The temperature has lowered, and the holidays are around the corner. The season for dating is here and the tab for your date’s bill is skyrocketing, leaving you with a full heart and an empty pocketbook. 

Say you and your date decided to go to your local steak house and you both ordered an 8-oz steak and two sides. After taking the prices of the two most visited steak houses in Tyler and averaging the price of a full dinner from both, the price for a full restaurant dinner ranges from $35-$40. On average, with that data, a student could spend $160 every month if they went out at least once a week.

Comparatively, the medium independent college student’s yearly income is around $13,880, according to collegeaffordability.urban.org. This means every month if working full time, a student is roughly making $1,156 before all bills and expenses. 

Going on dates could potentially become difficult for some, thus creating the need for more affordable date ideas. Below are a few affordable on-campus alternatives to take that special someone on a date. 

Visit the Tyler Museum of Art 

The Tyler Museum of Art has always been a hidden treasure not many students are aware of.  According to pcscarts.org, “Art inspires us and can move us emotionally and intellectually in a time of uncertainty, anxiety and stagnation.”

The Tyler Museum of Art provides individuals the opportunity to visit the facility and create a connection between the art and the person they’re with.

Executive Director Christopher M. Leahy explains the significance of viewing art in person. 

“You experience looking at great art in its context, not on a computer screen, not in a book,” Leahy said. “But the real thing, where you can take a look at it, and walk up to it and just marvel at how this jumble of paint and color creates a New York City rainy day winter scene.” 

The facility regularly interchanges its exhibits 12 times a year, with each exhibit remaining for two to three months.

 The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. It is free to TJC students with a valid TJC ID. 

Photo of the Vaughn Conservatory by Chris Swann

Picnic at Vaughn Conservatory 

The Bonna Bess Vaughn Conservatory, located directly adjacent from Rogers Student Center, provides a variety of date opportunities if you are a lover of plants, nature or anything green. When you enter the facility, you will often immediately divert your eyes to the albino catfish in the small aquarium located in the entrance. After standing a moment in awe, you’ll find the doorway to the conservatory in the hallway between two classrooms. Inside the conservatory is a variation of seating options as well as tables available. The tables and chairs within the facility provide students the opportunity to grab lunch and have a picnic.

Watch a live performance

Photo of the Jean Browne Theater by Marie Salazar

The variation of performance options on campus provides an opportunity for you and your date to delve into the fine arts at TJC. 

Upcoming performance events for theatre include, “Nevermore: the Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe.” This performance will be held at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 10.  The admission for students is free after providing a valid student ID. Approaching dance performances include “The Nutcracker.” This performance will be held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Dec. 4 and 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Dec. 5  at Rogers Palmer Preforming Arts Center.

Kristi Franks, professor of dance and instructor for TJC’s Dance Academy, discusses the experience a student can receive.  

“’The Nutcracker’ is such a special Christmas tradition, so if it’s something they haven’t seen before, it’s really special for them to just kind of see what ‘The Nutcracker’ is,” Franks said. “Also, I think they’ll be impressed at the level of quality that we’re able to provide in our Nutcracker.” 

Franks also mentioned students will receive a discount on ticket prices. Ticket prices for students will be announced closer to the performance date.  

Photo of the Earth and Science Space Center by Chris Swann

Catch a show at the Earth and Space Science Center

TJC’s Earth and Space Science Center is the perfect place to make a connection with that special someone among the stars. 

This facility provides a range of entertainment options for students to enjoy as an affordable date.  Shows include “Unveiling the Invisible Universe,” “Traveling with Light,” ”East Texas Sky – Live” and “Journey Through Space – Live.” The center also offers an interactive experience called “Velocity.” “Velocity helps children explore the science of motion and makes it fun to learn about basic physics concepts,” according to sciencecenter.tjc.edu. 

The Earth and Space Science Center is open to the public 9:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The entry cost for students is $1 with a valid student ID.