Fun on the cheap
Sit idly in your dorm room no longer! There's an abundance of inexpensive things to do in Colorado Springs.
By day: Head to Independent Records (123 E. Bijou St.) and sift through used CDs and DVDs, or better yet, sell your ancient collection. Refuel with Turkish coffee and a piece of baklava at Heart of Jerusalem Caf (15 E. Bijou St.).
By night: Head to Pikes Perk Coffee and Tea Caf (14 S. Tejon St.) or Rico's at Poor Richard's (322 N. Tejon St.) for coffee, tea or drinking chocolate (at Rico's). Then hit up Cheap Skate Night at Sertich Ice Center (1705 E. Pikes Peak Ave.) on Saturdays from 7:30 to 9. Admission and skates will cost you only $3.50.
By day: Climb Barr Trail (Start at the Cog Railway, 515 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs) up to Barr Camp, or go play with (and maybe adopt!) the animals at the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (610 Abbott Lane).
By night: Gather all of your change for Skee-ballin' at the historic Penny Arcade (930 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs). Then sip tea at the Mat Factor (966 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs) or inhale tobacco at Hooked on Hookah (124 E. Cheyenne Road).
By day: If you're an El Paso County resident, East Library (5550 N. Union Blvd.) is a treasure trove of DVDs, CDs and books. (Other libraries offer plenty of choice, too, but East's selection is best.) Or putt at Hitt's Miniature Golf (3402 N. Academy Blvd.), which is just $2 for 18 holes.
By night: Go see a movie at Picture Show (901 N. Academy Blvd.) for $1.50. Or bowl at Classic Bowl (1867 N. Circle Drive) it's $2 per game, plus $2 for shoes.
By day: Head to Borders at Chapel Hills Mall (1710 Briargate Blvd.). Sit in the caf and read whatever expensive tome you can't afford before heading to La Baguette (1420 Kelly Johnson Blvd.) for a croissant.
By night: Play disc golf at the course in Cottonwood Creek Park (7040 Rangewood Drive) until it's too dark to see. Follow up with delicious soft-serve from BJ's Velvet Freez (1511 N. Union Blvd.).
Extra credit: Free parks and trails are littered across the city, and you can catch music somewhere every night. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (Main) offers occasional free admission days. Also, admission to the Pioneers Museum, the American Numismatic Association Money Museum, Van Briggle Pottery, the United States Olympic Complex and Focus on the Family, which you really should see once, is free.
Dcor for the poor
Some tips for furnishing your apartment or dorm on a dime:
Don't be ashamed to sleep on an air mattress! It's cheaper than those newfangled spring-loaded things, and low-lying beds ensure you won't risk spinal damage falling from the heights of a full-fledged bed.
It's only trespassing if it's on private property, so (public) Dumpster-dive away. If people accidentally toss expensive orthodontia, wedding rings and flatware, imagine the furniture they chuck in the trash!
Think creatively. Why spend 40 dollars on pretentious Nepalese prayer flags when you can string old scarves from the ceiling for free? Likewise, cut up old magazines and make a collage, instead of spending 20 bucks on that Scarface poster that everyone and his Mom owns.
Chop a cereal box in half diagonally, and you have two new folios for your papers and folders complete with General Mills characters on the sides!
Milk crates are ubiquitous and cheap. Look for them at dollar stores, or ask if a local grocery store has any to spare. Stack and make crate bookshelves or an entertainment center, or find a stud and hang one on the wall for shelving.
Find yards of fabric at thrift stores, cut up old T-shirts, or fashion bedsheets into curtains. For the unskilled, this involves draping cloth over a rod; for the mechanically inclined, five minutes with a sewing machine should do the trick.
Getting grub, gratis
After three years of college, I've learned a few things about free food. For one, it's everywhere. And most of it is pizza.
I've also learned that to continually access free food, you must be versatile. For example, if you attend a catered discussion with the economics department, you might find yourself BS-ing about agricultural subsidies. If you go to a German cakes and conversation social, you may have to speak some German. (Learn to say, "Sorry, my throat hurts. I just came to listen today.")
Through the years, I've crashed many a function and gobbled my way into satisfied infamy. So here, I'm happy to present a few outlets for intake.
Visiting lecturers, professors or alumni: Sometimes colleges are hard up to get students to a lecture in the middle of the day. The lure is lunch.
Majors social: You may not be an anthropology major, but they don't know that.
Senior psychology studies: On most campuses, these almost-alumni are desperate. Gift certificates, lunch and hard cash may be offered to those willing to answer strange, sometimes personal, questions for 30 minutes.
International food nights: Unlike most mediocre free meals, these are divine; the line usually runs out the door.
Eat at a professor's house: Talk to upperclassmen and register for classes with generous professors. Then be charming.
Out and about
First Fridays: You're supposed to be downtown (or in Old Colorado City) for the art so look sharp. Expect cheese, crackers, nuts and fruit. Don't hover near the food spread; load your plate and take in the exhibit.
Upscale market tour: Saturdays are notorious for samples at many fine grocery marts, like Par Avion Foods (1872 Southgate Road), Garden of the Gods Gourmet (2528 W. Cucharras St.) and Whole Foods (7635 N. Academy Blvd.).
Dress-up days: The challenge here is not getting the scraps of tinfoil on your head to resemble a burrito, or leaving your new udders exposed; it's enduring the hour-plus wait around the building on those special days of the year at Chipotle or Chick-fil-A.
Political campaigns: Think not what you can do for your party, but what your party can do for you. Hell, if you're a Democrat, go to a Republican meeting and punish that spread.
Mandy Moench, with Matthew Schniper
Thrift stores and college students go together like ramen and oriental seasoning. Unlike vintage boutiques, thrift stores feature the same awesomely old wares at lower prices. Here is a survey of area re-retailers, which should jump-start any shopping expedition.
*ARC Thrift Stores
Clothing is organized by size, meaning no tiresome rummaging. Everything is half-off on Saturday. Large selections of furniture and household goods promise a completely outfitted dorm room or apartment. The Austin Bluffs location is five minutes away from UCCS.
4402 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., 522-1203
1830 W. Uintah St., 473-0502
2780 S. Academy Blvd., 391-7717
Bargain Box of Assistance League
Household goods and clothing are abundant. Special sales (such as the recent "dollar-an-item" clothing sale) are frequent.
211 E. Costilla St., 475-1029
*Disabled American Veterans Thrift Store
Every weekend is discounted (50 percent off) at this downtown store. Watch for other sales such as the 99-cent orange-tag sale. "Lamps, socks, clothing, bowls ... we basically have everything," says a chirpy cashier.
2444 E. Platte Ave., 636-2537
Clothing is maddeningly organized by color (not size) here, but there are many locations, including one on Pikes Peak Avenue that's within walking distance of CC. Be sure to check out the extensive selection of books.
Multiple locations, 635-4483
The brand-name clothing here looks as if it was just purchased from the mall, but it's half the price. If you aren't prone to slopping food all over yourself, Plato's Closet will pay you for gently used brand-name duds.
925 N. Academy Blvd., 622-8933
Price Is Right Thrift Store
Furniture, electronics, clothing and Bob Barker (har, har) all await you at this mid-town location. When asked about sale days, the cashier I talked to said, "Oh, we don't do those."
593 N. Murray Blvd., 597-5354
Rummage and Treasures
Things are a little more knick-knacky here beware, there are Beanie Babies but there's good costume jewelry and clothing. On Thursdays, prices are 25 percent off, and there are regular special sale days.
1839 N. Circle Drive, 633-0099
*The Salvation Army
The one on Platte Avenue is another conveniently located potential furniture provider. Everything is 50 percent off on the third Saturday of the month. CSU-Pueblo students, check satruck.org for locations near you.
2730 E. Platte Ave., 634-5506
2222 W. Colorado Ave., 635-1573
501 S. Weber St., 473-6161
A hand up
By Mandy Moench Few college students go through four-plus years without working. On one extreme, you have those who take college classes while holding down a full-time job. On the other, you have those who take a gig, perhaps even unpaid, only for the rsum perk. Most fall somewhere in the murky middle.
And for college students, there's a jungle of employers. Who do you pick?
Geoff Falen, director of the Colorado College Career Center, suggests that getting a job on campus will maximize study time and minimize commuting, plus offer skill-building and networking opportunities. And Ally Pebbens, a work-study student at Pikes Peak Community College, offers similar counsel.
"You get to know instructors and administrators," she says. "It can be very useful if you have a problem with paperwork or something."
CC student Eleni Bucuvalas has also chosen to work on campus. She puts in about 10 hours per week at the front desk in the student center. In the summer, she toils as a psychology research assistant and rat colony keeper, which involves some grunt work plus data entry and analysis. In return for 20 hours a week, she gets a $3,000 grant and a head start on her thesis research.
Which brings us to the next issue pay.
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs reports that its students make up to $18 per hour usually for specialized tech jobs or as little as $7.02, the minimum wage for Colorado. The minimum for PPCC is only slightly higher, at $7.25.
So it's true that most students could make a lot more money babysitting, waiting tables or answering phones somewhere else. But beware the free market's demand for this kind of labor, especially in today's economic climate.
Falen warns that getting sucked into working, say, 30 hours per week could compromise the social element of a full-time student's college experience, limiting participation in intramural sports, educational seminars and cultural events. He has also seen the work/academia conundrum jeopardize academic performance.
"I would try very, very hard to make sure they have budgeted carefully," he says.
Some of the best on-campus options: admissions fellow, front-desk receptionist, intramural referee/supervisor, departmental research assistant.
Some of the worst: recycling sorter, food service worker, book-shelver.
Worst job, best pay: Resident adviser.
Best job, worst pay: Writing center tutor.
More shocking than encountering your roommate nude: Your nuker, cooking healthy meals. Come winter break, you can thank your microwave for staving off scurvy (and maybe even the freshman 15) with these easy, cheap micro-meals:
Baked potatoes: Add cheese, broccoli, beans and/or salsa.
Scrambled eggs: Add bell peppers, frozen or fresh spinach, mushrooms, jalapeos, tomatoes and/or cheese for an omelet.
Vegetable curry: Steam broccoli, carrots and mushrooms, then add curry and tomato paste. Supplement with canned chickpeas.
Oatmeal: Add peanut butter, bananas, apples, yogurt and/or a handful of almonds.
Edamame: Steam frozen soybeans, add salt and pepper to taste.
Deluxe ramen: Add egg, peanut butter, soy sauce and curry powder for a more nutrient-packed version of the collegiate staple.
Desserts: Heat apple slices, sprinkle with honey and cinnamon, then top with a spoonful of yogurt. Or mash a banana, add chocolate chips and/or peanut butter, heat and sprinkle with cinnamon and honey.