Not every party at college can be a sick rager where all the dudes get laid and half the girls get pregnant, some have to suck for the sake of comparison. How would you know a great party if you never attended a shitty one? The answer is you wouldn’t. However that is not a problem you’ll ever have to worry about because awful parties are as common in college as people lying about who they slept with last weekend. To find out whether the party you’re attending is going to be an embarrassment for years to come, look out for the following signs:

1. Music Nobody Knows: Great, I get to listen to some shitty “indie” band all night. Oh, they’re “underground,” why didn’t you say so? Now, are they called that because they have refused major label attention or because their only shows so far have been in their parents’ basements? People want music they can sing along to, dance to and fingerblast bitches on the futon to, not your second cousin’s alt-punk all-instrumental folk rock. And I don’t care if they got second place in a battle of the high school bands; that was seven years ago. Pathetic.

2. The Host’s High School Friends: Nothing makes a party uncomfortable quicker than a couple of weirdoes standing alone in a corner, laughing at inside jokes and trying not to talk to anyone else. Those weirdoes are also known as the host’s friends from high school. If you do manage to talk to one of them the conversation will generally be about how much different your mutual friend is when he’s at college. You wish you could just smack this kid in the face and say “Listen buddy, I don’t even like your friend. I’m only at his party to get some free booze, steal some DVDs and get a game or two of beer pong in. I really don’t care if he used to like comic books in third grade or the once he farted in a jar and made you smell it. Stop talking to me, I’m trying to figure out if his laptop will fit in my jacket and you’re distracting me.” But instead of saying that you’ll politely listen to his boring stories about your mutual friend and all the “crazy shenanigans” they used to get up to in high school. Goodbye fun night, hello “killer” stories about sneaking into the mini golf place on the weekends.

3. Cans Of Beer…And Nothing Else: What a great idea. Instead of buying one relatively cheap gigantic can of beer that can serve hundreds – otherwise known as a keg – you’ve bought 60 small cans of beer that can serve 60 miserable people or two very happy people. Genius. And who needs an alternate, fast-acting beverage like jungle juice when you have warm cans of beer? Instead of providing you with a choice of alcohol with which to forget your first name, these gracious hosts have taken all the work out of it for you: you’ll drink Natty Light, and only Natty Light. Maybe you’ll even be the lucky one selected to “run to the store and grab a few more thirty racks” an hour into the party? A boy can dream, can’t he?

4. Your Girlfriend: “Why are you talking to that slut?” she’ll be saying all night. “That girl is looking at you.” So what? People look at each other, that’s what they do, you coldhearted wench. There’s no quicker way to ruin a party than dragging the old ball-n-chain in with you. Your friends will immediately deflate because tonight you have to be Steve, not Somebody-hold-my-legs-while-I-do-a-vodka-stand-Steve and they’ll avoid you so they don’t have to talk to the woman who stole their friend away. Plus, you’ll have to be very careful what you do and say for the entire night. “I don’t care if she’s your sister and is visiting for the weekend,” she’ll shriek, “I don’t like you talking to other girls.” Women: can’t live with them, can’t get any from them unless you do. Drag.

5. Bright Lights: I have a great idea. Let’s get a bunch of people together, feed them alcohol till they’re hornier than a prison inmate, put them in a small room together and…turn on a bunch of lights? As the old saying goes: Bright Lights Ruin Nights, and that’s never truer than at a college party. Nobody actually wants to see who they’re sucking tongue with, at least not until the next morning that is, and sometimes not even then. And since parties are essentially about swapping spit with people you barely know, a bright light is the quickest way to ensure that that does not happen. Here’s what will happen however: you’re moving in for a kiss with some drunken girl you met ten minutes ago when you notice that she has a little mustache gracing her upper lip. Not too bad, but she could have at least bleached it. Oh well, you continue in for your kiss. But wait, is that a cold sore below her nose? Oh man, and a stray chin hair? Yup. Christ, I think she’s got a zit ready to be popped right on the end of her nose? Oh man, I think she might have pink eye too. You see? Of course you do, the light is on.

Streeter is a co-author of The CollegeHumor Guide to College.