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Image from Pexels

As a college student, you are most likely living on a budget. The budget might simply be self imposed or it might be a reflection of financial constraints; either way making a budget and sticking to it are smart decisions that will serve you well. Come December, many students will be mulling over the different possibilities that spring break will offer. Students will also be applying to summer internships and planning for summer trips. While it would be nice to ignore cost constraints when planning your breaks (who wouldn’t want that in an ideal world?), budgeting for the trips are often unavoidable parts of the planning process. However, if you are resourceful and plan ahead, you might be able to enjoy trips of equal quality with less money.

Stay on campus for short breaks 

The number and type of breaks differ for different colleges. However, most of the time students will have the option of staying on campus for short breaks such as fall break, Thanksgiving break, and perhaps even spring break. Despite the highly visible absence of many of your friends who have left campus for the break, you would be surprised to find that people sometimes do stay on campus for various reasons. In fact, college campuses during breaks have a completely different feel, not lonelier, just different. The atmosphere become more intimidate as you gain a new level of camaraderie with friends who stay on campus.

Besides having the campus to yourself, schools often offer other perks to the students who stay on campus. Sometimes, activities, such as subsidized movie outings or trips, will be planned for entertainment. Some groups might offer outdoors trips or day trips to nearby attractions. You can have just as much fun, if not more, when you stay back with friends.

Travel with school groups

Many student organizations often plan trips for winter and spring breaks that have a variety of purposes, ranging from education, to team bonding, to volunteering. Following along the theme of subsidized activities, group trips are often subsidized in varying proportions. In addition, fundraising is often an option that is offered, and when done collectively, it could be effective and fun. Furthermore, sometimes the group leaders will even already have all the logistics planned out so you will not have to worry about making hotel reservations or figuring out public transportation.

Explore fellowships 

Although the costs of going abroad for extended periods of time may seem prohibitive for a type of research you would like to conduct or a course of study you would like to pursue, there are many specific fellowships available that allows you to do just that. Fellowships are often grants offered by donors or foundations that will not have to be paid back. Each fellowship has a different purpose, but they generally seek to fund projects that will make an impact in either your personal growth or for the world.

What should you do if you are interested in obtaining a fellowship? Well, first you should have a project in mind, preferably in a well thought out proposal so that the funders could clearly see why they should support you financially. This proposal will include elements such as purpose of the project, logistics about how the project will be carried out, details about outcome expected, and a well-researched budget that details both project costs and costs of living. Second, start doing some research on potential resources by talking to your school’s fellowships office and looking online. Talk to fellow classmates, professors and mentors to receive feedback on your proposal. With dedication and a little luck, you might just discover that you get to explore a topic you have always been interested in for free.

The bottom line is that there are limitless resources out there. The hard part, the part that not everyone is willing to work on, is reaching out and asking for those resources. If you think creatively enough, you could find ways of funding almost any endeavor you have in mind for the future.

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the author

Jinchen is a senior in high school from Texas. Often described as “bouncy”, Jinchen’s enthusiasm coats everything from deep philosophical discussions about amoebas to fresh homemade smoothies to new archeological digs. Jinchen can be spotted volunteering at the zoo or museum, planning new events, scribbling and doodling in her treasured journal, or staring at the sky and thinking about the meaning of life. She loves anything international affairs-related and has recently discovered her interest in engineering. Having lived on three continents, it is her dream to one day explore and travel around the world.

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