7 Fun & Affordable Back-to-Campus Date Ideas

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A fresh class schedule and endless nights out with your best girls aren’t the only perks of being back on campus; you’ll also be part of the campus dating scene again!

This could be the semester when the cutie you had chemistry with in the spring finally makes a move. It could also be the time when you and your boyfriend go on the best date you’ve ever had. Whatever your romantic situation might be, going on dates is a relationship necessity. They allow you to spend time with the one you love while having a ton of fun.

To make sure you stay on your collegiette budget, here are a few wallet-friendly date ideas to keep the sparks flying.

1. Eat a picnic on the quad

An outdoor picnic is an inexpensive way to bond with your partner over some delicious food. Since everyone needs to eat and sharing a meal provides plenty of time to talk and catch up, a picnic is a smart idea. Just grab a cozy blanket, a decent-sized basket full of food and your sweetie for a fun afternoon.

Depending on what you decide to eat, the price of this date is up to you. It probably won’t cost you more than $10, unless you decide to add a bottle of wine to the mix.

To bond even more, team up to make the meal you’ll be eating at your picnic so you can spend extra time together. You might just learn something new about your partner’s eating habits or preferences while you’re getting everything prepared.

Try this date idea in September or October before it gets too chilly to enjoy a nice meal outside.

2. Host a movie night in your dorm or apartment

Watching a movie together is a classic date, but since movie nights at the theater usually cost a small fortune when combined with snacks and drinks, you can have your own movie night right on campus instead. Since you might have been used to having movie nights with your parents or sibs during the summer, it’ll be nice to curl up with your sweetie instead.

Not only is watching a movie at your own place more affordable, it’s also more comfortable and convenient. Plus, you can pause the movie if you need to for an impromptu makeout session! You can also make your own popcorn and drinks, which will definitely be much cheaper than the concession-stand prices.

As if you need any more reasons to have your own movie night, remember that you’ll be in a more intimate setting compared to being in a full theater with a bunch of other couples and families. This means that you can laugh as loud as you want or cry without being embarrassed, and if you want to lock lips, you can do so without guilt!

When deciding on a movie to watch, go for a comedy if it’s a new date to keep the mood lighthearted. For couples in long-term relationships, try a dramatic or romantic movie to amplify the atmosphere.

3. Take a stroll around campus or downtown

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of taking a nice walk outside in the crisp, cool fall air. This free, feel-good activity is an awesome way to have some small talk with your sweetie while enjoying your surroundings and some beautiful foliage. Even though being back to school may be a bittersweet reality, odds are you probably missed parts of the scenery around your campus.

Some college campuses have fitness trails with paved walkways so you can enjoy a leisurely stroll without having to navigate your own way. If you go to school in the city or at a school without walking trails, try taking a walk downtown and window-shop, or look up a state park that will have lots of nature to check out while you chat.

4. Indulge in froyo (with all the fixings!)

Satisfy your sweet tooth while spending time with your love over a cool, frozen treat. Froyo usually costs around $5, so you can treat yourself without much guilt.

You probably enjoyed froyo in the summer because of the hot weather, but now you can make going on a froyo run a study incentive when it comes to being back to school. When you’ve exhausted your flashcards and textbooks, text your crush and ask to take a froyo break together.

After you’ve swirled your favorite flavor and added only the best toppings, make sure you sit down together to enjoy some good conversation. Especially with a new partner, being able to talk together is essential so that you can get to know each other better and share what’s happening in your lives.

For dairy-free gals, look for dairy-free options at your local shop. Many froyo places offer sorbet options in addition to frozen yogurt so that everyone can enjoy something yummy!

5. Be bookworms together at a bookstore

For the bookworm couple, head over to your local bookstore for a satisfying night out. It’s nice when you and your partner connect physically and emotionally, but it’s a whole new feeling when you two can connect intellectually! Your fall semester schedule might not allow much free time for leisure reading, but purchasing a book or two isn’t a bad investment, and pleasure reading could prove to be the perfect fall break activity.

Find out if a nearby bookstore is having a book reading or an author meet and greet, which will be free and exciting. Otherwise, go on a book hunt together by exploring the shelves until you find something you both enjoy reading.

Take the romance up a notch by purchasing a book to share, and get excited to exchange thoughts and opinions about it once you’re both done reading it. This shouldn’t cost you more than $20, and the benefits of sharing a good book together will be long-lasting!

6. Get your mind working with a study date

Back to campus means back to studying (sigh), but hitting the books doesn’t have to be a punishment. Even non-exciting activities can be a little better when your sweetie is by your side. This also is a good date idea when you’re both swamped with work and can’t go on an off-campus date, yet you still want to be near each other.

It might be hard to focus on your notes when your crush is right in front of you, so don’t try this date right before finals! Instead, plan your study date on a day when you have a decent amount of work to do, but not so much that your stress will affect your attitude.

To help make studying more thrilling, make up little incentives for making progress. If you’re both reading textbooks, make a plan to have a mini makeout sesh after a certain number of pages (no, not after only two pages!) to keep yourself motivated. Do something similar if you’re reviewing notes or flashcards, except plan to have your sesh after a certain amount of time spent studying.

Another perk of having a study date is having someone to assist you when you’re studying for an exam. Flipping through flash cards on your own isn’t as exciting, so have your crush quiz you on the material. For every correct answer, reward yourself with a quick peck, and once you’ve answered all of the questions correctly, take a 15-minute break to get a coffee together. These flirty ideas will help you look forward to your studying sessions instead of dreading them!

7. Explore local museums

Looking for another educational yet inexpensive date option? Head to a local museum to learn something new and soak up some knowledge. Summertime meant taking a break from academics, but the start of fall semester means it’s time to get back into learning again. Going to museum can be a fun way to get back into the swing of things, and it’s even better with your love by your side.

A few options to explore include museums that display art, local history or world history. If you and your sweetie have something in common that you like to bond over, you can also look for a museum with exhibits and resources related to that topic.

Museums contain conversation starters everywhere you turn, so you won’t need to worry about not having anything to talk about.

The best part of this date idea is that many museums are either free or reasonably priced. You can also get a student discount at many museums, so make sure that you find out if you’re able to save by showing your student ID. Use a museum finder to explore potential options in your area.

Going on a date is a timeless and simple pleasure that’s worth the time. You don’t need to break your budget to have an awesome date night, so the next time your sweetie mentions it, go for it and test out one of these fun ideas!

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About The Author

Jen is currently a junior at Messiah College majoring in journalism and minoring in gender studies. During her junior year, she'll be off her own college campus, completing a semester at Temple University in the fall before heading to Arcadia University of London in the spring for an internship in magazine journalism. She's originally from Boston, and she's got a slight accent to prove it. When she isn't snapping Instagram pictures for her friends and family back home, obsessively pinning new recipes and crafts on Pinterest, or daydreaming about eating Pinkberry, she's usually writing. She thoroughly enjoys her work of writing articles for websites designed for entertaining and educating teens, college students and twenty somethings. She's been reading Her Campus since high school, and was thrilled to join the HC team in September 2013. In her limited free time, she loves to spend time with her best girl friends, give manicures to her campus friends, read magazines and watch chick flicks. When she occasionally watches television, she loves Gossip Girl and any quality tattoo show, although she's extremely biased towards Ink Master. You can follow her on Twitter @JenMorgan94 and "like" her Facebook media page at facebook.com/jenmorganmedia to keep up with all of her new articles and other media related updates.

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