Classes for the Masses

By Simon Weedn

Posted August 15, 2013 in Feature Story

(WEB)coverstoryHere’s all you need to get through one . . . more . . . year.

As summer begins to wind its way down one of life’s many eventualities begins to draw closer for many residents of the Inland Empire, the return to school. Lucky for all of you, we here at the Weekly have your back. We’ve reached out far and wide to some of your fellow classmates to help us make sure that all you students out there know exactly what to have and where to go to make your scholarly pursuits and extra-curricular activities as comfortable, fun and painless as possible. Whether it’s knowing where to pick up decent furniture and clothes on the cheap, or what and where to eat, meet or greet, the Weekly has got all your bases covered.

The Dorms

Something that most people forget about while at college is how important sleep is. For me, buying a foam mattress pad was essential to getting a great night’s sleep! Since I don’t sleep enough at school anyway, it’s really important for me to have the best possible sleep I can have, and a mattress pad makes dorm mattresses much more comfortable.”  -Aleina Wachtel

They can be tiny, they can be cramped, and they can be sterile and unwelcoming. However, with a little imagination and the proper planning, they can become home! The first step to vibing out your new pad is to realize that maximizing space is key. Many of our student consultants agreed that stackable and easily hideable shelves and drawers are a key investment. Large department stores like Target, Bed, Bath, & Beyond and IKEA are the most common and easy locations to acquire these items. The department stores are also good for an item that at least one of our consultants thought was a desired amenity, a foam mattress pad. For our students on a tighter budget, the real spots to go find some cheap furnishings are over at thrift stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill. Additionally, thrift stores are great sources of funky artwork that will cover up the stark white walls of your dorm and add even more eye catching flavor to your pad. Lastly, there’s no shame in asking anybody who might be moving out if they’re trying to get rid of anything. It might be that they’re about to toss out that one thing that would really tie the room together, perhaps a rug?


Smart phone and a lightweight laptop. If you’ve got those, you’re set.” -Jazz Ponce

The next step to streamlining your college experience is making sure you have the right technology to get your work done. All of our student consultants agreed that a laptop was key for survival. They’re portable, easy to cart around, and don’t take up much space back in your cozy casa. They can also be a bit pricy, however, looking on the refurbished section of the Apple website, or heading down to big box retailers like Best Buy or Fry’s Electronics might be able to help you find a computer that suits both your needs and your bank account. Additionally, most of our student representatives agreed that smart phones were another need of the modern college student. Again, smart phones can really put some strain on your wallet, however, many of the big communications providers (AT&T, Verizon, etc . . .) offer pretty decent deals for people signing up for their services and many of their websites also have re-furbished sections where previously used phones are sold at big discounts.


See if your college has an ASI (Associated Students, Inc.) office. There, they offer movie tickets, theme park tickets and show tickets. They are all super cheap and I’ve saved about $300 this year alone by buying tickets at the ASI office. It is the greatest hidden secret at my campus.” -Chelsea Galvez

When it comes to entertainment for students, “the more bang for the buck, the better” is usually the rule. At the moment, the consensus seems to be that a Netflix subscription is one of best entertainment investments a student can make. Another thing that students often forget is that many colleges make a true effort in bringing interesting artists, scholars and events to their campuses. Taking the time to pick up the Weekly, or your college paper or keeping an eye on bulletin boards around can keep you hip to these on campus events which are generally free for students. Local coffee shops and art galleries also often provide excellent sources of local culture and arts with open mics and art exhibitions. Attendance and participation in these can lead to an array of cost effective experiences which may both entertain and enlighten, and allow you to make some new friends in the process.

Text Books

“OMG! Use There you are able to see what Chegg, Bookrenter, your campus book store and Amazon are selling your book for. It will most definitely find you a good deal. I depend on it.” -Chelsea Galvez

The college textbook industry may be the truest definition of a racket found in contemporary America. Ridiculous prices and ever changing editions put the serious hurt on your average college student and nothing feels worse than selling your books back to the store for a mere fraction of what you paid for them. Luckily, thanks to the advent of the internet, modern students have at least a chance to try and hold onto as much of their money as possible. Websites like Chegg, Bookrenter, Amazon, eBay, the above mentioned Slugbooks and even Facebook can be wonderful tools to help you or your classmates get the most for the least in the world of text books. Some campuses also offer book rental programs that are definitely worth investigating for an additional option to help you save big.

Fall Fashion

“For the guys and girls: a great easy to throw on hoodie, a scarf collection, beanies, lots and lots of beanies for your hair’s health and your own, a solid pair of boots, and gloves are a must.” -Kim Johnson

As the warm temperatures of this area are always a mess, the best idea for students is layering. Luckily, many of the places you’ll visit to find the proper furnishings for your apartment will most likely have some good clothing stores in close proximity. Standards like Macy’s, H&M, Target, and Ross will have a variety of fall minded clothes at reasonable rates. However, again, if you’re looking for vintage threads on a budget, Claremont, Upland and Palm Springs have thrift shops to die for—and let’s not forget . . . Saturday is yard sale day everywhere! You may have to dig through a near endless amount of racks but it’ll be worth it when you strike gold in the form of a Van Halen 1982 Tour t-shirt, a pair of perfectly broken-in jeans, a well-loved Navy pea coat or, sometimes, designer suits and shoes all for only a few bucks. There is also the old standard college of sweatshirt which usually pulls double duty by looking pretty cool and being incredibly warm and comfy.


Whether buckling down for an all night study, chilling out and relaxing after a long day, or psyching yourself up to go jog around campus or hit the gym, finding the proper soundtrack to college life is essential. Websites like Spotify and Grooveshark make listening to just about any song, album or artist a breeze. While other sites like Pandora and allow you to easily set up a custom radio station that can play in the background while you focus on more important things. With new releases from pop superstars like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Robin Thicke, and J. Cole to feast your ears upon and records due out from awesome more indie artists like Goldfrapp, Neko Case, The Octopus Project, and Franz Ferdinand being released in the near future, there’s plenty to be listening to. Lastly, for those students finding a love for vinyl that their parent’s generation shared, the Inland Empire has a variety of record stores to adventure to and never be scared to check out garage sales advertised on Craigslist for the really good deals.


“The biggest piece of advice I can give about the freshman 15 is to not radically increase your portion sizes once you get to college. Since most dining halls have students swipe in once, and then get as many servings from each of the food stations as they want, some people kind of overdo it since you can practically eat as much junk food and as little vegetables as you want.” -Aleina Wachtel

At some colleges, not too long ago, it could be a bit of an ordeal to keep yourself in shape and not succumb to the dreaded “freshmen fifteen.” In addition to the gym and health food options, most colleges have well funded athletic departments with a variety of sporting activities to participate in. Also, many cities have various intramural sports leagues that are easy to join and are good for making friends and building a local social network. For those looking to do a bit of grocery shopping, through the magic of places like Trader Joe’s and Fresh & Easy, many varieties of healthier, organic foods are much easier to find and purchase. Locating the closest one to you should be a priority.

Balancing Work & Play

“My daily calendar book: I schedule all homework time, all study time, and then I’m organized and still have free time, without feeling overwhelmed.” –E. Bradley

One of the most difficult things for any new student (actually, anybody) is learning to manage time and juggle priorities. As one quickly discovers around mid-terms and finals, time can become commodity and between projects, tests, and papers, things can start to feel pretty overwhelming. Most of our student collaborators agreed that some type of planner, whether it’s the calendar in your phone or a physical book, with due dates from your class’s syllabi, time set aside for work and study, as well as other major events and activities mapped out is a major point for success. The other consensus of our student advisors is that both note taking and the repetition of flashcard use play major roles in how well you perform in your classes. If you’re not so good on the note taking front, making friends with somebody in your class that is, or befriending your professor are easy ways to make sure that you stay prepared for any upcoming tests or assignments.

Getting Involved

“Make sure to stay after lecture and talk to professors, visit office hours! That’s the only way your professor will know you on a first name basis.” -A. Solomon

The first few months for any new student can be lonely, especially if you’re lucky enough to be attending college in a completely new city far away from home. This is why it’s important to immediately set about involving yourself in either collegiate or local city activities, even if the idea of mingling with strangers is intimidating to you. Especially at the beginning of the year, many campus clubs focus on reaching out to new students and are easy places to start finding people with similar interests and making new friends. Similarly, taking the time to introduce yourself to your professor and any classroom assistants and making a point to participate in class can be extremely beneficial and allow you to get personal guidance from folks with a lot more education and experience than yourself. Lastly, perhaps the most underutilized facility on any campus is the student health building, if you’re feeling ill, they’ll take care of you and make sure that all of your personal needs are taken care at a cost that is either low or free.

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