people’s experiences of it, and the pros and cons of such activity. By using a social psychological orientation, I will attempt to peel back the layers of youth culture, race, class, gender, sexuality, societal norms/standards, psychological well-being, and deviant behavior to uncover why people engage in college partying and what they get out it. And ultimately, is it worth it? Of course this can only be answered subjectively, but that is not the aim of this paper. However, by trying to objectively study the micro and macro factors in play, hopefully a fuller perspective emerges that encapsulates ideology and reasoning from numerous disciplines. After exploring interdisciplinary research extensively, conclusions will be drawn for future research and possible proactive intervention strategies for universities, communities, and broader society. The author’s opinions and views will be proffered after the literature review, along with overall takeaways from the project.