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School Days: Your Guide for a Boss Year

Be in the know to be the big man on campus

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So, you want to be the big man--or woman--on campus this year. Well, that's going to take a lot of time and dedication because, let's admit it, it ain't easy being a crazy college kid these days. Between sock hops and socials, there's hardly time for guys and gals to hit the books before that hard-nosed professor is threatening a pop quiz.

But with a little guidance, every student can be on the stick. That's right, no one will think you're a total spaz when you know where to go, how to get there and what's the lowdown.

Boise Weekly is here to offer a little gentle guidance with a few dos and don'ts. Learn some handy lessons from your imaginary peers before you get in over your head, and soon all your friends will think you're one hep cat.

—Deanna Darr


Brad Gets a Smartphone: Smart apps and websites for the A+ student



Meet Brad. Brad is a new college student who's just moved to Boise from out of state. Brad's an average everyday student--he's outgoing, enthusiastic and keeps up to date with technology and trends. He has a smartphone that never leaves his side, along with a laptop for serious schoolwork.

Brad wakes up in the morning and checks his to-do list and schedule via the Remember The Milk app on his smartphone(rememberthemilk.com). It's a pretty busy day today for Brad--a lecture in the morning, an exam in the early afternoon and a first draft of an essay due afterward. Then tonight he's supposed to meet up with some new friends downtown for appetizers and drinks. Brad's roommate, Glenn, also has a busy day. He can't quite remember what his schedule is, though. He must have written it down somewhere...

Brad heads to the lecture, where he takes notes on his laptop with Evernote (evernote.com), which also syncs to his smartphone app. Glenn arrives 10 minutes late and scribbles his notes into a torn notebook, somewhere between his calculus notes and to-do list for last Thursday.

After the lecture Brad does some last-minute flashcard revision for his exam via StudyBlue (studyblue.com). Glenn tries to do the same, but the study lab is full. He instead goes over his notes, but after finding the right scrap of paper, he can barely read his own handwriting.

Brad returns home to type up his essay, using the notes from the lecture earlier. Purdue's OWL site (owl.english.purdue.edu/owl) helps him with proper formatting and citations. He creates a bibliography by scanning the barcodes of his books with his EasyBib app (easybib.com)--books, by the way, that he managed to find cheap online via Bigwords.com. Once he's done, he backs up the essay onto his Dropbox cloud storage (dropbox.com) and emails it off to his professor. Glenn writes up his essay once he manages to sort out his notes. He struggles trying to remember all the necessary formatting and citations. Horror of horrors, his computer crashes just after he finishes. It's all gone, every word of it.

Brad's worked up quite a hunger after all that; but, as is the norm with student living, his pantry is virtually bare. Just a few sparse ingredients that he puts into his Big Oven app (bigoven.com) generate a decent recipe for him. Tonight it's a bacon and corn risotto. Glenn looks at him enviously over his bowl of Top Ramen.

Of course, all work and no play makes Brad a dull boy. Even though he's new to town, he knows exactly where to go for the best happy hour deals, thanks to his Cocktail Compass app (cocktailcompass.com). He arranges to meet his friends at a bar that's also a venue featured on his BW Smartcard app (weeklycard.com/boise), saving him even more money. Useful, as tomorrow he'll have to head to the grocery store to restock the pantry using his Grocery IQ list (groceryiq.com). Glenn, meanwhile, is still back at the dorm, typing up his essay for the second time.


—Chris Grapes


Rules of the Road: Mary, Judy and Buddy get a transit lesson



You want to go to school, but you're not sure how best to get yourself there? Coming up with a convenient transportation plan is sure to ease your path to higher education.

It's a lesson Mary and Judy know well, but that Buddy could use some work on.

Mary lives close to campus and is able to use her bicycle not only to get to campus, but also between classes once she's there. Mary thinks the additional $100,000-worth of new bike racks installed on campus over the summer are keen.

J.C. Porter, assistant director for transportation and parking at Boise State University, agrees, adding that 20 percent of students ride bikes to campus, and parking those bikes hasn't always been so peachy.

In fact, so many students think bike riding is swell, that the university doubled the number of bikes it rents out for the year or semester, now offering 50 cruisers for students to use. Mary thinks the school's Cycling Learning Center in the Lincoln Garage--where she can get a bike tire fixed or have a tuneup done--is the very most.

When Mary has questions about getting around, or how to use the bike lockers inside the parking garages, she heads straight for the transit center in its new home in the Student Union.

But sometimes the snow is flying or Mary needs to get her project to the science fair, and her bike isn't an option. Still, Mary doesn't get her knee socks in a twist. She turns to the city's bus system, where her student ID gets her a free ride.

Unlike Mary, both Judy and Buddy depend on their cars to get around, but parking on campus means planning ahead. Parking spaces are at a premium, and Porter said the university lost between 50 and 60 spaces when the new recreation field was put in.

While that puts the varsity players over the moon, it means drivers like Judy and Buddy need to know the program.

Buddy plays fast and loose with parking. He's a rebel and doesn't think he needs a parking pass for his wheels. Buddy leaves it to chance to find a spot.

Judy buys a reserved parking permit for one of the parking structures on campus for $320 a year so she knows she'll always have a spot waiting for her. If those sell out, she can pony up for a $118 general parking permit, meaning she can park on campus if she can find a spot.

When Judy is parking near the bake sale, Buddy is still cruising in Nowheresville, looking for a space to park his beater. By the time Judy is ready to head to the malt shop, Buddy has finally found an open spot and is turning out his pockets for the $1.50 per hour charge.

Judy even gets a gold star for buying her parking permit online at transportation.boisestate.edu--the way all the with-it kids do.

Or as Porter says, "pay online, avoid the line."


—Deanna Darr