“Hungover” is not a Great Brand

I probably partied too much in college. And in the process, I learned that motivation is not a common characteristic of a hung over college student. Many college graduates, I’m sure, would echo that sentiment.

I’m writing about this not because I am a perfect example, but because drinking too much is a common reason young adults fail in college. This topic is an important one when it comes to young adults and personal branding.

Binge drinking is a common practice on college campuses around the nation. And according the this New York Times article, party colleges are doing little to curb binge-drinking culture.

A few statistics* related to college campuses and drinking:

  • sb313Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking.
  • Assault: More than 696,000 students have been assaulted by a student who has been drinking.
  • Unsafe Sex: 400,000 students had unprotected sex and more than 100,000 students say they were too intoxicated to know if they gave consent.
  • Drunk Driving: 2.1 million students  drove under the influence last year.
  • Vandalism: About 11 percent of college student drinkers report that they have damaged property while drinking.
  • Police Involvement: About 5 percent of students are involved with the police or campus security as a result of drinking.
  • Death: 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related injuries.


Of course you can have fun in college, but don’t overdo it.  As individuals we can make choices about how we are using the short amount of time we have at college. There are thousands of resources and opportunities at your fingertips, so take advantage.

The Aftermath of Binge Drinking

I spent four years at college and I have seen some pretty graphic examples of binge drinking.  I won’t go into detail, but instead pose a series of questions for you to consider.

Because of drinking, have you ever:

Slept through class?
sb311Been hung over at work?
Skipped assignments?
Blacked out or forgot what happened?
Had inappropriate photos tagged of you on Facebook?
Bombed networking events because you had too many drinks?
Spent too much money?
Lost something valuable?
Thrown up?
Got in a fight?
Lost a friend?
Had people talk badly about you?
Missed out on career-enhancing opportunities?
Got a lower grade?
Felt negatively about your body image?
Hooked up with someone and then regretted it?
Got arrested?
Went to detox?
Got a drinking ticket?
Had to pay a fine?
Lost your license?

If binge drinking negatively affects your grades, your accomplishments, your friends, or your quality of life, is it worth it?

This is not a Lecture

I am a recent UW-Madison graduate, and I know all about the fantastic time that college is. Seriously, have fun. Enjoy the freedom and fun and new relationships that college brings. Make memories and take risks.

But please take my advice into consideration. I know from first-hand experience that too much partying can trigger regret. You don’t want to look back on college and feel like you didn’t take advantage of all the opportunities available to you. Honestly, I cannot count the amount of times I have said “I wish I would have done ‘this’ or ‘that’ at Madison.” Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t a flop in college. I wrote for the school paper, joined professional organizations, studied abroad, had a great internship and graduated with a degree I love.  But, I also would have loved to spend time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or taken dance lessons. I should have joined Hoofers and went skiing and camping and been outdoorsy with my classmates. I had the time and the resources, I just didn’t always use them to my advantage.

It’s All About Balance

The topic of “not drinking too much” all boils down to a subjective and personal judgment. I can’t tell you how many drinks is enough or too much, or tell you what your library to bar night ratio should be. But I can tell you that it is all about balance. Work on developing yourself as an adult and framing your personal brand. Join student and professional organizations, connect with professors and don’t skip class. (Honestly, my grades were significantly better in the courses where I attended all the lectures. I promise it helps.) You are finally on your own, with the freedom you have been waiting for, so do something great with it! Have a ton of fun, but don’t let your accomplishments and personal brand be hindered by beer pong and Thirsty Thursdays.


Cassie is a May 2009 University of Wisconsin-Madison Ag Journalism graduate. She recently unfolded her passion for public relations during her short stint as a PR consultant for a Madison, Wis. area non-profit and is looking to dive into the field professionally. Find Cassie on Twitter, BrazenCareerist, and LinkedIn.

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