A college party is like a jungle: it’s noisy, crowded and hard to navigate. Beyond that, this environment turns the male species, a phenomenon that is hard enough to understand during the day, into entirely different sort of beasts. Lucky for you, Her Campus has done some field research to classify the various species of boy you’re likely to find at a college party.
1. The King of the House
Defining characteristics: This is the guy who’s hosting the party, but even if he wasn’t running things, he would give off the self-assured aura of collegiate royalty. You can identify him by his preppy attire and easy charm—that is, if you can see him past the swarm of girls trying to get his attention. The King of the House is an athlete and a business major, and he seems to have everything figured out. He knows everyone, and everyone knows him.
Natural habitat: Everywhere. The King of the House likes to migrate so he’s always a part of the action.
What to do if you encounter him: Try not to swoon. Say something friendly and preferably clever. “Hey, have you done the math homework yet?” is a good example of what not to say. So is, “This is my first time at a party!” Try complimenting him or his party. He won’t stay and chat with you for long, but he’ll introduce you to some people and get you talking before he goes on to his next guests.
2. The Guy Who Just Wants to Get Naked
Defining characteristics: He really, really wants to get naked. He’ll be the one to initiate “shirtless o’clock,” that mythical moment when the guys decide the party absolutely cannot continue until they all have stripped off their shirts. When he inevitably starts showing skin, you’ll probably find that somewhere on his body, someone has drawn a Greek letter with a Sharpie.
Natural habitat: Doing laps around the house after getting shut out of beer pong.
What to do if you encounter him: Do your best to avoid contact. You don’t know where his sweaty skin has been.
3. The Wannabe Hipster
Defining characteristics: He’s above the frat life and wants everyone to know that a friend dragged him here, since he’s usually way above mainstream activities like listening to Kanye West and Miley Cyrus. He’ll wear skinny jeans and tell you he’s from Portland, Oregon. Don’t be fooled, though; if he’s at a typical college party, he’s probably not a true hipster.
Natural habitat: Lurking under a trilby hat, pretending to read Sartre.
What to do if you encounter him: Amuse yourself by asking if he’s heard of different indie musicians. You can just make them up using inspiration from the sights around you: “Two Red Cups,” “The Short Skirts,” “The Guy Who Just Wants to Get Naked.” He’s heard of all of them.
4. The Overenthusiastic Freshman
Defining characteristics: The Overenthusiastic Freshman has never been to a college party before. You’ll recognize him by his young face: he has wide eyes and a nervous grin. He’ll be wearing a casual button-down shirt and way too much cologne. This party is nothing like the ones he went to in high school, and he’s eager to tell you that he thinks the music and the people here are off the hook.
Natural habitat: Sticking close to a friend from his freshman hall because he Googled “first college party” and read that he should go with a buddy.
What to do if you encounter him: Avoid, avoid, avoid. This guy will spend the night telling you stories about his high school marching band and his tough bio professor, and if you have the misfortune to exchange numbers, he’ll text you every Friday thereafter asking, “where the party at?”
5. The Flirt
Defining characteristics: The Flirt can be recognized by his various methods of seduction. There’s the bad-pick-up-line artist (“Hey baby, this party’s fine but I hear there’s a better one in my pants.”). There’s the guy who just wants to quench your thirst (“Hey baby, can I get you a drink?”). And of course, there’s the smooth talker (“Hey baby, my feelings for you have an even and regular surface with no bumps or indentations.” Oops, wrong type of smooth.).
Natural habitat: Working his way from girl to girl. His motto is, “The more girls you flirt with, the more chances you have of hooking up.”
What to do if you encounter him: It depends on your mood. If you just came here to have a good time with your girls, you can get rid of him by flat-out ignoring him, or perhaps responding to him in a very dry, academic way (he tends to get confused by big words). If you’re interested in him, flirt back… but don’t expect him to call you the next day.
6. The Fraternity Brother
Defining characteristics: If you’re at a frat party these boys will dominate the room. You’ll usually see them in packs, sporting their Greek letters. These guys often consider themselves part of the A-list. As fellow investigator Geraldine, a senior from UC Santa Cruz, says, “The group of guys are usually friends of the host and are just as popular and wanted. They tend to think they’re a little more superior than the house king.” You’ll find them playing beer pong and hitting on girls.
Natural habitat: Near the keg.
What to do if you encounter him: Take this on a case-by-case basis. Through our research, we have found that fraternity brothers are just regular college guys, except they happen to be in a fraternity. However, some fraternities have weird mating expectations, so it’s good to be on your guard. Paula, a junior from Chatham University, describes one particular frat brother to avoid: “He will be the one who will absolutely try to hook up with you for five minutes, and if you don't give it up, he will booty-call someone who appreciates his Beta-Theta-Pi-whatever-else attire he has on for the night, because what is a fratty bro without his one-night stand?”
7. The Enthusiastic Dancer
Defining characteristics: If we had to classify him as either human or dancer, he would most certainly fall under the category of “dancer.” This guy will spend the entire party busting his moves, and he won’t even get sweaty. He didn’t come here to find the love of his life; he came here to be the life of the party.
Natural habitat: The center of the dance floor.
What to do if you encounter him: The Enthusiastic Dancer can come in two flavors—we think of them as Jekyll and Hyde. If you’re lucky, you’ll find The Good Enthusiastic Dancer. No matter how good or bad of a dancer you are, he’ll flip, spin and twirl you around so you look like a pro. If you find one of these, dance it up! However, beware of his evil counterpart—The Thruster. This guy will dance with you as though he wants to impregnate you. If you feel uncomfortable, remember that you’re under no obligation to dance with him… oh, and isn’t that your BFF in the corner waving you over to go over there right now? Easy escape plan.
8. The Guy Who Already Graduated
Defining characteristics: When you see him, you might do a double take—“Wait, does he still go here?” Then you’ll see that he’s proudly sporting his Class of 2013 (or maybe even earlier) T-shirt, and you realize he already graduated. He’ll try to blend in with the other guys, but at some point he’ll start telling stories about people who graduated so long ago nobody’s heard of them. There’ll be an awkward silence as people reflect on how old he is. He’ll break said silence by asking everyone to do shots.
Natural habitat: In the kitchen, mixing drinks. After all, he has more years of experience doing this than everyone else.
What to do if you encounter him: Avoid asking him if he lives with his parents or if he has a job—it’s likely he came to the party to forget about those things. Politely smile and nod when he tells you how great and life-changing college is. Resist the temptation to make a Mean Girls reference and shout, “He doesn’t even go here!”
9. The Boyfriend
Defining characteristics: He came to this party with his girlfriend. He will spend the entire night with his girlfriend. He will leave with his girlfriend. He will probably be wearing a sweater his girlfriend got him for his birthday, and you won’t see him with a beverage until he’s gotten one for his girlfriend. The Boyfriend might be a nice guy, but if you’re not the one dating him, you won’t have much of an opportunity to get to know him.
Natural habitat: Attached to his girlfriend’s hip. You might mistake the couple for a pair of conjoined twins at first.
What to do if you encounter him: If you’ve recently been through a rough breakup, avoid him at all costs. You don’t need someone else’s super-attentive boyfriend flaunted in front of you. However, if you’re ambivalent about other people’s happy relationships, feel free to chat with the couple for a few minutes and then move on. There are more exciting things to do than hear about their adorable anniversary dinner.
10. The Safety Patrol
Defining characteristics: When the party starts, he’ll be friendly and eager to play some board games. As the party picks up, he’ll start to panic over the loud music and the number of intoxicated partygoers. He’ll try to convince you that the party is getting out of hand and is sure to get shut down soon. Note that it is not unusual for The Overenthusiastic Freshman to metamorphose into The Safety Patrol.
Natural habitat: Seated by the window, checking to make sure campus security (or the cops) isn’t on its way.
What to do if you encounter him: Back away slowly. He means well, but you don’t want his conspiracy theories to ruin your fun. Keep him in mind if you need a ride home—even if he wasn’t chosen to be the designated driver, he’s definitely sober.
11. The Good Guy
Defining characteristics: When he comes over for a friendly chat, he’ll look at your face, not your chest. He came to the party to have a good time with his friends and meet some new people, not to get laid. He usually gets stuck taking care of his sloppy friend, but you won’t hear him complain about it. He’s also oftentimes the designated driver. If he had a little to drink, he won’t get behind the wheel, but he’d be happy to walk you home.
Natural habitat: Acting as a buffer between two people in steady relationships (with different people) who look like they want to make out with each other.
What to do if you encounter him: As this is a rare breed, don’t take advantage of him. If he does something nice, like walk you home or makes sure you have a good time, send him a thank-you text the next day.
We hope our guide has prepared you to navigate the wild world of college parties. Just be sure that while you’re investigating these 11 creatures, you don’t turn into a beast yourself—or, should we say, a party animal.