Staying sober in college isn’t common, but it’s a choice I’m proud I made — and actually stuck to. 

At first, it felt a bit strange to be the only sober person in my friend group. I’ll admit: Being the designated driver got old after a while and I did sometimes feel the pull to sip on a beer just to fit in. But despite the occasional temptations to drink alcohol alongside my friends, staying sober in college was surprisingly easy for me. The reason for this was because I was able to think big picture and see all the ways staying sober was benefitting me. 

The many ways that being sober made my time in college more enjoyable far outweighed my desire to drink alcohol.

The many ways that being sober made my time in college more enjoyable far outweighed my desire to drink alcohol and risk waking up with a headache the next morning, or worse. 

If you’re considering staying sober in college, I highly encourage you to give it a try. The following five benefits of being sober in college are just a handful of reasons why I’m glad I didn’t drink alcohol or do drugs.    

It saved me money.

One of the more practical ways being sober in college benefitted me was that I saved so much money by not ordering rounds of expensive cocktails at the campus bar. 

The money I saved by not drinking alcohol was put towards activities I’d remember forever, like traveling Broadway shows at the campus auditorium and gas money for hiking trips with friends. Plus, because I always had a clear head at bars, there was less danger of someone stealing my phone or wallet without my noticing. 

I never had to miss class.

The biggest perk of not drinking in college was that I never dealt with hangovers after a night out. Even if I was tired after a late night with friends, I never suffered from pounding headaches or nausea. I never had to miss class because of a hangover, and I participated more in class discussions than I would have had I felt under the weather. 

Plus, my solid attendance record put me in my professors’ good books. When I was applying for scholarships and internships, I could count on my professors to write me heartfelt letters of recommendation. Thanks to their letters of rec, I was given the opportunity to study abroad, intern at a local magazine, and more.    

I had a clear head for tests. 

Because my college years were blissfully hangover-free, I had a clear head not only on test days but during the weeks leading up to big tests too. I had the energy and ability to buckle down and study hard for exams, and I never went into tests wondering if I was prepared enough. 

I knew I was prepared. Had I shown up to my final exams with a hangover, I’m not sure I could have powered through. And getting poor grades on my exams likely would’ve meant having to retake a class or two, which would’ve cost me lots of time and money. 

It showed me who my real friends were. 

Since I didn’t drink in college, I never felt pressured to fit in or do what everyone else was doing. I figured if I was going to go through college sober, there was no reason to hide who I was or try to change myself to fit in. 

My sobriety made me stick out anyways, so why not own it? This mentality served me well and I met so many incredible people who accepted me for who I was. I never had any doubts that they liked me just as I was. There was no “Party Claire” to compare with “Sober Claire” — there was just me, Claire. And that’s the only person my friends wanted to hang out with. 

It made me more confident. 

When I met new friends, I told them from the get-go that I preferred to hang out sober. Initially, I expected people to be put off by this. I assumed some people would write me off as being boring and not want to hang out with me. But to my surprise, no one batted an eyelash at my sobriety. This in turn made me more confident in other areas of my life. 

 It felt like I’d jumped over a big hurdle by being honest about not wanting to drink, so why not keep going and tackle the other scary things standing in my way? 

It started with little things, like cutting my hair shorter than usual, and escalated to life-changing decisions, like traveling solo for the first time when studying abroad and deciding to move to NYC after college. The seemingly small decision to be open and honest with people about wanting to experience college sober snowballed into my becoming a more confident woman because of it. 

If, like me, you’ve realized that being sober in college is best for you, don’t be afraid to tell your friends about your decision. There are so many things to do off-campus besides go to a bar, and I guarantee you and your friends will make just as many memories (if not more!) together sans alcohol.