College will offer plenty of chances to meet people about your same age that share your interests and passions. It’s a time to become an independent citizen, make lasting friendships, locate and nurture future professional connections, maybe create a business or work opportunity, or maybe even to meet a partner (business/romantic/other).
It’s obvious you will have courses that are required for your major, but there will also be opportunities to explore interests, sports, or clubs -depending on the size of your school. If certain subjects have not been offered, one suggestion for use of your free time may be to get hold of the local newspaper (or school newspaper) and seek out lectures, films, concerts and other cultural and social events where like-minded people gather. This may fall into the category of entertainment, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be an “autopilot” experience. The stimulating environment you’ve chosen for your brain will greatly assist in your education and college experience, and if the event isn’t free, oftentimes, there will be a student discount to encourage your attendance. Be open to meeting new people during these events. Listen closely and take an active part if you have expertise, a strong viewpoint, or something to add. One never knows where the next road will lead. You might be discovered here!
If your school does not offer a certain elective or club, why not consider starting one or contact an instructor to sponsor one? Not only will this leave behind something you have created that can be enjoyed by future students, but you will also be developing your leadership and social skills – two talents that attending college can foster. This is also another place to create important relationships and gain experience in your free time.
How about some very basic, but necessary aspects of life at college, such as: doing your laundry, shopping for groceries, taking care of your health/exercising? Maybe not so much while feeding yourself, but certainly you can be studying for exams/reading/listening to lectures on your Ipod – all while doing your laundry or exercising. Perhaps you can create a potluck study group? How about a running club that discusses a particular topic? Maybe you simply meet at the college dining hall after a game of ultimate Frisbee and discuss current events or a certain exam question? Take the time to feed your body as well as your brain by getting enough sleep. Meditation or yoga practice can help you to stay focused and healthy, and are a fine use of your free time.
Do you and/or your roommates rock? You might start a band – perhaps playing original songs, popular cover songs, or both. Depending on how talented or ambitious you are, this fun free time distraction from your studies might open some interesting avenues of opportunity. And again, your leadership and social skills will be put to the test as you perform for classmates and the public. If you have no musical skill but own a laptop computer and enjoy listening or creating awesome, entertaining playlists, maybe you can DJ at school and other social events?
Tutor or mentor your classmates: The name of the game at college – and possibly life – might be, “you get what you give” and there can be no better teacher and fast track to becoming an expert than to gain experience and then give it back to others who may be struggling to understand a concept or skill set. This is why I am suggesting that you tutor or mentor your classmates in your free time. Any area where you have a strength and others may be struggling can become an opportunity for both of you to enrich your college learning experience. This can apply not only to classwork, but to social networking, health habits, etc.
The most obvious use of college free time may be to study, but study, professional, and personal enrichment take many forms. They are not necessarily restricted to a college-sponsored activity. Your time at school doesn’t mean life has stopped in its tracks, although you will be very focused on a particular area of interest. Nurturing yourself through healthy friendships, exploring relationships, pursuing interests and new ideas, and generally exploring the world in a safe and supportive environment, whether it be in your free time or in the classroom is what college is all about.