For anyone like me who scheduled his or her homework around Access Hollywood, leaving home for college life can bring about a lot of change. Things are different in an academic setting and while your friends are focused on midterms and final projects, you're more concerned about the finale of Project Runway. The entertainment world continues rotating and while you are stuck in the four year college bubble, it may be hard to pop back and keep tabs on upcoming movie releases, new TV shows, or which Kardashian is pregnant and/or getting a divorce. But college is also about learning to live on a budget, so how can you balance your education and entertainment needs on a dime?
Here are some tips to successfully stay pop culturally aware and relevant while earning your diploma and not blowing through your wallet.
Your schedule in college is not like your schedule in high school, so use that to your advantage! You may only have one class on a given day and a lot of empty time in your schedule. Of course, studying should probably be your first priority, but look into your local movie theatre and see what special prices they have for different times of the day. Many movie theatres will offer a special "Early Bird" price for the first showing of the day that can sometimes be a 50 percent discount from a regular evening ticket price and/or a regularly reduced matinee price. If your days are just a little too busy to take a cinematic break, don't forget to ask about student discount prices for regular times.
What I Did -- Does 3D make that big of a difference, honestly? Save your dollars and skip the extra price for the glasses and extra dimension. You will see the exact same movie as everyone else and save yourself money (and a potential headache).
No question, this was the hardest adjustment for me. As a huge TV lover, my parents never gave me any restrictions while growing up so moving into my freshman year dorm without a cable hookup was a big shock and adjustment. Television, however, is also a great socializing tool to make new friends. Many college dorms may have a common area with a TV. If yours does, pick one show a week you want to watch live with a group of your friends. You'll get to watch the show in the same comforts of home without feeling like a hermit. Luckily the Internet has become a TV fan's new best friend. Netflix is arguably the most popular online site for streaming instant videos, with a library of countless movies and full TV seasons. And the best part is? Your mom or dad probably already has an account you can use (or your best friend, roommate, etc.) so you don't have to spend any extra money to binge watch The West Wing or Friday Night Lights.
What I Did -- For the avid TV watcher who may be willing to spend a little more money, try Hulu Plus. For $7.99/month, you have access to all the current TV shows that Netflix doesn't provide, often available the day after the show's original airing. With an account, Hulu will also keep track of all of the shows you want to watch in your personal queue, so you won't forget about new episodes or premiere dates.
My family had multiple magazine subscriptions while I was growing up that allowed me to indulge in all my entertainment gossip news from People to who was on the cover of my mom's Redbook to the latest happenings in my hometown with The New Yorker. Magazines are a great source of pop culture information for the active student because it'll get sent right to your dorm and it's a great distraction to read in the library when you should be studying. This is also a great opportunity to get creative using your graduation gifts. Instead of relatives giving you money, how about a one-year subscription to a magazine of your choice? Also, many magazines come from the same large publishers and will provide discounts for multiple subscriptions. So, just because you don't want to read your mom's Vanity Fair, doesn't mean it can't help you get your own Sports Illustrated.
What I Did -- I already had a personal subscription to Entertainment Weekly before I went to college but my parents liked to read it just as much as me. For students with iPads, Kindles or any other tablets, magazines now have digital editions you can download. One subscription includes both the print and digital editions, so leave the paper trail back at home as you can still read all of your favorite magazines using your parent's subscriptions and make everyone happy.