You’re enrolled in an online school, and you’re worried you’ll never get the “real college experience” because you’re going to be at your computer a lot during your days off from the movie theater snack counter and the pet store. Don’t worry, we got ya buddy. For all the educational, inspirational and crazy experiences that make up a rich and fulfilling college life, there’s an online equivalent. Sort of. Throw your e-swimming trunks in the Hyundai, we’re off to get you an online life.
Classes – That’s the easy part. Moving on.
Student bookstore – Without a college campus, you’re going to have to get your books from some other non-franchise, independent, student-run, disorganized and poorly stocked book seller. Powell’s Books isn’t necessarily the last two, but its grad-student roots and lack of involvement by The Man help its cause. The Book Beat is another option, complete with foam rubber stress-hotdogs. Finally.
Student union – Your online school might have its own place for student discussion and fruitless, tongue-lolling slouching, but in case it doesn’t, there are about a million student web forums where all of that is going on. Try this list of student-friendly forums, ranging from subject-oriented to almost entirely subjectless.
Crazy huge library – You can’t sneak a girl into it late at night, but at least you can read library books for free at TheFreeLibrary.com, which offers full-text literary works as well as periodicals, biographies, quotes and a host of other student research tools. If that’s not enough, our own free book search engine will locate the scholarly texts you’re looking for.
Favorite coffee shop – Find your crowd by landing in the right coffee shop. Are you a nerd? Hotwire Online Coffeehouse is a cybercafé that sells its beans online for you to drink at home. Cowpoke? Wild Rose Coffee specializes in the southwest. Badass/coffee purist/sociology major? Murky Coffee is your cup o’ slag, recently being in the press after getting into a scuffle with a customer over the right way to drink coffee. No messing around there.
Independent record store – Don’t lose your last seven dollars in a soulless, blood-sucking chain record store. Give it to the little guy instead. MusicStack sells CDs and vinyl, including imports and rarities, from thousands of independent online record stores. Memory Lane Records specializes in out-of-print gems. Now make your desktop all psychedelic!
Free gym – Even though it’s 2008, you still can’t actually physically work out online. But you can exercise your brain with the wide array of brain teasers at BrainDen.com, featuring optical illusions, word puzzles and conundrums for you to strain yourself over. PsychTests.com also includes strange quizzes and trivia. Need a spotter, man?
Frat/sorority house – Want to go crazy and break some school policies? Go for it at Theta Nu Tai, the Myspace online coed fraternity. Chat with your buds about parties, buy Greek gear, or go teepee ACAP, the Facebook online fraternity.
Buddy’s pad – Since you can’t pass out on someone else’s couch in your own house, go to Bob’s House, a subdivision of I-Am-Bored.com, where you can check out the latest cool Web discoveries. Or hang out with Tucker Max, who always has a lot of friends over – though he’s kind of an asshole, so you might get smacked around a little.
The river/lake – Even if you’re in your slippers and Spidey pajama bottoms, you can still go tubing with the guys. Go Tubin’ on Lake Tyler, and be pulled behind a motorboat as you avoid obstacles and jump off ramps. Being drunk obviously makes it more fun.
College bars – It’s disappointing that you can’t yet click a button and become intoxicated, but if you have some brewskies of your own, you can still engage in college bar games like air hockey and pool while you check out babes. Better make sure you’re not married first.
Bush jumping – You can’t end a night of hard college partying without jumping into something that has chlorophyll and foliage. Lacking actual bushes online, you can still order yourself a bonsai, grow it tenderly on your windowsill, then ambush the sucker when it gets big enough. Now you can go back to class feeling like a real college student (read: jackass).