When you're in college, Halloween is awesome. But for some reason, they never mention it in the brochures. When you’re a kid, Halloween is this amazingly overstimulating, indulgent, and weird holiday that adults encourage for some reason. Then suddenly, you hit junior high and just like that, you’re too old for it. Supposedly, you’ve outgrown the pageantry and the act of begging strangers for free sweets. But who really outgrows these things? Is it any wonder that teenagers largely mark the occasion by toilet-papering houses?
If you’re in college though, we’ve got good news. Halloween is back on. Halloween is on like Vaughn. All hallow’s eve is on and on til the break of dawn. (Sorry for that. This year, I’m going as both sides of early ‘90s hip-hop duo Salt ’n Pepa. Just trying to get into character. It’s…not going well.) Anyway, now that you’re in college, it’s back to costumes, candy, the carving (pumpkins that is).
College is a time for finding yourself, learning new stuff, and working hard under lots of pressure. So we make license for your weirdness, and for the occasional act of deliberate behavioral regression. Halloween is perfect for both of these things. It’s a chance to play dress-up like a child, consume sugar like there’s no tomorrow, and express a side of yourself that might otherwise be considered fairly anti-social. To wit, if you show up to class on November 12th dressed like a Minion, people will be equal parts bemused and frightened.
So get it all in on Halloween. But if this is your first Halloween on a college campus, there are some things you need to know. Yes, it’s a lot like being a kid. But in another way, it’s nothing like that at all. If we’re being frank about it, there’s a lot more alcohol and exposed skin at a college Halloween party. So it’s kind of a new ballgame, and there are some rookie mistakes that could negatively impact your experience.
With that in mind, we strongly urge you to steer clear of these 10 College Halloween Party Fouls on your way to one of the biggest party nights of the year:
1. Constructing a cumbersome costume
If you have to turn sideways to fit your costume through the doorway, you’re in for a long night. People will think you’re awesome for transforming twelve rolls of aluminum foil and a refrigerator box into a totally lifelike Optimus Prime costume. On the down side, they’ll think you’re less awesome for constantly knocking drinks off of tables and requiring assistance to use the bathroom. Be creative, but don’t overdo it. That big, impressive art project will be like a giant anchor holding you down all night…especially if you dress up like a big-assed boat with a giant anchor. Try to keep the ensemble manageable, comfortable and outfitted with strategically located zippers or button-flaps. Oh, and we shouldn’t have to say this but we will. Don’t do anything you can’t undo. This means avoiding industrial strength adhesives, face tattoos, or unncessary dental procedures. If you planned to dress as Mike Tyson, I think all three of these warnings apply.
Wish you were better at stitching together homemade costumes? Consider a career in Art & Design:
- The 15 Best Online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design Degree Programs
- The 6 Best Online Master’s in Art & Art History Programs
2. Dressing in beachwear
There’s nothing sexier than hypothermia, amirite? When it comes to Halloween on campus, skin is in. College is a great time for freedom of expression, and Halloween naturally lends itself to a particularly free mode of expression. Some choose to participate by dressing down rather than up. And that’s cool. Here at The Quad, we support your right to a positive body image. Shake it while you’ve got it. But, we are on the threshold of November here. If you go to college in Hawaii or South Florida, you can skip to the next pointer. But for those of us living in the real world, where there are actual seasons, Halloween can be cold as a witch’s…ice box. So if you go to school somewhere like Boston, or Ann Arbor, or Minneapolis, don’t forget the climate when considering your costume.
3. Pretending you’re too cool
Even more important than how you dress up is that you dress up at all. Don’t act like you’re too cool for Halloween. That’s lame. Loosen up. Laugh at yourself. Or at the very least, find an excuse to wear something hiding in the back of your closet. Like, let’s say you have a bee-keeping suit that you bought because you have a hunch that one day, it will come into mainstream, daily-wear fashion. We happen to agree with you, but until that day, you don’t really have an occasion to wear it. That’s what Halloween is for. Break that suit in before everybody you know is rockin’ a Tyvek on the way to work. Or just get a fake moustache, or one of those doofy hats with the side-flaps, or just put a big googly eye on your forehead. It’s not that hard, and it’s better than nothing. Instead of pretending you’re cool, you should just actually be awesome. Wear a costume.
4. Going as a Clown
This is the only exception to the any-costume-will-do advice above. If it’s between nothing and a clown, go as nothing. On the subject of clowns, it’s not that I’m afraid…it’s just…dude, just don’t do it. If you clown for a living, and you make balloon animals, and the children love you…great, wonderful, we’re happy for you and we’re happy for the children. But dressing as a clown for any non-professional reason — cosplay, grocery shopping, or International Juggalo Conference — is simply wrong. The rules don’t change just because it’s Halloween. I feel this needs no further explanation.
And if you’d like to get inside the mind of a person who would dress up as a clown for Halloween, consider a degree in psychology:
- The 50 Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Degree Programs
- The 25 Best Online Master’s in Psychology Degree Programs
- The Best Online Doctorate in Behavioral Psychology Programs
5. Forgetting the fear
It used to be about the scares. Remember when you were a kid and you were still susceptible to that kind of manipulation? Now it’s all about about the partying, which we support. But you should still take the opportunity to indulge in some frights during the month of October. November is all about Thanksgiving, where everything is warm and bright and smells like nutmeg. But before we get there, we have to cross through this season of the macabre, this month of autumnal decay. (Hooray!) Make the most of it by watching some creepy movies, visiting a haunted, abandoned amusement park, or even just jumping out from behind the couch in your dorm common area wearing a horse-head, in the hope that maybe, just maybe, one of your dormmates will soil themselves. Sometimes, the most inspired gags are the simplest ones.
If you’d rather get your scares out of a killer degree program, check out:
- The 25 Best Majors for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
- The 10 Best Majors for Rebuilding Civilization
- 13 Creepy College Campuses: Scary Schools in Horror Movies
And if you’re interested in the finer points of spiritual haunting and exorcism, consider a degree in theology:
- The 10 Best Online Associate in Theology Programs
- The 10 Best Online Bachelor’s in Theology Programs
- The Top 20 Master’s in Theology Online Programs
- The Best Online Doctorate in Theology Degree Programs
6. Doing a 15-minutes-of-fame costume
Avoid dressing as something super refernce-y and current. It’s the easiest way to suffer the humiliation of costume overlap. If you think you’re the only person readying a Kylie Jenner get-up right now, prepare to be surprised. Costume’s drawn from the day’s headlines, tabloid covers, and Instagram accounts may seem clever, until you show up at a party with three Stormy Daniels lookalikes and five MAGA-Kanyes. On top of that, one day, you’ll look back at photos and be like, “Why would I dress as Dick-in-a-box?” or “who was Ken Bone again?” Spare Future You the embarrassment. You can do better.
Looking for a reliable old standby costume? People love mad scientists. If you really want to embody the part, consider earning a degree in the sciences:
- The 50 Best Chemistry Programs in the World Today
- The 10 Best Online Master’s in Biomedical Engineering Programs
- The 50 Best Life and Agriculture Sciences Programs in the World Today
7. Going as something you have to explain
If you’re heading to a party and you fancy yourself the creative type, that’s super awesome and we totally encourage you to explore your gifts. That said, make sure you apply that creativity to something others will get. I was once desperate for a costume. When I found this weird, sepia-colored, Sears evening robe from the ’70s in a thrift shop, I was like, “Perfect! I’ll be a cult leader!” So that’s what I did. I spent all evening explaining to people over loud music what I was. They were like “Are you Moses?” And I was like, shouting, “NO! I’m like, a cult leader, like the leader of a cult, like don’t drink the kool-aid! Jonestown Massacre, Y’know!” Jonestown Massacre...huge hit at a party. People were like, “oh. ok. cool.” So I lent the costume to my buddy for his work party and said, “be Moses.” He bought a big white beard, wore the robe and won his company’s costume contest. Now he’s the CEO. Moral of the story is, go as something that you don’t have to explain.
If you actually get a perverse pleasure out of confusing people, here are some constume ideas that we absolutely guarantee nobody will get. Check out Campus Legends: Famous Figures in College History and go to your Halloween party as a college founder, a university president, or a legendary professor. Prepare for a delightful evening of blank stares.
8. Forgetting to hydrate
You know what combination makes for an amazingly terrible morning after? Jagerbombs and candy corns. Of course, the only real preventative for Jagermeister is total abstention. But if this isn’t an option for you, take all the appropriate steps — including drinking tons of water and using the buddy system to stay close to your friends. Provided you are of legal drinking age, we advise you to party responsibly and be aware of your own limits. Read on for a candid take on alcohol consumption and campus safety.
9. Filling up on candy
Perhaps even worse than a Jagerbomb hangover is the feeling of slowly waking up to the realization that you ended the previous night by sitting down next to an industrial-sized bowl of gummy worms, lapsing into a blind fit of mindless gorging, and emptying its contents into the facehole of your costume while bystanders looked on in horror. It didn’t help that you dressed as an Angry Bird for Halloween. This morning, you’re more gelatin, corn syrup and Yellow #5 than human being. Plus, there are pictures of the whole spectacle all over social media. Maybe you treated your body like a garbage disposal in those childhood Halloween’s past. But you’re not a kid anymore. I’m not telling you that you have to be any more mature than you are. I’m just saying, the metabolic recovery time for that kind of abuse is a little longer now that you’re a little older. Try to control yourself around the candy.And in case you’d like to learn more about what happens to your body when you consume four pounds of concentrated Yellow #5, consider a degree in nutrition:
- The 6 Best Online Bachelor’s in Nutritional Sciences Programs
- The 25 Best Master’s Degree Programs in Nutrition
10. Taking stuff too seriously
Enjoy. You just finished midterms. You’ve earned this weekend of silliness. Halloween is usually one of the biggest party nights on campus. Take advantage by unwinding and giving yourself a mental break from your studies. What better way than pretending to be somebody else for just a night? Of course, whatever you do, remember that you still have to be you the morning after. Don’t do anything you would regret.
And for a few more frights, check out:
- 21 Scary Facts About College
- 13 Scary Facts about Online College
- The 50 Best Mathematics Programs in the World Today … because what’s scarier than math, right?