Having a UF student ID — regardless of how hideous the picture on it from Preview is — comes with a few perks. The benefits are money-saving, time-saving and all around your ticket to making life in Gainesville just a tad easier.
1. Drink specials
You will undoubtedly rack up a huge tab over the span of your time at UF — let alone in one night at a relatively decent bar, club or restaurant. There are certain magical days that boast discounts for drinks to college students. This will probably be advertised in the form of “Student Night,” “College Night” or “Young People Rock Night.” OK, that last one was a stretch, but the first two will let you know that you can finally get your drinks at a discount — whether it’s BOGO or half off — just for being a student.
2. Free Regional Transit System bus rides.
Gainesville can easily seem like it is totally dominated by the university, but eventually, you will want to venture outside the brick walls. Those big blue RTS buses are free when you show your Gator 1 Card. And parking around Gainesville and on campus, in general, is so limited that it is infuriating.
3. Free Lake Wauburg access
Among the parks, bike trails and swimming pools near UF, there’s the UF-owned gem that is Lake Wauburg. Present your Gator 1 Card, and you and your car of people — assuming you didn’t clown-car-pack everyone in — can use the facilities. You can lay out on one of the chairs, dip your toes in the slightly murky waters, swan dive off the dock, rent a kayak, explore every inch of the lake, paddleboard and so much more.
4. Discounted movie tickets
OK, this is a general student thing, but the discounted student tickets at the local movie theaters are actually pretty decent. Take your Gator 1 Card to get on the RTS bus — don’t forget the free part — and a discounted student ticket will provide you with not a bad way to spend an evening away from campus.
5. Cheap game day tickets
If you didn’t know already, gamedays at UF are no joke. Football is an obvious first thought when the term “gameday” arises, but having a Gator 1 Card will also give you access to basketball games, gymnastics meets and other sports events at UF. Not only does being a student at UF allow you to enter the football ticket lottery — if you didn’t do it this year, it is well worth it next year — but if you win, it guarantees a seat at every home game, provided you pick up the tickets. Even if you didn’t enter or win the lottery, unclaimed tickets are $15 a pop and are only for UF students. Those other sports? Free for UF students. The Gators are good at sports. Seats will fill quickly.
6. Gator Nights
Gator Nights may not seem like the most happening way to spend a Friday night, but when you don’t know where to go and are confined to campus, then free movies, popcorn and game booths at the Reitz Union aren’t so bad. This especially holds true on those nights with free improv from Theatre Strike Force, pancakes and crafts. It’s a great way to meet new people and have some free fun. Just don’t forget that Gator 1 Card.
This story originally ran on page 29 on 8/14/2013 under the headline "The perks of being a student"