The perks, tips, advices and red flags of college life

My first college experience was a disaster, and I missed high school and the days of having everything done for you.

My very first day of school—on my very first day of college—I walked into the wrong class, got lost, spilled coffee on my shirt, and to top it all off got hit by a bike while walking down the street.

Things went downhill as the semester continued. I spent a shit-load of money on books, picked terrible classes, and completely ignored “the perks” that come with being a college student.

Now, I’ve pretty much got it down (though I am still working on the whole pedestrian-safety deal), and I’m ready to impart a bit of my knowledge.

The best thing a student can do to make things easier is to save money on school and waste money on fun. Deals on textbooks and academic discounts are everywhere. Here’s a primer.

Buy books, don’t let books buy you
Think about it: You buy a textbook for about 60 bucks (if it’s used, which seemingly requires more luck than winning a scratcher), and at the end of the semester you sell it back for 60 cents. I kid, yes, but bookstores usually don’t reimburse you for more than 50 percent of what you paid, so you’ll probably end up landing $25 at most for the book. And the cycle continues: The bookstore makes big profit by turning around and selling the book again to other students for seemingly more than you paid for it new, until an updated version of the textbook arrives (usually with a hefty price tag), whereupon you’ll be stuck with the proverbial “hot potato” book (i.e., a textbook that you can’t sell or get rid of).

In many cases, this textbook swindle is inevitable. You need the books, the books need you, and they’ve got the books. But they’re not the only ones with the books.

Trading books among friends and peers can result in sweet deals. I once traded an English book with my cousin (a book she couldn’t find anywhere), and in return got a complementary ride to R5 Records on Broadway and hooked up with a gift certificate for CDs. A friend of mine once traded a textbook for an elderly pug, which doesn’t sound like a deal, but evidently the dog was pretty good at linguistics.

One of the better cost-saving maneuvers is to rent your books on, where you can save up to 80 percent. At Chegg, the “Web site that challenges the textbook Goliaths,” you can rent books for a considerably cheap price, send it back or choose to keep it. Whenever you rent a book, Chegg even plants a tree.

Deals on stuff you never thought you could deal on
Your student ID is magical plastic.

At Lucky brand jeans, if you show your student ID, you get $25 off a pair of jeans. OK, that isn’t all that great, considering they run over $100.

When you purchase a Mac and an 8GB iPod Nano Touch, the folks at Apple will reimburse you what you paid for the iPod. (for those communications majors out there, that means the iPod’s free).

At Chipotle, you can get a free small soda with the purchase of one of their obese burritos. Original Pete’s on J Street in Midtown will give a generous 15 percent off of your meal. Deals can be found on the Los Rios Community College Web site (look under “Current Students” for the link) for anything from tattoos and piercings to aquarium supplies. Some local movie theaters have student discounts; call ahead first.

The very crafty—and kind of desperate—students in Davis have a lot of good tips on Baskin Robbins gives you a pint of ice cream if you give a pint of blood at Blood Source. They also even go as far as providing a map of free-for-all fruit trees in the Davis area. That cafeteria food gets boring fast.