Dear SWUG,

What are birthday celebrations like in college, from freshman year to senior year?

– Birthday Betch

Dear Birthday Betch,

Ah, birthdays. The gentle annual reminder that we are getting closer and closer to getting cut off from our parents. Birthdays change drastically throughout the four years of college. Make sure you take advantage of all of them, because no one really cares about you turning 23. Here’s what to expect.

(Let’s assume you’re a normally aged college student, and not a 22 year-old freshman on the hockey team.)

First year: Happy 19th birthday!! This is SO exciting!!! All of your new best friends are posting pics from orientation week on your wall. Take that, lame high school friends! Invite all of your hall mates, girls you cry with in the bathroom at Zeta and people you wave to on the way to Tisch to a big birthday dinner in Harvard Square. Make sure everyone has a fake and try to play it off like you’re turning 24 even though you’re still experiencing the joys and horrors of puberty. When did those get so big?! Happy birthday to me! End the night in the Hodgdon lounge discussing how crazy it is that you’re so old, but also have your whole life ahead of you. Throw up the next morning during your 8:05 a.m. class.

Sophomore: OMG you’re turning 20! For some reason this birthday feels like a big deal and you’re super excited that you’ve finally hit this milestone. Two decades young! Now that you have a solid group of friends you’ll probably have a smaller birthday dinner where you’ll reminisce about how young and naive you were a year ago. After dinner you’ll rush over to 209/123/Zeta to pregame, but then you’ll realize that there is no “game” and you’re pretty drunk, so you’ll head home and order Helen’s. All and all, it’s a solid birthday.

Junior: 21 snitchezzz!! OK this birthday is legit. You’re actually legal and can now enjoy the best that Somerville/Boston has to offer. First things first, head to Hillsides and get your free birthday goodie and buy your first legal handle of Svedka (your tastes have matured from Rubinoff). Plan a giant birthday extravaganza either at your off-campus house, or at Tufts’ finest bar: The Pub. Froggy will treat you to shady red shots and you’ll celebrate with all your closest friends that don’t have work due Wednesday and the football team. You’ll probably blackout at 10:30 p.m. and start hysterically crying. Hopefully you’ve made good enough friends at this point that they know to take you home ASAP. Your 21st only comes around once in a while, so drag out the celebration for as long as possible. Ask everyone to “go out and get drinks” with you, because that’s what 21-year-olds do. Throw up when you get home, and the next morning.

Senior: Ugh. You’re turning 22. It’s just like Taylor said it would be, “miserable and magical, oh yeah.” You’ve got two options here: Literally ignore your birthday and curl up with some wine for 24 hours OR party like it’s your last birthday to be with your amazing friends and enjoy all that the 21+ scene in Boston has to offer. Play it up as much as you want, or just pretend its not happening. You’ve lived for 22 years, you know what’s best for you.

No matter what age you are turning, crank up Jeremih’s “Birthday Sex” (2009), eat lots of baked goods and don’t forget to call your grandparents back!

Shots on me,