College Pro Tips- Buying Books

Pro Tip- Wait to buy books. If you don’t need to buy them, save the money.

Before the semester starts, the school bookstore is going to put out a list of books you will “probably” need for the semester. The reason is say “probably” is because, although most books will be labeled as required, many times they are not.  This brings me to my first point: wait to buy books until you meet in class for the first time. You will probably have a required book for most classes, but when you get to class on the first day, many times, the professor has a different book then is listed or provides a cheaper option than the bookstore offers.

Next, after going to class and finding what books are required, look online for a cheaper option. Amazon or eBay have used versions of most books for sale. Also, many of the newer more expensive books, have e-book versions for around half the price.  Next, search the school’s library and surrounding school’s libraries for your books. Although less likely, you can find books that you can rent through the library for free. The only stipulation is that you will need to renew this book a few times throughout the semester, which is important to avoid any late fees. Lastly, search the book title in Google and cross your fingers. This is one of the less likely ways to find your books for free, but it has worked for me. Most times, the books are PDF’s, published as an older version. Be sure to ask the professor before trying to use any outdated versions of your required texts, sometimes homework questions are changed from version to version, and this can be problematic if homework is assigned from the newer text.

If funds are short, you can always just not buy the books or wait until you are assigned an assignment or homework directly from them. Although this method is highly risky, it has worked for me multiple times. There is always one class that requires a textbook for “reading” purposes only. These books theoretically can be skipped, IF and only IF, you can supplement this book with class notetaking and professor provided PowerPoint slides. Depending on your learning style, this can be difficult to accomplish, so be cautious and prepared to buy the book if you feel you are underperforming.

Pro Tip: Don’t buy books if you don’t need too. Save the money.


College Pro Tips- Photoshop

Pro Tip- Take Photoshop during your college career.

Every college that claims to provide a half decent education should offer an intro to Photoshop course. If they don’t, then I would transfer. Seriously. Photoshop experience is huge for resume building in many areas of employment and, in result, is becoming an opportunity to stand out from your competition when entering the job market. Obviously, Photoshop is more important for majors such as communication, business (all areas), education, sport management, digital media, and PR. These areas of the job market are looking for mildly experienced Photoshop candidates, since digital abilities are becoming of greater need in our internet age. It is important to note that, although employers in the field are looking for this experience, most programs do not include Photoshop as a core class. You will need to look to take this class as a general elective in most cases, but don’t worry, most general electives have no real-world implications and are much more difficult than Photoshop 101. This means that choosing Photoshop as a general elective should be of top priority. Outside of school, Photoshop experience will also help you when looking to promote yourself or looking to open your own business. Many times, Photoshop specialists that design logos or personal business cards charge premiums for their work, which in actuality, are fairly easy to complete in Photoshop with minimal experience on your own.

Even if you don’t end up needed to use Photoshop in your professional life, the class offers a break from whatever major you have been grinding away at. Exploring art is beneficial to sparking creativity and has been linked to improvements in other areas of schooling because of this enhancement of creative thought. Also, as you are probably thinking, these Photoshop classes are usually easy A’s, which is true 90% of the time if you show up and attempt to do the work. This is great for improving or boosting your GPA. Lastly, art classes come with fun rewards like having little homework, laid back professors, invites to art shows, free off campus art events, and the ability to edit all those photos from last weekend’s night out.

Pro Tip: Seriously, between the resume building implications, GPA boosting, no homework, free art event opportunities, why would you not take a Photoshop course? In my experience, the classes are straight forward and carry benefits of Photoshop experience that will only help your efforts of getting a job upon graduation. This is huge, since, as you need to remember, is the real reason you are spending all this money to attend college in the first place.

College Pro Tips- Become a “Tutor”

Pro Tip: Become a tutor of your own ability. (Unless you can become a paid tutor, do that as well, since late night food habits are expensive on a college budget.)

To be a “tutor” means to helps others achieve understanding, and I was fortunate enough to be paid for it. I became an English & Writing Skills Tutor in the first semester of my sophomore year at St. John Fisher College. I had only just started my second year of college, nevertheless, I was selected to tutor my fellow classmates in all grade levels and class difficulties. At first this seemed like a daunting task, but I quickly learned the important role tutoring was going to play in my life. Not only was I helping my fellow classmates achieve greatness, but I learned far more than the average college student. I gained priceless knowledge on how to communicate with and understand individuals from all walks of life. This has helped me to succeed in my professional life, as communication and customer understanding is key when working any professional position. Throughout my time as a tutor, I was able to build lasting relationships with many of the students that came to me for tutoring. Since then, these relationships have built into valuable friendships and business partnerships today. I am truly grateful for the opportunity I was given, and encourage all students to reach out and become a helping hand for their fellow students.

Pro Tip: Whether it be helping with a simple math problem, or how to write an introduction, everyone has areas of study they are masters in (tutors in) and need to share these skills with the community. Through these acts of selflessness, you will build relationships that will last you a lifetime and learn more about your own ability than ever before. To repeat myself, to be a “tutor” means to helps others achieve understanding, it doesn’t mean you must sit behind a desk and be paid for it. So, I now challenge you, enter each day with the thought of helping others. Become a tutor of your own abilities, and watch as acts selflessness turn into long-term value.