As a college student, you have a lot of responsibilities. You’re juggling classes, homework, a social life, and perhaps an on-campus or off-campus job. With all of that going on, it can be hard to find time for hobbies.
However, hobbies can be a great way to relieve stress and improve your mental health. If you’re struggling to come up with good hobby ideas that can be done on a budget and in your spare time, this guide is for you. We came up with 30 fun and cheap new hobbies for college students to try.
The Best Hobbies for College Students
What makes a hobby a good one for a college student? The answer to that question depends on you and your interests. Because college students are as different as hobbies themselves, we tried to make this list as diverse as possible. With that said, we also tried to stick to a few basic tenets when narrowing down our 30 top hobbies for college students.
First, we stuck as closely as we could with hobbies that can be done on a budget, as we know most college students aren’t made of money. Second, we picked hobbies that can be done in your spare time. We also know how busy the life of a college student is!
We also tried to pick hobbies that can help you relax and de-stress, and that you can do either with friends or alone. That said, we gravitated toward hobbies that are also mentally or physically stimulating.
Lastly, we tried to pick as many hobbies as we could that are easy to practice for life, not just during your four years in college.
Here are the top 30 hobbies we came up with:
Disc golf is the quintessential hobby for college students for a number of reasons. It’s a perfect way to get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air and exercise. It’s also a very affordable hobby. All you need is a disc, which you can buy in sets of three — a driver, a chipper, and a putter — for about $20 (link to Amazon), and a place to play. And, it’s a great way to meet new people and make friends.
Disc golf is easy to learn but difficult to master, so it’s the perfect hobby for college students who are looking for something challenging. It’s also a great way to relieve stress after a long day of classes or studying.
College is the perfect time to pick up skateboarding, especially if you go to school in a place that stays relatively warm throughout the winter.
Why skateboarding? One, it’s a great way to get exercise. Skateboarding is a physical activity that requires balance and coordination. It also helps you burn calories and stay in shape.
Two, it’s affordable. Skateboards are relatively inexpensive, and you can often find a high-quality used board at a garage sale or online. You can even find new high-quality boards for under $50 (link to Amazon).
Three, it’s fun! Skateboarding is a fantastic stress reliever and an ideal hobby for thrill-seekers. There’s nothing like cruising around on your board, feeling the wind in your hair (or, ideally, your helmet).
Finally, it’s a viable mode of transportation to class and other activities. It’s way faster than walking, and you don’t have to hunt for a parking space for your car (assuming your college lets you have a car) or a safe place to lock your bike. Just kick up your board, tuck it under your arm, and carry it into class with you.
Although some college students may view backgammon as an old-fashioned game, it can actually be quite fun and challenging. Not only that, but backgammon can also be a great way to socialize and meet new people.
Backgammon is a great way to relieve stress and take a break from studying or working on assignments. It takes very little time to set up and play. You can do it the old-fashioned way with a board and pieces, or you can play virtually against opponents from around the world (or artificial intelligence).
The game can also help improve your concentration and problem-solving skills — both critical for success not only in college but in your career after you graduate. It’s a social game that can be enjoyed with friends, and if your school has a backgammon club, it can lead to new friends!
A great way to counterbalance some of the unhealthier aspects of college living is to try CrossFit. It is one of the most efficient modes of exercise to get in shape, and it can also be a lot of fun. Plus, it’s a great way to meet new people and make new friends.
CrossFit is a great hobby for college students because it’s intense and challenging, but it also has a major social component. Most CrossFit boxes, particularly those with a youthful membership base, party and socialize as hard as they train.
Powerlifting is a relatively cheap hobby that offers a ton of benefits for college students. You can usually learn at least the basics in your school’s gym or rec center, which is almost always covered under your student activities fee. Many colleges have club powerlifting programs, and some even have varsity teams.
If you want to take it to the next level, most hole-in-the-wall powerlifting gyms offer memberships for under $50 a month.
Why try powerlifting in college? One, it’s a great way to get in shape and improve your overall fitness level. You’ll build muscle, gain strength, burn fat, and increase your self-image and self-confidence.
Two, it’s a fantastic stress reliever. After cramming for a midterm or final for five hours, few things feel better than putting 400 or 500 pounds on the bar and letting ‘er rip!
If you’re not pugilistic by nature, you may never have considered boxing as a potential hobby. But it can be a great way to relieve stress, get in shape, and learn self-defense. It’s also relatively inexpensive and can be done at most gyms or boxing clubs — or even in your college’s rec center.
Boxing can reduce stress levels, even if you’re just pounding it out on the heavy bag. It’s one of the best workouts for releasing endorphins, which have mood-boosting properties. In addition, boxing requires focus and concentration, which can help take your mind off of other worries.
If you decide to get real with it and spar with other people, you can do it safely by taking a few precautions. If you and your opponent wear proper headgear and soft, heavily padded gloves, you shouldn’t have to worry about concussions or addled brain syndrome like the pros get.
Rock climbing is an excellent way to break the monotony of student life, get outside, get exercise, and get your adrenaline pumping. Because rock climbing communities tend to be extremely close-knit, it’s also an ideal way to meet people and find your tribe in college.
It’s surprisingly inexpensive. You’ll want to spend the money on a quality harness and safety gear — that’s definitely not an area where it’s OK to skimp — but after that, all you need is a good rock to climb, which is, of course, free.
If you live somewhere like Florida where natural climbing rocks are hard to come by, many gyms have indoor climbing walls where you can hone your skills. They’re even becoming a common fixture in college rec centers.
Tennis is a great way to stay in shape and have fun at the same time. It provides a solid cardio workout that also works your arms, legs, and core. It also lets you get outside and get some sun and fresh air.
You can meet new people by playing tennis at the campus recreation center or in an intramural league, which most colleges and universities offer. Playing tennis is a great way to make friends and stay connected with others.
Tennis is also affordable. You don’t need expensive equipment to play. A basic racket that costs under $50 (link to Amazon) is enough to get started. You can always level up if you decide at some point to take the game more seriously.
Compared to regular tennis, table tennis is a more low-key way for college students to stay active and have fun. You can also do it indoors no matter the weather. It’s a fast-paced game that requires quick reflexes and can be played by people of all skill levels. Best of all, it’s inexpensive to get started. Most college rec centers — and even many dorm or apartment common areas — have tables you can play on. Paddles and balls are usually supplied, as well.
Table tennis is an easy, cheap, and fun way to socialize and meet new people. Whether you’re playing in a tournament or just hitting some balls around with friends, table tennis lets you connect with others, share some laughs, and get your competitive juices flowing.
It’s also a highly underrated workout. Table tennis is an aerobic activity that gets your heart pumping and can help you burn calories. And because it’s a low-impact sport, it’s easy on your joints.
Crossword puzzles are the perfect way to keep your mind sharp while having some fun. They can be challenging and stimulating, while also providing a welcome break from studying. You can do them anywhere; all you need is a pen and paper (or a smartphone app).
Crossword puzzles aren’t just a fun way to kill time. They’re also great for brain health and have been shown to improve memory and cognitive skills. They can help you learn new words and improve your vocabulary. And even if you’re not trying to buff up your brain, crossword puzzles can relieve stress and help you relax.
Bowling is one of those sports that should be way more popular with young people than it is. It’s a great way to stay active without being too strenuous or taxing on your body. It requires you to use your body and mind at the same time, which can help improve your coordination. It’s also a ton of fun!
Bowling is also a great social activity. You can meet new people at the bowling alley and make new friends. And as a bonus, it might be the only sport in the world where beer actually improves your game!
If you’re looking for an affordable hobby, bowling qualifies. If you hit up your local bowling alley on an off night — not a Friday or Saturday — you can often play for as little as a dollar or two a game. Many college campuses have their own bowling alleys that are even more affordable.
In the age of technology, coding is rapidly growing in popularity among young people not only as a career choice but also as a hobby. There are several reasons to take up coding as a hobby in college, even if you aren’t majoring in computer science or a STEM field.
One, coding is a great way to improve your problem-solving skills. It can also help you better understand how technology works. You can use your coding skills to create useful and interesting things.
Perhaps most importantly of all, coding is a skill that will always be in demand. Even if you don’t pursue software development as a career, coding skills look great on a resume in any field.
Poker isn’t just for degenerate gamblers. It can actually be a fun and productive hobby for college students.
For one, it’s a very social game that can be enjoyed with friends. It can also be played online, making it a convenient pastime for busy students. Additionally, poker is a great way to relieve stress and improve concentration.
Poker is also an excellent way to develop strategic thinking skills. The game requires players to make decisions based on incomplete information, which is similar to real-world situations. This makes poker an ideal training ground for future business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Finally, poker can be quite lucrative if you learn how to play well. But you don’t have to play for high stakes. Many colleges have poker clubs that organize tournaments that are free or have extremely low buy-ins.
It’s not by happenstance that soccer is the most popular sport on the globe. For one, it’s one of the most fun ways you can get exercise. It’s also a social activity that can help you meet new people. And it’s affordable — you don’t need any expensive equipment to play.
Soccer is one of the most popular intramural sports on many college campuses. Most fraternities and sororities have intramural teams. Even if you’re not Greek, it’s pretty easy to round up some friends from the dorm, your classes, or other on-campus clubs and form a squad.
If you’re musically inclined, why not pick up a used guitar — you can often find one for under $100 — and learn to play. There are cheap and even free apps that will teach you the basics.
Why guitar? One, there’s just something about strumming chords that relaxes the mind and puts you in a good mood. Two, it’s a fantastic stress reliever. Playing guitar can be therapeutic, and it’s a great way to unwind after a long day of classes.
Practicing the guitar is also a great way to improve your concentration. It can help you tune out distractions and focus on the tasks at hand.
Finally, guitar can be a social activity, and you can meet new and interesting people through the hobby. Not to mention, it can send your stock surging in the dating market!
If tickling ivories is more your style than strumming strings — or if you have fat fingers like mine that won’t fit into a fret — then piano is another great way to develop your musical side. Like the guitar, the piano is a great stress reliever. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with exams or papers, sitting down and playing some calming music can help clear your head.
Practicing the piano can also boost your brain power. Studies have shown it improves memory, reasoning, and language skills.
And even though piano might seem like a solo hobby, it can expose you to new and interesting people. If you join a campus music club or take lessons at a local music school, you’ll get to meet other students who share your interest.
Writing is not only a great hobby but a great habit to get into at an early age. It helps you organize your thoughts, and evidence has shown that people who keep a daily journal do a better job of staving off the effects of cognitive decline as they age.
Becoming a writer doesn’t mean you have to sit at a little desk and write a novel. You can keep a journal to document your thoughts and feelings, or start a blog about your interests. It’s a great way to relax and de-stress, and it can also help you generate creative ideas you might not have otherwise come up with.
Mud running is a great workout, but more than that, it’s a lot of fun.
If you want to get outside and get exercise, mud running is a fun and exciting way to do it. You can enter a mud run with friends or do one by yourself and likely make new friends. It’s also very affordable. A college student on a budget can easily find mud runs to participate in around campus or in the community.
It’s a great workout that is far less monotonous than traditional running. Thanks to the muddy terrain and the obstacles along the way, you’ll work your full body, including muscles you probably don’t even know you have.
Mountain biking is a great hobby for college students for a number of reasons. It lets you get outside, get fresh air, and explore terrain and scenery you might otherwise miss. It’s also a killer workout. Mountain biking can be a highly social activity, as there are many opportunities to meet new people and make new friends while out on the trails.
Another great reason to take up mountain biking is that it’s relatively inexpensive. You don’t need to buy a fancy bike or spend a lot of money on gear, and there are many trails that are free to use. You can find high-quality brand new mountain bikes online for less than $150 (link to Amazon). Even if you do decide to invest in some nicer equipment, you can do so without breaking the bank.
Debating is a great hobby for college students to try. It’s a fun way to meet new people and learn about different topics. Plus, it can help you hone your public speaking skills.
It’s easy to get started, too. You could join a campus debate club or society, which nearly all colleges have. If you’d rather not participate in something that organized, you can always just attend campus events and lectures. Many colleges invite guest speakers to campus, which can provide excellent opportunities to watch and learn from experienced debaters.
For an even more low-key way to get involved in debating as a hobby, simply practice at home by debating with friends or family members on topics of interest. If you attend a school where students tend to be open-minded and accepting of different viewpoints, all the better! This will help you sharpen your debating skills in a relaxed setting.
If you want to improve your self-confidence and your communication skills, but confrontation isn’t your thing, you may want to try plain public speaking instead of debating.
Once again, you have a few ways to get started as a college student. The easiest is to join a local toastmasters club. There might even be one on campus. It’s a fantastic way to practice your public speaking skills in a supportive environment.
Another possibility is to sign up to give speeches at campus events. There are always opportunities to give short speeches at campus events like club meetings or orientation sessions. It might seem daunting at first, but remember, we’re all our own worst critics. The audience won’t judge you nearly as harshly as you judge yourself.
If you want to flex your competitive muscle, you could even enter local public speaking competitions. There are often competitions for college students that allow you to showcase your skills. These can be great experiences and can help you build your confidence even more.
If you’re looking for a way to relieve the stress from your course load, martial arts is a great way to do that. Not only does it provide an outlet for pent-up energy, but it also teaches discipline and focus.
Martial arts can be an excellent form of exercise, helping to improve strength, flexibility, and stamina. It’s also a great way to meet new people and make friends, as most classes encourage interaction and teamwork.
And finally, martial arts is one of the best ways to learn self-defense. With assaults and other crimes on the rise on college campuses, it’s always good to know how to protect yourself.
Swimming is one of the best hobbies you can pick up at a young age. It provides arguably a better full-body workout than any other form of exercise. Plus it’s low impact, so it won’t wear down your joints over time like running.
In addition, swimming is a great way to relieve stress. We all know that exercise reduces anxiety and boosts mood. And what better way to exercise than by swimming laps in a refreshing pool?
Swimming is also an activity that you can enjoy for the rest of your life. You don’t need a team or even a partner. Just a pool and the motivation to dive in!
Golf is possibly the most technically challenging sport in the world, but it’s also one of the most fun. You can play alone or with friends. It’s also a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. And, best of all, it’s relatively inexpensive to get started. You can get a great set of brand new clubs for under $200 (link to Amazon) or a used set for even less than that.
Golf is also a great way to meet new people and make some lasting friendships. And if you’re going into the business world, it’s almost a de facto requirement to have at least a basic level of proficiency on the links. After all, that’s where the big deals get closed.
An appreciation for great literature is one of the best lifelong hobbies you can adopt in college. And it makes no difference whether you’re majoring in English or you’re majoring in a STEM field or anything else.
Why become a literary aficionado? First off, it’s one of the cheapest hobbies you can have. All you need is a library card or a Kindle and you have access to millions of books!
Second, it’s portable. You can take your books with you wherever you go, whether you’re traveling on the bus or taking a study break in the quad.
Third, it’s relaxing. Reading can be a great way to wind down after a long day of classes or studying.
Fourth, it stimulates creativity. A good book can make you think about things in new and different ways.
Finally, despite what you might think, studying literature can be a social hobby. Discussing what you’re reading with friends can be a great way to connect with people who share your interests.
Trivia is not only a fun pastime, but it can provide a number of tangible benefits to college students. For one, playing trivia can help improve your memory and cognitive skills. College students are often juggling multiple classes and extracurricular activities, so anything that can help with time management and organization is valuable.
Trivia can also be a great way to meet new people and make friends, especially if you join a trivia team or club on campus. And lastly, playing trivia can simply be a relaxing and enjoyable way to take a break from studying or other stressors in your life.
Journaling is a great way for college students to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. But that doesn’t mean you have to be depressed to take it up! It can also help with time management and goal setting. It’s a fun, creative, and inexpensive hobby that can be done anywhere, at any time.
Vlogging, or video blogging, is a relatively new concept. But if you like seeing yourself on camera, it might be the perfect hobby.
First, vlogging is a unique creative outlet that can help you express yourself and your thoughts on various topics. Second, vlogging can be a fun way to document your life and experiences during your college years. Third, vlogging can be a great source of income — many successful vloggers make a full-time living from their YouTube channels!
If you have a strong artistic side — and that doesn’t just mean the ability to draw good pictures — you should consider developing it into a hobby while you’re in college.
First, art can help relieve stress and anxiety. Several studies have found that drawing and painting can reduce stress levels and improve moods.
Second, art can also boost memory and concentration. A study from the University of Texas found that students who took an art class had better test scores than those who didn’t.
Lastly, pursuing art as a hobby can increase your sense of self-efficacy, or your belief in your own ability to succeed. Another study from the University of Pennsylvania found that college students who participated in creative activities felt more confident about their ability to achieve their goals.
Travel might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “cheap” hobbies you can enjoy on a college student’s budget. But there are absolutely ways to travel on the cheap. Perhaps the best way to travel as a college student is to sign up for a semester abroad. Not only will you get to explore a new culture, but you’ll get college credit for it and often won’t have to pay anything more than you would’ve spent on tuition anyway.
Even if you don’t study abroad, you can quench the travel bug in college by planning ahead and securing cheap flight and hotel deals. And if that still doesn’t fit into your budget, there’s always the greatest college tradition of all: the road trip!