When young men and women go off to college, they often have to say goodbye to the great love of their lives. No, I don’t mean their high school sweethearts. I’m speaking about television.
TV has become so ubiquitous that we only really notice it when it’s gone. Sure, there’s the internet for news, sports and streaming viewing, but it’s just not the same experience as being able to sit in front of a large screen TV loaded with cable channels, DVR and an awesome sound system.
If you’re living in a college dorm this fall, you’ll be lucky if you’re able to bring a TV into a room that you’re sharing with one or two other people who might have their own ideas about what they want in their living space. Unless you’re one of the lucky few with a private room, you may not able to fully enjoy the comforts that you once had.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid being bored in your dorm room and some alternatives to having cable TV. In theory, there should be plenty of things at college that can hold your interest and help you survive without a television. But if you still want to enjoy the TV experience while you’re living in a dormitory then this list is for you.
1. Over the Air Antenna
Sounds simple enough, right? People have been doing this for decades. Even your great-grandmother’s does this with those old rabbit-ear antenna. You can, too. But instead you need one for an HDTV, assuming you live in the 21st century. Just hook it up, and try to tune into your favorite channels. It’ll be hit or miss, since it depends on the proximity of the station’s tower to your location and other factors like how thick the drywall is in your dorm, but it sure beats paying the cable bill.
2. Streaming Services Are Your Friend
With the right smartphone or tablet, you may not even need a TV. Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime can keep you up to date with most of the new shows on cable and broadcast networks. As long as you’re willing to pay for the content, you can get it on the device of your choosing.
If your parents or someone else you know is willing to share, you may even be able to access HBO Go, Showtime Anytime and other premium network streaming services, which means that you can catch new episodes of shows like “Game of Thrones” or “Homeland” on the day they premiere. Just don’t try it immediately on Sunday nights, as that tends to crash HBO Go.
3. The Communal Television
Most college dorms have at least one or two lounges with large screen TVs that are actually hooked up to cable. Needless to say, these rooms are rarely empty. If you want to fully take advantage of these assets then you have to be a few steps ahead of your fellow students.
For starters, if you want to watch a program at 8pm, show up at least an hour beforehand so you can claim the TV. If somebody is there ahead of you, politely ask if you can watch something after they are finished and they will usually say yes. Just like that, you can control the TV room.
Now, other students may notice that you’re always in the TV room at certain times and get pissed. The way around that is to make the experience work for them too. If the dormitory allows food and drinks in the TV room, bring enough to share with the people who watch TV with you. And sometimes, you’re just gonna have to let someone watch something else.
Basically, don’t be a dick about it.
4. Bar Me!
If you love sports, the local bars are often the best places to go to watch live football, baseball, basketball and hockey games. Big screen TVs, like-minded fans and lots of beer definitely go a long way towards making it a fun afternoon or evening.
Even if you’re not into sports, some bars have started running TV viewing parties. For example, “Game of Thrones” parties are now hosted at bars across the country and it’s not the only show to inspire those. If the show you love has a really passionate fandom, chances are good that you can find a bar that shows it every week.
But if you’re in a particularly small college town, there’s no guarantee that the few bars there will doing the TV viewing parties. Still, it’s worth a shot.
5. Be Social
Some people make friends easily. Others may find it more difficult to connect with other people.
But if you share a common passion with someone, it’s a great way to break the ice and regain some of the things that dorm life has denied you. If there’s no bar that’s hosting a viewing party of your favorite TV show, start one of your own. You just need a location or a very good friend off-campus who is eager to invite people into his or her home.
Who knows? Maybe the people you meet will be your new roommates when you finally escape from dorm life.