college problems

To all my freshman babies who are panicking right now about how much your college textbooks cost: Yeah, you’re right, that’s some highway robbery. No, you don’t have to lie down and take it. You have options. Follow my advice and fly on your own debt free wings.

1. Forgoe the bookstore entirely. Sometimes you can get a good deal on something, usually a rental, but it’s usually going to be considerably more expensive to go through official channels. Outsmart them, babies.

2. Does your syllabus call for edition eight? Get edition seven. Old editions are considered worthless in the buyback trades, so they sell for dirt cheap, no matter how new they are. It’s a gamble, sure; there might be something in edition eight you desperately need, but that never happened to me. However, I’ve only ever pulled this stunt for literature/mass comm/religious studies books, so I don’t know it would work in the sciences.

3. Thriftbooks.com, especially for nonfiction and fiction. Books are usually four or five dollars unless they’re really new, and shipping is 99 cents unless you buy over 10$ in books, in which case shipping is free. 

4. Bigwords.com. It will scan every textbook seller on the internet for the lowest price available, and will do the same to find the highest price when you try to sell your books back at the end of term. Timesaver, lifesaver.

5. In all probability, your library offers a service called interlibrary loan which is included in your tuition. This means if your library doesn’t carry a book you can order it for free from any library nationwide in your library’s network and it will be shipped to you in a number of days. Ask a librarian to show you how to search for materials at your library as well as though interlibrary loan; you’ll need to master this skill soon anyway.  If you get lucky you can just have your required reading shipped to you a week before you need to start reading, then renew vigorously until you no longer need to item. I’m saving over 100$ on a History of Islam class this way.

You professors might side-eye you for bringing an old edition or a library copy, but you just smile right back honey, because you can pay your rent and go clubbing this month. You came here to win. So go forth and slay.

  • Me:Hello Dr. Professor Sir, I understand you are currently out of the country on a Very Important Research Trip but I have reached a stumbling block in my Big Official Paper for a Completely Legitimate Reason. I was hoping if you would maybe please possibly give me an Extension of Mercy on said Paper due to my Extenuating Circumstance, Academic Record, and Established Collegiate Relationship with you. Ever Your Obedient Servant, Firstname Lastname.
  • Professor:no prob. deuces, Brendan.
Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Entering University

These are based on my personal experience (and that of people I know directly). Learn from our mistakes, peeps! Life’s too short to keep on repeating mistakes you could have avoided and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make original ones of your own, I guarantee you.

1. Once you have the necessary basic courses done, take the harder courses within your first two years if possible - if you’re applying to grad school they’ll usually look at only the grades of the last two years. (In Canada, anyways - don’t take my word on that for other countries!)

2. If your university has multiple campuses, don’t assume courses are transferable just because the campus is part of the same university.  I know, it makes no sense, but most of the time they don’t actually transfer. Check with your advisor first.

3. Always get   everything  your advisor tells you in writing. That way if the information they gave you was wrong you have a way of proving the mistake was not on your end.

4. a) If you can, take a course during the Spring and one during the Summer semester. That way you can take one less class during the normal semester and make your life a bit easier. You usually end up with a week or two between semesters anyway, so it’s not like you’ll have no vacation whatsoever.

b) If you can, make it a class you know you’ll need to take at some point but you know you’re likely to struggle in/have more work assigned; that way you only have the one class to focus on and you can actually do well on it instead of barely scraping by.

c) Don’t take more than one class per semester in the spring/summer semesters. One a semester is more than manageable. Two is insanity, because they’re compressed courses.

5. Always save screenshots of any and all payments you make online, regardless of whether you get an email reciept. If it gets sent to the wrong place or there’s some internal error you’ll have a copy to show as proof of payment.

6. Do your best on the little assignments. They’re a great grade cushion for the big tests. If you go to a small university (or attend small classes), it will also show your professor that you’re a responsible student, so if you have a problem with handing in something on time in the future they’ll be more likely to be lenient and understanding.

7. Back up  everything. Always. Without fail. Don’t put it off for even a day.

8. Take opportunity of your resources. If your school has a writing centre,  use it. Even if you just want someone to help you get your essay planning in order, look over your final copy of a paper, or to look over the bibliography to make sure it’s ok.

9. If you have the books or readings before class starts, get ahead on notes and reading as much as possible. ‘Cause once the semester starts, ain’t nobody got time for that.

10. Start on your essays as soon as possible, even if it’s just choosing a topic and doing preliminary research. Later on in the semester when due dates and exams pile up it’ll save you a world of grief.

11. Don’t bother to make perfect citations as you write, but make sure you have a way of knowing where the citation came from. You never know what you’re gonna cut out in the end, so taking the time to make perfect citations as you write your essay is a waste of time; but you need to have some way of knowing where it came from so you’re not having to hunt it down later. I usually just use a keyword I know relates to a certain article (or even make a list of which keyword goes with what) and then go back in the end and make the citations.

12. As much as I hate doing them, essay planning actually helps. It saves on a lot of editing later. Dammit.