Turning 21 can be something exciting for many college students. There’s a stigma surrounding this “coming of age” that makes it seem exciting and freeing. With the ability to legally purchase and drink alcohol comes a feeling of maturity and adulthood. You think you’re going to go out and party every night, envisioning yourself at a trendy bar like in a movie scene. However, this stigma is only a stereotype at the end of the day. Once the celebration comes and goes, it may not be as exciting as it once seemed.
Many students come to college already having drinking experience while others come with the expectation of participating in heavy drinking.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Although the majority of students come to college already having some experience with alcohol, certain aspects of college life, such as unstructured time, the widespread availability of alcohol, inconsistent enforcement of underage drinking laws, and limited interactions with parents and other adults, can intensify the problem.”
The college atmosphere intensifies the compulsion to drink alcohol. If a student is drinking a copious amount of alcohol to begin with, then why would it be any more exciting to drink it when they turn 21?
Some say the excitement of turning 21 comes from being able to buy the alcohol themselves, but many underage students have fake IDs already.
According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The relevance of fake ID ownership to problematic drinking patterns is highlighted by findings showing that 56 percent of youths who reported borrowing or using a fake ID also reported weekly use of alcohol, in comparison to 14 percent of those who reported not owning identification in an underage Canadian sample.”
A large number of underage drinkers are already drinking alcohol, and they are even buying alcohol with fake IDs. If so many students are already participating in the activities that a 21-year-old is able to participate in, then those youths will quickly find the novelty fades.
You are still doing the same things that you were before: buying alcohol, drinking alcohol, going to parties and going to bars. There is nothing special in doing the same things you have always done. The only difference in turning 21 is some people may slow down their drinking and going out since they are able to do it so easily now.
Turning 21 is completely overvalued. Society shouldn’t stigmatize this “coming of age” anymore. At the end of the day, you’re just going to be doing what you have been since freshman year of college.
Abigail Varnado is a 21-year-old English senior from Amite, Louisiana.