Perhaps one of the first lessons you will learn as you begin your collegiate studies is the enormous expense of college and college-related necessities. Almost everything costs money: textbooks, meal plans, parking, thumb drives for your laptop, and even a replacement for your lost ID card. Even though the really big money—your tuition and room and board—is on loan to be paid back after graduation, sometimes the difference between broke and $10 can seem like an abyss between you and having a good time. It needn’t be. Here are some tried and true means of entertainment for the broke college student.
- Organize a pool or billiards tournament: If your residence hall doesn’t include pool tables in its rec room, consider gathering a few friends and finding a local pool hall where you can play a game or two. Most halls will charge only a few dollars per person to play a game. Just save some quarters when you do laundry so you’ll be ready for a match.
- Ask about student discounts: Many local businesses rely on their proximity to your college or university and a steady stream of student customers to stay in business. Some offer both advertised and unadvertised discounts. Ask and take advantage of the savings. They’ll add up, especially after four years.
- Sign up for rec league sports and activities: Many colleges and universities have a recreation program that organizes different activities, such as movie nights, and recreational sports like Frisbee golf, rec league softball, tag football, and laser tag. Not only are these activities free, but they’re also organized by the rec center director, so you’ll actually have teams and playing schedules.
- Attend art department openings: Attend any and all openings at your university’s art department. Brochures and artistic statements will be available if you’re only able to drop by after the official gathering. At any rate, you will have the opportunity to learn of some of your fellow students’ talent and spend some time learning about art.
- Attend music department concerts: Attend concerts presented by your university’s music department. Most are free of charge. Many of these concerts are provided by professional musicians and/or ensembles.
- Attend lectures by visiting speakers: Attend any lectures by visiting scholars, writers, religious leaders, politicians, or anyone else who visits your campus. Most are free of charge, are excellent educational opportunities, and may even earn your class credit.
- Join the Facebook pages of the area surrounding your school: Not only can you tap into free or discounted events provided by your university, but you can also take advantage of the free city, town, or county events in the area surrounding your school. The quickest way to put your finger on the pulse of the community and in the areas in which you are specifically interested is to look up and join the city or county’s Facebook page. Most areas have organizations devoted to art, music, architecture, and charitable organizations.
- Make dinner with friends, suitemates, or roommates: With just a small contribution each for a trip to the grocery store or a donation from each participant’s food stash, prepare a unique community-derived meal.
- Attend a school sporting event: Even Division I football schools rarely charge admission fees for all NCAA sporting events. Most colleges and universities have a separate athletics’ events calendar which you can sign up for on your school’s athletic department website. Attend a softball, field hockey, or lacrosse game or make your way to a swim meet or wrestling contest. Many sporting disciplines rarely charge admission to events.
With a little effort and imagination, you can make your entertainment times almost as rewarding as your education. Just don’t become so proficient at having a good time that you forget about your studies.