Peer pressure: How college life can change you

By on April 15, 2009

Now that the end of the year is approaching, I have been doing some reflecting on the person I was before I came to Quinnipiac and if that person has changed after this year. Everyone says college determines who you become, but what they fail to mention is that peer pressure does not die in high school.

“I love college, I love drinking.” That song by Asher Roth is a perfect example of how the word “college,” for many people, is synonymous with the consumption of mass amounts of alcohol. And hey, if there is ever a time to drink irresponsibly in your life, it should be in college. Because stumbling down the streets of New Haven inebriated when you are not a college student just gives off the impression you’re a homeless alcoholic. However, while alcohol seems to symbolize our freedom from parents and actual society, I sometimes wonder if we take it to the next level just to live up to the college stereotype.

Sure, getting drunk can relieve stress and lead to a funny story, but I am sure there are people that sometimes don’t feel like drinking, but they do because that’s what everyone else is doing. For my own personal reasons I choose not to drink, and I am lucky to have found friends who completely respect and never question my decision. However, I would be lying if I said everyone is that understanding of my choice.

When I tell girls I don’t drink, they’ll respond with a “oh that’s so good.” but I can see by their facial expression that they are making a mental note never to have too much around me because I’ll remember. Guys usually give me a hard time or say “I respect that” and then ask me if I want a drink five minutes later. A lot of times I have just wanted to give in, “fine hand me a beer,” and at some parties I will hold an empty solo cup to avoid the awkward conversation.

And I know that I am not the only person who feels the pressure. The National Bureau of Economic Research has found that males that drank frequently before college who were assigned a roommate that also drank frequently had lower GPAs by two-thirds of a point. Boys are just as susceptible to peer pressure as girls; it is especially hard for guys to be studious and not be given a hard time about it. I see males in the library, so I know they study. Yet guys like to say “Oh, I actually really studied for this test I hope I do well,” which implies that in other instances they were too cool to “actually study.”

Another big issue in college is weight. Everyone says that you gain the “freshman 15,” but I feel like I know just as many people who picked up an eating disorder when they got to college. Look around and you can tell there are a lot of thin girls at Quinnipiac, so for those who are built differently it is hard not to feel pressure to be thin. I know a lot of girls who came to school with a love for their curves, but after living with a roommate who only eats lettuce it’s hard not to scrutinize.

I also wonder if people’s individual style has been altered after coming to school. What came first, The North Face or Quinnipiac? There is nothing wrong with popular clothing. I just hope that there is not a student out there that has a really unique outfit that they never wear out of fear that they might stand out too much.

Peer pressure is something we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives, and in tight living conditions it is easy to see how the behaviors of others can influence our decisions. However, the choice is up to you. You can either let those influences alter who you are or you can learn from other people’s decisions and make a stronger definition of yourself.

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