The first day of college is right around the corner, which is certain to bring excitement as well as anxiety. One of the main stressors for new and veteran college students is the prospect of their free time while at school. Since most students are on a tight budget, it might be hard to figure out what to do in their spare time on a budget that will allow them to spend next to nothing. Luckily, there’s a lot of great ways to spend your free time that can actually be stimulating too. These ten ideas should help you enjoy your free time while making the most of your budget. So, don’t stress that you’ll end up starring at the ceiling when you’re not studying, because these ten tips will ensure you have all of your spare time occupied.
1. Join a School Club
One of the best things about universities is they tend to cater to a wide variety of interests and personalities. This can really work out in your favor, especially if you’re looking for something to keep you busy during your off-time. Most universities will have a lot of clubs for students to enjoy. You can find everything from academic clubs to clubs based off of your interests. You can even join a Greek House if that is something you think you would enjoy. Most clubs are inclusive, so all you have to do is sign up. They are also a great place to make new friends, which is perfect for first year students. Best of all, clubs shouldn’t cost you a penny. There might be costs for special activities, but clubs tend to do fundraisers for these activities. Clubs also look great on your transcript, so if you plan on signing up for an internship or pursuing a graduate degree then you might have a leg up.
If you have a lot of time on your hands, then you might consider joining a volunteer program. There are many places looking for help, so you can choose from a wide range of options. Habitat for Humanity is a great option for students that want to learn handy skills while they’re in college. This program will allow you to help build a house, which can include woodworking, gardening and so much more. Of course, there are also many programs that are easy to jump into if only for a day. For instance, you can work in a soup kitchen, hand out food at a local pantry or even pick up trash in your local park. You might consider spending time in a nursing home or hospital too. If you do decide to work with a program often then you can always add the work to your resume, which will look great for future employers.
3. Extracurricular Activities
Just as in high school, there are lots of extracurricular activities you can take part in that will help cut back on the free time that you have. One of the most common options is to join a sports team. There’s lots of sports to choose from too, so you can enjoy playing something you actually enjoy. If you make a sports team then you will have lots of practices to attend and you will probably even have to travel with the team for competitions. Another great option is to join the school band. This doesn’t always mean you’ll have to perform at games, because most universities have a variety of different bands to choose from. Of course, there is so much more to choose including robotics teams, debate teams and so on. These activities can even earn you college credit too, so you can cut back on some academic courses that might be trying.
Students that excel in a certain topic might want to take the time to tutor others. Generally, most universities will offer a tutoring program that you can enroll in. This program will offer training, support and much more to help you succeed in your tutoring task. Of course, you can always do tutoring on the side to earn a little money too. There are many ways to advertise your services on campus too, so you won’t have to spend money to do so. Tutoring can take up a lot of time, especially during exam periods. So, you should be able to stay busy without the temptation of spending money.
5. Campus Activities
Your campus should be one of the first places you look for free or cheap entertainment. You will be surprised by how many amazing activities that your campus offers its students. If you are looking to pick up a few extra lessons at no cost, then you’re bound to find guest lecturers frequently. You can also enjoy movie screenings, concerts, plays and so much more. Many campuses even host parties for their students, which can help keep you busy on the weekends. Your campus bulletin is the best place to look for these activities. However, if you’re uncertain how to keep up with the activities then talk to a member of the Student Union. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself all booked.
6. Enjoy the Gym
Most university campuses offer a great gym for students to take advantage of. All you need is your student ID and you should be good to go to take advantage of the facility. This can be one of the best assets at your school, because it will allow you to kill your spare time while improving on your overall health. Best of all, working out every day or even just a few times a week can help with your studies. Exercise helps work off stress, which will ensure you won’t feel too frustrated while dealing with exam periods. On top of that, enjoying the gym can help avoid the freshmen fifteen which will help boost your confidence as you navigate through this fun period of your life.
7. Find a Job
Believe it or not, but one of the best options you have available to you is the prospect of finding a job while you’re studying. It might not sound like a fun way to spend your time but having a job while in college can actually benefit you in many ways. For starters, it will allow you to see what the work force is like without a college degree. A job will also give you money that can help take a huge burden off of your life. You can use your paychecks to start paying on your student loans, which can help cut back on the interest you pay in the future. On top of that, having a job will give you money so you can attend concerts, go out to eat and other activities that you’d normally enjoy. Best of all, you’ll have job experience to put on your resume when you do finish school. This can help you land a better job right out of college. Of course, a job can also teach you time management skills, will offer a wide variety of skills you can learn and might even help you make some new friends and other connections.
8. Embrace Mother Nature
Getting a little fresh air when you have some time to kill is always a great way to enjoy life. There’s lots of great things you can do outside that doesn’t require you to spend a lot of money either. For starters, you can easily enjoy your favorite sports with a team or even just a group of friends. Of course, you don’t have to enjoy classic activities if you want to have fun outside. You might consider going for a hike or simply a walk in a local park. Another fun option is to go for an adventure and utilize your photography skills to capture some of the sights. You might even consider grabbing a book and reading outside. No matter what you choose, the fresh air is bound to improve your mood and health and it won’t cost you a penny.
9. Student Discounts
Without a doubt, you can maximize your free time when you utilize your student ID. Your ID is the key to many great discounts, especially if you stick close to your school. One of the more common uses for the discount is at the movie theater where you can get a great discount on movies you have been wanting to see. Local restaurants often offer discounts to students too, so if you need a break from the cafeteria then visit a restaurant that offers such a deal. Some establishments will even offer happy hours designed for students. Of course, museums, zoos, aquariums and so much more will also reduce the price of your ticket. You may even be able to do a little therapeutic shopping with a discount. Just make sure to ask about discounts before you make any purchases.
Once you make some friends that have similar interests then you’ll be set to take advantage of the many deals that Groupon and other social coupon companies have to offer. These amazing deals will allow you to enjoy a wide variety of activities around your community, which can help make your free time even more inspiring. Best of all, you split the price of the activity with a group, so you won’t end up paying full price for anything. Some of these special coupons will even factor in a student discount on top of the coupon, so don’t be afraid to ask for this. If you don’t have a group to join in on the fun, then you can always post a notice at school to see if anyone is interested in joining. This might be one of the best ways to make friends with people who enjoy doing the same things as you.
Finding something to do in college that is easy on your budget doesn’t have to be a battle. These ten ideas will help keep you busy while ensuring you can have some fun and gain a lot from your university experience. With any luck, you’ll be able to pack your schedule full so you won’t be tempted to spend money in your boredom.