Getting through week one

Vanessa Barajas

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You’re crunching the numbers on textbook prices anywhere you can find them, frantically rearranging school and work schedules all while you watch the numbers in your bank account steadily decrease. Can you relate to this?

If you can, chances are you’re a student who’s probably working two jobs to pay the phone bill, fill the gas tank and keep yourself fed. You’re not alone, so keep your eyes moving down the page.

First, you need your textbooks. There’s no getting around that one. Don’t ever assume the text won’t be available. Look it up! Shop around online and find something that works for you. Don’t back yourself into a corner and end up being forced to buy the books from the never-ending line at the campus bookstore.

Beginning as the co-store manager, Amy Berger has worked at the Matador Bookstore for 18 years and has been the Bookstore Director of 12 years now. “We try to keep the [line] wait time under 10 to 15 minutes,” writes Berger in an email. “But I have seen it exceed that during the lunch hour on the first day or two of school.”

Student Maggie Guzman says she doesn’t experience any trouble when she goes to the campus because she buys her books online. “I use Amazon or Chegg to get my textbooks,” she says. “I try to come [to the bookstore] when other students have classes. The longest I waited in line was thirty minutes.”

“I always recommend that students visit the bookstore the week before school starts,” writes Berger. “There are more used books available, the lines are much shorter and there are more associates available to help. We are also open both Saturday and Sunday before school starts.”

You can even start with the popular names. You’d be surprised how many big name bookstores rent and sell textbooks for brow-raising prices. If the rental ends one week too soon, send a courteous email asking for an extension on your rental because you just never know. Also, always check to see if assigned reading materials for some literature classes are available to read online.

Scheduling can be tricky. Cal State Northridge is largely a commuter campus where the majority of students take on the daily drive to and from school each week. Only five years ago, over 70 percent of students commuted to campus according to a December 2010 Commuting Practices at CSUN report. Looking around now, those numbers probably haven’t changed very much.

It’s understood that we’re all busy and need to be somewhere all of the time, but don’t use that as an excuse. Work with your peers, professors and co-workers to figure out a game plan. You’ll find that you’re more likely to be helped when you make it known that you’re making an effort to do so.

There most likely won’t be a chance for you to walk into your class and say something witty to your professor after which the two of you become the figurative Chang and Eng. Avoid going straight to flattery as there are several respectable professors who don’t respond well to sycophants. The best advice here is to do the work, get assignments in on time and pay attention to your professor’s pet peeves.

Parking is never a fun experience no matter where you are. However, at CSUN it is exceptionally unpleasant to endure during the first two weeks of a new semester. The only thing asked of you to make the experience bearable is to follow the guidelines. These parking rules will never change: get to campus early, make sure you have your parking pass or temporary and pay attention to all signage!

Now, food hasn’t been left last on the priority list because it’s not considered important. It is. However, how many of you have skipped a meal because you needed it to fill the gas tank and make it home? Now there aren’t very many ways to save on food except to be smart about how you eat. If you happen to be in a rush in the morning, grab a smoothie because they’re filling and healthy.

The first week is a rough one but if you can get through it, the rest of the semester will feel like a breeze.