Now that I've been out of school for almost two years (still pretending that's not true), I've really come to appreciate and realize all of the things that my amazing campus had to offer - at no additional cost. I totally took for granted all of the advice, support, and amazing experiences I had right at my fingertips that I never bothered to look into!
Once you graduate, you really start to realize how many things have additional costs and charges. Suddenly, if you want to try out a new hobby or skill, or receive some career advice, you have access to it...it just might cost you upwards of $100/hour.
To help others avoid taking these free offerings for granted like I did at times, I thought I'd pull together a list of all of the different free resources and advantages there are on almost all college campuses!
1. Trying Out New Skills - I can definitely understand not wanting to add additional unnecessary courses to an already packed class schedule, and sometimes it may simply not be feasible. It's still worth exploring options though - you'd be surprised what courses count for certain credits. I had friends try horseback riding, painting, and after I graduated (of course) I found out there was even a blogging course! There are so many fun hobbies to try, and they'll never be free again. Now is the time!
2. Technology Access - Not only do colleges come with their own little "Genius Bar" there to help answer and solve all of your technology issues, but I learned that they can also teach you a lot of incredibly helpful skills! I signed up for a free hour-long lesson a few weeks in a row to learn some software like Adobe Creative Suites and Photoshop, and I even ended up purchasing it with a massive student discount I wasn't aware that I had.
3. Finding the Right Fitness Plan for You - This one can vary a little more than the others, but most colleges have group fitness classes and sometimes even trainers at your disposal. One part of post-grad that was really tough for me was finding a new workout regimen that worked for me (and I finally found it, you can read about it here!) I wish I had tried out yoga, pilates, barre, kickboxing, and everything in between while they were free and right down the street at the rec center.
4. Tutoring & Writing Help - This one I totally utilized many times, and man oh man did it save my GPA. There is no shame in needing some extra help in a course, and personally I found that office hours didn't give me the help that I needed. Most campuses have free tutors you can sign up for, and meet with weekly to go over homework questions that are troubling you, help you study and do practice questions for a quiz, and show you where you're going wrong! There are also usually writing centers that will go over any paper, writing assignment, or even a resume for you.
5. Study Abroad/Grant Opportunities - Okay, obviously the majority of the time, studying abroad is not free and actually very costly, but hear me out! For those who have dreamed of studying abroad but don't have the funds, hope is not lost. Look into whether or not your school has a TA position or a grant opportunity to apply for that will send you abroad at the school's cost. I've had friends student teach and apply for scholarships to take a short 3-week course over Christmas break at no cost to them, and I never knew that was even possible!
6. ALL of the discounts - I'm sure you've seen lists floating around the internet about all of the various types of student discounts you can receive in retail stores, movie theaters, and even restaurants! Still, this extends way beyond what people are normally aware of. Free access to Microsoft Office, discounts on other computer software and tools, technology accessories, and even fitness center discounts in other cities like Chicago! (I used mine at the DePaul rec center while I was a summer intern, and it was a game changer). My method - just ask! Every time I swiped my card, I asked the cashier if they offer any sort of discounts.
7. Career Advice & Support - I only set foot into the career services center on my campus one single time, and looking back on that, I can't stop laughing at how absurd it is! They have people there willing to look over resumes and cover letters, help you learn how to market yourself for the jobs you're seeking, and will even go above and beyond to help you find the right job or internship for you! They offer mock interview practice, and so many other ways to set you up for success. DO NOT waste this!
So get out there and take advantage of the "free" things your campus has to offer - and I say free in quotes because we all know college isn't free. So whether it's your parents, your scholarship, or your loans footing the bill, it's still money that shouldn't go to waste.
Have any of you ever discovered something on campus you weren't originally aware of?!