What to Do With Your Downtime on Campus

Before coming to college, it can seem like all of your time might be possessed by work and stress. While this can (sometimes) be true, there are many times where you’ll find yourself without assignments to do or tests to study for. Luckily, there are so many things to do on campus that those times can be exciting, not boring. Here are some of the things I like to do when I find myself without anything to do.

Work out.

Here at Illinois, you get free membership to both gyms on campus: ARC and CRCE. Both gyms are incredible and have so many different ways for you to exercise as you please. Both have all kinds of weights, plenty of cardio equipment, and even pools if you want to swim or just relax. You’d be hard-pressed to find gyms anywhere else that are so large and have so much variety in the equipment provided. At least one of the gyms will end up being pretty close to whatever dorm you live in, which makes it super convenient to hop on over for a quick workout whenever you have some time.


Illinois is a huge campus. Chances are, even after you graduate, you will not have seen everything that there is to see on campus and outside of it. Whatever your interests might be, there are plenty of places that you should check out on campus while you have the opportunity. The Spurlock Museum and the Krannert Art Museum are both great places to look into if you like the arts, and if you’re more of a nature person, I recommend checking out Boneyard Greenway.

Some of my favorite places on campus to explore are all the great food places. Illinois has all the basics and plenty of awesome local food, and it can take a while to try it all. Zoe has some great suggestions in her blog post about all her favorite restaurants on campus, and honestly, I mostly agree with everything she has to say. You really do have to check out Maize before you graduate, though; the tacos are excellent.

Join an RSO.

Whatever your hobby might be, there’re other people here who do it too! Illinois has an RSO for pretty much everything, so using your free time to go meet people who like the same things as you is always a good idea. Whether it be a club, intramural, or greek life, there are many excellent organizations on campus where you can spend your free time and get your mind off of school. Check out the full list of over 1,000 RSOs at Illinois.

Get ahead!

While it might seem counter-intuitive to replace the time you have free with more work, oftentimes it is one of the best ways to use downtime. While you’re already in the working rhythm, it’s nice to get more work done than you need so you have longer periods of time for the activities you love. Many college classes give you the freedom to let you get ahead so you can plan better, so why not take it?

College isn’t meant to be all work; it’s a time to meet new people and try out life somewhere new. If you put your downtime to work instead of just laying around watching Netflix (nothing wrong with that), you’ll be able to look back at a great college experience.


Class of 2023
I am a sophomore studying Advertising on a Pre-Law track. I’m from Park Ridge, Illinois, about 30 minutes outside of Chicago. I've loved getting involved on campus through my job at Campus Recreation and participating in Greek Life. UIUC is my second home, and I think it should be yours, too!

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