How To Be Cool In College

I’m all for tweaking a few things to be more friendly and conversational in the eyes of your peers.

Personal development is a code I live by. And constructive criticism is one of my favorite things.

But there’s a difference between aiming to better yourself and aiming to be cool in college.

Being cool is so subjective. When one person thinks someone is cool, another person thinks they’re lame.

I’m sure if you asked my college classmates, some would say I was cool and others would say I was a loser.

That’s not the main point though. This is: there’s no doubt in my mind that being cool doesn’t stack up to being successful or being happy.

Bringing value to others and feeling good is so much sweeter than being respected (many times feared) in your social circles.

The problem with wanting to be cool (and famous) is that you have to depend on other people—people you can’t control—for this to be true of you. And when you put your self-worth in the opinions of other people and something doesn’t go your way, it feels like your whole world is out of control.

Plus, there are other issues you run into such as fake friends and the fact that the feeling of being cool is fleeting and you’ll need to start all over again once you graduate.

In my experience, the desire to be cool always overpromises and underdelivers.

So what you choose to do with this post is up to you.

But if you really want to be cool, the coolest people in college are like this.

Friendly And Chill


Maybe high school cool was about putting people down to make yourself appear cool, but college cool is about making a positive impression on everyone you meet. That means you need to stay friendly and chill all the time.

Do this and you’ll quickly make new friends in your classes, with your professors, and in social settings. A big smile and friendly greeting is appreciated by everyone, so make the most of it.

By chill, I mean if cool is your goal then you can’t get involved in petty drama. Roommate conflict over the dumbest thing is going to sever the relationship with your roommate and could make your other friends pick a side in the fight.

Now at the same time don’t get walked over, but caring little about small stuff makes other people enjoy being around you.

The best part is when you go out, you’ll reap the rewards of being friendly because you’ll have friends to your left, center, and right all saying hi and wanting your attention. It’s easy to have fun when you know everyone and they’re all buying you drinks.

It’s a huge difference compared to going to the bar with your two friends, not seeing anyone else you know, and then only talking to each other. Or even worse, texting people on your phone all night while you’re out. Yikes!



As fun as it is to play video games or watch a movie, college is the time to take risks and make mistakes. An effective way to achieve that is to be adventurous.

When your friends are being lame, rally the troops to take a weekend trip to another college, a nearby beach, or your hometown.

Convince your social circle to study abroad with you in Italy, go on vacation every chance you get during the summer, winter, and school year.

Besides the entertainment and gaining the reputation as the fun one, you’ll also have fascinating stories to share at any moment.

Think about this. Isn’t there a striking difference when your friend asks you, “What’s new?” and you say, “Not much,” or, “Actually I just climbed a mountain yesterday,” and then go on with that story in epic detail.

And these opportunities to share about your adventurous life happen every day, whether chilling on the futon or at a party. I’d say a majority of social time in college involves people sitting or standing around just talking.

With that mind, be adventurous to not only have fun but also have the best talking points.

Big Social Event Goers


Probably the most obvious aspect of how to be cool in college is going to big social events.

Think of the big football tailgate and game against your rival school. The theme nights dedicated to different days of the week (90s Night Tuesday, Wine Wednesday, etc). And the huge annual fraternity or sorority parties.

These events are where you get to know other cool kids and establish yourself as one of them. Find a way to build rapport and bond over something so you can build these friendships. Pull this off for a few weeks and you can double your amount of friends.

You’ll also get to know more people and have inside jokes that stick with you over time.

That results in going to more social events and being introduced to more fun people. Your social life snowballs and it becomes easier than ever to make friends and have a good time.

And on Monday morning you’ll always have a fun story to share when your classmate goes, “How was your weekend?”

Friends With The Opposite Sex


You’ll be a breathe of fresh air when your goal is to be friends and not hook up with the opposite sex. Part of being cool is being different, and this is a worthwhile opportunity to be different.

Once you make enough friends of the opposite sex, it’ll be easy to find and get invited to the most fun parties and events.

Then you take it a step further by inviting your same-sex friends to events you know about. They will love you for getting them in the same place as your opposite sex friends, and your opposite sex friends will appreciate the introductions.

Or if you host your own party, you’ll have a full list of interesting people to come including an even balance of girls and guys. People recognize those who have tons of social connections.

And not to be forgotten, you may have guessed that one of these opposite sex friends will eventually become your girlfriend or boyfriend. Now your social life and love life is rocking!



In my upcoming book How To College, I talk about dressing for confidence on campus and off confidence. The cool kids have no problem doing this.

The crowd that rolls out of bed and walks to class without showering, fixing their hair, and wearing pajamas won’t be earning any social points. Don’t do that. Do this.

Shower and brush your teeth before going out for the day, wear a nice fitting shirt, and shorts or pants that are in style. It’s also trendy, at least at my former college Miami University, to dress in casual athletic gear. You’ll see guys and girls wearing Lululemon t-shirts, shorts, and pants all the time.

And where the best dressed truly make a splash is at the themed parties. They aren’t the type to put something on last minute—no way. They’ve been buying clothes and thinking of these events for months in advance.

They’ll get decked out in body paint and stylish or funny party-related gear. It’s a necessity to look different and special, so they put in the effort to do it.

Not Over The Top


In the goal of being chill, you’re going to hurt your social status if you’re too over the top in a certain area. To be cool, don’t cross the line.

For example, there’s the over the top partier who needs to take it down a notch. Passing out at 9 pm on a Friday from going too hard isn’t what you want to be known for. And doing hard drugs at parties is going to alienate you from most of the crowd and raise red flags.

Same with the guys, and occasionally girls, who are always getting into fights. If you can’t walk home from the bar without getting into a scuffle, you have an issue and other people will get tired of always having to back you up. No one wants to fight your unreasonable battles.

Sleeping with everyone also falls into the over the top category. You’ll exile your friends at times, put them in uncomfortable positions, and make them regret going out with you.

And you want to be seen as cool in the eyes of other people, not someone with a ton of baggage. So don’t go home with a guy or girl every night. For this case and other reasons, it’s a terrible idea.

I could go on and on. They key is that you don’t cross the line, because then you rock the boat with other people and you can’t have that.

In The Know About Music


When you’re in the know about music, you don’t go for those overplayed top radio songs. You have the exclusive mixtapes, discover up and coming artists, and find beats that no one else has heard.

And when you catch that new band or new single that you tell your friends about before it hits mainstream and then it does, you’re seen as a music visionary.

You’ll become the go-to guy for all your friends’ music needs, which makes you standout and add value. Those are essentials to separating yourself from the average college student.

This music knowledge also protects you from being asked to play a new song at a pre-game and then have no idea what to play. Or even worse, take the AUX cord and play a song that’s the opposite of a banger. Being responsible for ruining the party’s vibe is rough.

From karaoke night, singing in the car on a road trip,or screaming the words at a concert, knowing your music helps cement your identity.

(If you were curious, I spend little to no time listening to music because I’m too busy—so I fail this aspect of the cool debate. Oh no!)

Fit And Athletic


Everyone appreciates a nice body. That’s why it’s not a coincidence that the cool kids have them.

So if you’re trying to be cool, you can’t mess around with being fat in college.

A disproportional body also makes it harder to wear the best clothes because your wardrobe is limited in some senses. Tight clothes or jeans won’t work if you can’t fit in them.

And think of all the scenarios where a hot body would let you show some skin:

  • Pool party
  • Day drinking at a bar
  • Spring break vacation
  • At the gym
  • Themed party

Although it shouldn’t be in my opinion, the recreation center has become a social place where people are talking in between exercises. If you go, it’s yet another place to make friends with your classmates.

So, eat healthy. Work out. And repeat. Being patient also helps if you’re not seeing results right away.

Ambitious, Not Too Ambitious


It’s cool to be smart and have goals.

What’s not cool is to alienate people by saying you want to be president of the United States or some other lofty goal. I’m sure Bill Clinton looked like a weirdo when he took notes about people at parties.

Because there’s also this unsaid rule that being too ambitious is not cool. When you’re the most ambitious dude out there, it makes other people feel bad that they don’t have the same drive.

If this is you, take it down a notch and other people won’t hate you. You’re trying to be cool for God’s sake! In that president example, strive to be a senator and you’ll receive better feedback.

What’s also not cool is graduating in six years, having no money, and starting your first real job at age 30. Then people will wonder why you don’t have your life together.

So the takeway here is to be on the right of the ambition graph, and not all the way to the right that it raises questions.

Final Words

I hope you could tell some of the sarcasm in this post, because I tried to have fun with it.

So recognize that I wasn’t dead serious when writing all of this (aka don’t email me that I said something offensive).

And I’m not knocking the cool kids. There’s nothing wrong with being popular. Popularity often translates to success and happiness, two of the best things.

Just don’t aim to climb the social ladder with the wrong intentions to be better than people and inflate your ego. The social ladder becomes slippery and dangerous if that’s your mindset.

Related: Want To Be Like James Bond? You Can

What do you think it means to be college cool?

Brian Robben

Brian Robben is the founder of Take Your Success, a site dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs grow a profitable business and reach freedom. For in-depth training, visit: