New student like-a-boss survival guide

How to make this semester your bitch

Tia Kutschera Fox // Opinions Editor

Hello there! Is this your first semester at Capilano University? Welcome to being a university student! This means welcome to paying a lot of money to write excruciating papers and drive your health into the ground as you attempt to survive balancing school, work, life and sleep (just kidding, there isn’t any sleep). But, being a student does come with perks; you just have to know where to find them. This guide will show you how to save and make money, write a decent paper and just generally get through the semester like a boss.


In case you haven’t yet realized, university is a totally different ball game from high school. You aren’t in Kansas anymore and you’re going to need some tools to survive the workload. First, get a planner. It can be as fancy or as basic as you want – the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) Members’ Centre has free planners, so there are no excuses not to have one. Second, use your planner. What a concept, right? Write down your courses and plan your assignments. Yes, you’ll need to do that. Also, you’re going to forget when your classes are, so a pro-tip: take a screenshot of your course schedule and use it as your phone background. You’re welcome.

It’s also important to have a plan when it comes to your courses, especially when you’re paying thousands of dollars in tuition. Many a student has wasted precious time and money taking courses they didn’t have to take because they didn’t check their program first. You can go to the Academic Advising office – second floor of the Birch building – for a 30-minute drop-in planning session with one of the advisors.

This is highly recommended to ensure you don’t take classes you don’t need, or skip classes that are required for graduation. This will prevent you from wasting time and money that could be better spent on delicious burrito bowls. That said, it is also a good idea to con rm your course plan with the head of your program. While academic advisors are a great resource, they have a lot on their plate and occasionally have outdated information.


The broke university student stereotype is there for a reason, so here’s one easy rule to save money: always ask about student discounts. Seriously, there are countless businesses that offer discounts to students with valid ID. While Science World, the Aquarium and Amazon Prime openly advertise this, other businesses are a little quieter, so squeeze the most out of student-hood and ask. Another discount optimizer is the SPC card. Available at the CapU Bookstore for $10, the SPC card allows you to get 10-15 per cent discounts on products from tons of different stores from food to clothing, even Greyhound bus trips.

Buying books is also expensive, so consider the CSU Used Book Sale at the beginning of the semester. You can also buy e-books at a fraction of the price for physical books. Don’t forget that you can resell your textbooks at the end of the semester to make some of your dough back.

At CapU there is a ridiculously easy way to make hundreds, even thousands, of dollars and countless new students miss out on it every year. Here is the process:

1. Go to and click on MyCap.

2. Click on Student Information Web Service, log in.

3. Click on Financial Aid and Awards.

4. Click on Apply for Scholarships, Bursaries, Awards, and Fee Deferrals.

5. Fill out a form that takes two minutes to complete.

Voila, you are now automatically considered for hundreds of different scholarships without having to write a single essay.


When it comes to attending your classes and writing papers well, there are some key steps to success. Number one: unless you are a morning person or extremely disciplined do not take 8:30 a.m. classes if possible. You’re not getting the most out of your education if you’re skipping or sleeping through half of your classes. Number two: don’t feel pressured to take more courses just because Wonder Wendy over there is taking six and auditing another, while working two part-time jobs. It’s much better to pass four classes than fail five because of a nervous breakdown.

Once you have your classes, be sure to be on good terms with your professors. You don’t have to be teacher’s pet, but as one fourth year student pointed out, “These are the people you hope will write your references, give you advice and give you an extension… and one day the prof you built a relationship with might be the one to pick up the phone and get you a job in the industry.” This includes going to your professors’ office hours. Not only do professors tend to be more lenient on students who actively show they are trying, it’s much easier to get an A on a paper when the person marking it helped you write it.

If you’re interested in getting A’s, look at free organizing software like Zotero and Citavi. Zotero helps organize citations and Citavi helps organize your notes saving hours of time and making writing great papers a snap.

Don’t hesitate to ask librarians, they’re magical people who are basically walking fountains of priceless knowledge.

Another pro-tip: proofread, proofread, proofread. Then give your paper to someone else to proofread before handing it in.

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