When paying for college, the list of expenses never seems to end. Besides tuition, housing, and food, there are often activity fees, insurance bills, textbook costs, and other hidden charges.
Fortunately, though, there are many “free” things to do in college, that is, things that have no hidden fees besides the already exorbitant charges on your yearly bill. In order to get the most bang for your buck, I recommend taking advantage of these seven free things in college, that will make you wealthier — in more than one sense of the word.
1. Internship and Career Offices.
Worried about finding work after college? Thankfully, most colleges offer resources for finding both internships and jobs after graduation. Often times, these offices also help students revamp old resumes and make them college appropriate as well as teach them how to write cover letters. Many companies and organizations actually partner with schools and ask them to send them students for their internships and jobs; thus, going through these offices betters your chance of getting a position.
2. Writing Centers.
For almost all careers, having a strong writing background is crucial. Of course, being a good writer is extremely important in college as well, especially for writing-based classes. Fortunately, many colleges have their own writing centers. The employees at these centers are generally writing professionals who help you improve your writing skills and work with you on class assignments. Just be aware that they will generally not read over an entire essay for you — so come prepared with specific questions!
3. School-Specific Scholarships.
Think that being in college means no more scholarships to apply for? Well, that’s actually not the case! Many universities offer school-specific scholarships, which are valuable because they tend to be less competitive than national scholarships. Often times, these scholarships are funded by an alumni association and are for students of a certain background.
4. Extracurricular Activities.
Looking for something to do during your spare time? Extracurricular activities are a fun, and not to mention important part of college life. Not only do extracurricular activities help you meet new people, but they often provide valuable skills as well. For example, clubs such as Model UN and Mock Trial teach you public speaking skills and connect you to a great group of people with similar interests. Other clubs may even teach you pre-professional skills such as investing or marketing.
5. Finding an On Campus Job in College.
Having a job in college, especially a work-study job, is very valuable as well. Work-study jobs are great because the federal government actually subsidizes the wages your school pays you. Therefore, it is easier for work-study students to find on campus jobs. At my school, I work as a receptionist in the School of International Relations, which has been great because I’ve learned a lot about my major, international relations, and the IR related classes and opportunities my school offers. Overall, on campus jobs are great because they teach you about good things to take advantage of at your school and tend to be close to your dorm.
One of the best opportunities in college is getting to do research. While it may seem difficult to actually find a professor to do research with, I’ve found that most professors actually wish more students would reach out to them about it. Definitely look into research grants, as many schools offer both academic year and summer grants for research projects. Research in itself looks great on a resume, and if you can get a stipend for it, that’s even better!
7. Study Abroad.
Technically, study abroad programs are not “free;” however, in many cases, they may actually have a cheaper tuition and room and board than at your home institution. Many schools also offer additional scholarships specifically for study abroad. Another often inexpensive study abroad option is service/volunteering trips during school breaks. Through fundraisers and subsidies, these trips end up being quite affordable and offer you a wealth of experiences.