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Class Is In Session: 10 Ways To Make Adventure Part Of Your College Education

The outdoors will teach you a thing or two.

By: Grant Thomas + Save to a List

Finding time to fit in adventures and enjoy the outdoors can be tough for anyone, let alone for a full-time student. If you’re in college like me, chances are you have struggled with balancing schoolwork, a social life, and living on your own for the first time. On top of that, finding time to get outside and explore can seem almost impossible. Fortunately, I have found a few ways that allow me to incorporate adventure into my busy schedule.

1. Get a group together and carpool to adventures.

Unfortunately, adventuring can sometimes be expensive. This can be a big problem for college students, as most of us don’t have extra money lying around. Gas money is the first thing that comes to mind when I consider going on a hike or road trip, as it can get pricey at times. Rather than canceling a trip because you don’t have enough money, invite a bunch of friends to join you! Splitting the cost of travel between friends can be a great way to make trips more affordable. Plus, who doesn’t love spending time with friends?

Hike to the Crow Pass Cabin | Photo: Noah Couser

2. Study outside.

You don’t always need to go on a huge trip to get the adventure you’re craving. Often times you can get outside and explore right on your campus! Chances are the college or university you attend has lots of trees, a sprawling lawn, a scenic pond, or maybe even a garden. All of these places offer a great spot to retreat to when you’re sick of studying in the library. So what are you waiting for? Grab your books and find the perfect outdoor study spot! I promise that studying for your midterm will be a lot more enjoyable if you’re outside!

3. Learn from the locals.

It’s quite possible that you’re going to school in an area or state that you aren’t familiar with. This can make finding local places to hike, bike, ski, fish, etc. very challenging. Luckily, finding these places only takes a little initiative. If you have any friends who are from the area you can always get the inside scoop from them. If not, visit your local REI, Cabela’s, or Bass Pro Shop. The workers there are all great resources when it comes to adventuring and they would be happy to share their favorite spots with you. And of course, you can always find local adventures from everyone on The Outbound .

4. Join outdoor clubs or teams.

Universities tend to pride themselves in the many clubs and activities they offer to their students. I know my school alone has over 150 clubs available for students to join! Outdoors clubs are the go-to for most outdoorsy people, but sports teams also offer great opportunities for adventure! Any sport that gets you to go outside and moving is a great way to reduce your stress and curb your desire to get outdoors!

Hike to Surenenpass in the Uri Alps | Photo: Justin Dong

5. Study abroad.

If only there was a way you could travel to a new country and still get college credits…oh wait, there is! Look into the options your school has for a study abroad program. You might be surprised to find that campuses around the entire world offer the same courses you are required to take to earn your degree back at home. There is no harm in looking into a study abroad program. Heck, if it could lead to a semester of exploring a new country (errr… I mean studying and doing homework) then it is definitely worth a shot!

6. Take classes to learn skills that translate to the outdoors.

Just as universities offer many clubs to join, they may also offer training courses that can translate directly to your favorite outdoor activity. Get CPR certified so you are prepared if anything bad happens when you are out and about. Take a lifeguard certification course, especially if you plan on spending time in the water. Land navigation can also be an important skill to learn. You can never be too prepared for what might come your way on your next outdoor adventure!

7. Take history classes about adventure or exploration.

Most majors require students to take a few history credits. While at first glance these classes may seem boring, you may be able to find a class that interests you and still fulfills your history requirement. Check with your counselor to see if your school offers a class on North American exploration or something along those lines.

10 Reasons Why You Should Take a NOLs Course | Photo: Jacob W. Frank

8. Do a semester with the National Outdoor Leadership School.

A traditional education in a classroom setting is certainly important, however, listening to a lecture is not the only way to gain valuable information. NOLS offers an education that you can’t get in the classroom. From map reading to outdoor cooking, you will certainly pick up some valuable life experience! Most NOLS courses even offer college credit for students too so it is definitely worth looking into!

9. Appreciate and make the most of what the area around you has.

What are the main outdoor activities to do around campus? Maybe you go to school near the mountains and skiing is a big deal. Maybe there are several rivers in close proximity to your campus allowing for opportunities to go fishing. Just because you haven’t skied or fished before shouldn’t stop you from trying something new! Immersing yourself in the local outdoor culture can be a great way to challenge yourself and grow as an outdoor enthusiast. Plus, you might even find a new favorite hobby!

10. Find small ways to fit being outside into your daily routine.

Despite all of these tips, it’s possible to still feel deprived of the outdoors. If that is the case then you may just have to get outside at all costs. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to finish a phone call outside instead of in your dorm, or to eat lunch outside instead of in the cafeteria. So when all else fails, incorporate getting outside in little ways. Every little bit helps!

5 Easy Ways to Make Getting Outside Part of Your Daily Routine | Photo: Christin Healey

Hopefully these few tips can help you incorporate adventure into your busy schedule. I know I have utilized these same tips and have been able to find the adventure that had been missing from my life during my time away at college. So what are you waiting for? Go put these tips to the test and see how you can transform your college experience to one filled with adventure!

Cover photo: Noah Couser

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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