Most college students don’t need an excuse for drinking.And if they do, there’s always the pre-party before a formal, tailgating before the game, pounding shots for a friend’s 21st birthday or having some brews just because the weekend is coming. It doesn’t matter what the occasion is to your average college student.The independence of college life provides the perfect atmosphere for reckless behavior; Parents aren’t around, but their money is.Many college students see this as a passing phase of their life, as much a part of college as going to class. But it’s really not a phase that passes. It’s a lifestyle that can have lasting effects on body and mind.Most beers average about 150 calories, with lighter beers ranging closer to about 100. Stouter brews may contain up to 200 or more calories. Take the median of these figures and multiply it by a night’s consumption. One six-pack is about 900 calories consumed – calories for which the body has no use.If the potential of a beer gut and the added weight aren’t enough, being a student and drinking is counterintuitive.In the classroom the student expands the mind, trying to learn and retain valuable information pertinent to his or her future job.A weekend spent drinking wipes out the brain cells the student spent all week developing.And it is during these moments of altered consciousness that a student is most likely to make a poor decision he or she will regret long after sobriety sets in. In light of recent TCU run-ins with the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission, staying sober may also prevent a major drain on the pocketbook. College is a time to prepare for the real world, and the behavior and habits one develops during the four or so years of upper level academia are likely to form the mold for the future. Once a person develops a routine of drinking, it is hard to break. Some say it is the college atmosphere that contributes to this problem, but the individual is ultimately responsible for his or her own actions.The next time a party rolls around, try staying sober.There are many laughs to be had at the expense of the drunks around who think you’re laughing with them when you’re really laughing at them.You may be surprised to learn you can stay sober and still have fun.And you feel so much better the next day.Michael Best is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Longview.