The beginning of college marks the end of six-hour school days, after-school activities, family dinners and bedtimes. Goodbye, structure; hello, freedom! If you’re wondering how you’re going to fill the hours between jotting notes in Anthropology 101 and practicing flip cup, keep reading.
Work Your Dorm
Truth be told, most college kids fill their days with a little bit of class, a little bit of schoolwork and a lot of hanging around the dorm. As for the latter, well, it’s only boring when you do it alone.
Even if you can’t stand your roommate, or don’t have one, finding camaraderie among your neighbors is easy enough and even easier if you start early in the semester. Dorm league intramural sports and dorm-wide competitions are great icebreakers, but you don’t need to wait for an organized activity to get your friendly game on. Knock on doors and introduce yourself, leave fun messages on your neighbors’ whiteboards and talk to people you meet in your lounge or bathroom. Trust us, most people love it when you start a conversation while they have a mouthful of toothpaste.
Join the Club
Whether you’re an athlete who didn’t make it to varsity, a former student-body president with political aspirations or even a die-hard fan of the TV show Lost, chances are your school will have an organization to suit you. (If it turns out your school doesn’t, then make a little history by starting your own.) It doesn’t hurt to do a bit of research before you head off for first semester so you know what is available and whether you can (or want to) commit.
College clubs and recreational sports teams are usually much less demanding than those in high school, which can meet up daily, and they can also have more perks. A networking club for your major might offer road trips to local cities, while a movie club might show free films. Plus, most meetings come with free food that’s not from your dining hall. Sweet.
If Greek life is offered on your campus, it can provide a solid social network for filling up your downtime (and your social calendar). Most Greek organizations are affiliated with a particular philanthropic organization, which benefits from the many fundraisers (from sports tournaments to designer clothing sample sales) and events (such as speakers and comedians) held on campus during the week and on weekends. Attendance is often mandatory for all members of the Greek community, but nonmembers are almost always welcome.
When deciding whether or not to rush, ditch any preconceived notions and do your research by talking to brothers and sisters in your classes. Even if you still have no intention of joining one, keep the friends who do. They’ll probably be able to get you into their parties, another (obvious) perk.
Get off Your Butt
It’s easy to slip into periods of laziness over the course of your freshman year, and that’s not just in regard to homework. Just because you have the time to sit around watching TV doesn’t mean you should. The dreaded freshman 15 is cliché for a reason, and it is likely to take its toll if you fail to dedicate at least some of your spare time to preventing the growth of a spare tire. Running, lifting, biking and swimming are obvious ways to get exercise, but your college campus is a great outlet for experimenting with new activities. Sign up for a meditation class or drop in on a spinning session. You never know what might hook you.
Take Cool Classes
If your major or double major allows you any leeway in signing up for extra classes, take some that are out of your comfort zone. College is a time to take on subjects you’ve never experienced. One-credit classes such as badminton or intro-level Swahili will only cost you a few hours a week in exchange for an easy A and a newfound skill. Not only is it a great way to stretch your brainpower, but it gives you a chance to meet new people.
College life is fleeting, so don’t sit on the sidelines and do take advantage of new opportunities you won’t be offered elsewhere.
By David Replogle for The Real College Guide