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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

Do This Not That

by a pack of panicked Planet S Staff
Published Thursday September 4, 04:52 pm
Higher education has its own set of rules. Here are some of them

Well, this is ironic. “We’ll run an awesome ‘Do This’ and ‘Don’t Do That’ list for the feature in our 2014 Back To School special!”, says the editor. “It’ll be brilliant!” he spews from his puffing chest.

Except he said that roughly three months ago, and then forgot to assign any bit of it to anyone. Sigh.

So, just like you’re probably going to panic more than a few times at school this year, here’s our panicked feature. Remember: we won’t judge you if you don’t judge us…





So, whatcha into? Was it something that nobody in your small-town (or even big-city) high school understood? No worries — because I’m betting there’s a club for you at university. Along with the obvious (rec sports like hockey, flag football, volleyball, basketball etc., and even just gyms for pick-up games), there’s a ton of stuff for everyone on campus. A quick Google search of “U of S clubs” leads us to… well, not a helluva lot, because the damn page wouldn’t load. However, since this is the “panic” guide, I splashed around on the Internet and found tons of stuff: all sorts of clubs for different cultures and faiths, gamers’ clubs (role-playing, card and video!), an anime and manga club, the Space Design club, and absolutely tons more. There’s even political clubs, if that’s your cup of tea (and it should be: you’re an adult now, get informed!).



Now clearly, you’ve never consumed alcohol before, because you were underage. Right? Right! Of course — why did I even ask? But still, I’m betting you saw your dad, mom, uncle, older sibling or skeevey dude down the street who never wears a shirt do it. And furthermore, I’m betting they were drinking some crap: mainstream ick beer like Canadian or Bud Light, shitty red wine or some sort of hard alcohol that shouldn’t be used for anything other than disinfectant.

Sure, I understand that you might just follow in your father’s footsteps, but here’s the thing: the world of booze is huuuge, and wonderful! So if you’re a beer drinker (like me), why settle for watery mainstream schlock when you could be learning about Paddock Wood’s 606 (or most any of their other beers — all local!), Prairie Sun’s Crazy Farm (also local, and an old-style Belgian farm ale!), Half-Pint Brewery’s Little Scrapper (hooray for IPAs, I say!) or roughly a gerbillion other quality choices? The exact same could be said for wine (don’t choose “the one with the bull on it” just ‘cause your great-aunt Norma did), hard liquors and even cocktails, martinis and so on. You can drink whatever you want now: why not make it something good? Ask around and you’ll even find good stuff that won’t overdraw your bank account.



Sure, you’re mostly paying for these perks in student fees, so that’s a downside. But if you’re not using them at all, you’re just throwing that money away for nothing — and that’s an even bigger downside. So make that money work for you!

The library is of course a place to do research (do your research!), but it’s also a huge repository of awesome books, movies and music and free Internet access — and since you have a student card, that’s all “free”!

And hey, did you know you have a gym membership? Yup — campus fitness is “free” to all dues-paying students! Not a bad thing at all when your diet consists of Kraft Dinner and bulk Superstore muffins.

Speaking of computers, there are labs filled with them all over campus. That’s super cool if you don’t have the cash for a system/laptop at home. Also, here’s a hint: if a bunch of your friends are playing a wicked online game late at night, I’m betting you can find a “free” terminal where you can join them. Just remember your headphones, so some stressed-out studier doesn’t thump you with a heavy-duty coffee mug.

There’s free transit too, and way more — and if I remember correctly, much of it is outlined in the annual Students’ Guide. Which is also free!



Yup, your best friends in high school were definitely crucial people. They saw you through some of (what you thought were) the worst times of your life, and rejoiced with you during some of (what you thought were) the absolute best times.

And trust me: I’m absolutely not saying you should just throw them all under the bus and move on with nary a backward glance. But here’s the thing.

In the social hotbox that is childhood / youth / high school, your friends are sometimes your friends because of common enemies (which don’t have to be specific people, mind you — sometimes they’re just things, like gym class or expensive trendy clothes), rather than common interests. Nothing wrong with that, but now that you’re surrounded by well over 10,000 other people on campus, it’s highly likely that you’ll find a lot more people who like a lot more of the same things that you do than a lot of your high school friends ever did.






Yeah, I know. Classes are now a helluva lot harder than they used to be — and there’s no Ms./Mr. Smith keeping track of what you’re doing! (Not to mention your parents…) Oh, the freedom’s great, isn’t it? Damn straight I’m gonna have a beer at noon, play Call of Duy ‘til 4 am and so on, whatever your druthers may be. But uh-oh: there’s that looming essay on Wuthering Heights or that seriously scary calculus exam. What to do?

Well first thing, don’t cheat. Full stop.

Trust me, youngsters: every cheat website out there is also one that your prof probably knows about, and they’ve seen this silly game for a lot of years. And here’s the thing: sooo many of us (yours truly included) have failed an exam, a class or even a year (yup), and gone on to turn out just fine. But get caught cheating? Well, there’s no detention in university — so it may well be straight-up expulsion for you. Not good.



Soo, between your paltry monthly student loan payment and the teensy bit you saved from your summer job, you’re generally broke. By which I mean always broke — even if you get a part-time job. (All of this is the result of a system that’s been broken by many federal and provincial governments past and present, who’ve basically killed any sense of fairness in post-secondary education, but never mind. Back to the topic…) Even worse, all your friends are heading somewhere awesome / having a pizza party at Bill’s house / going on a sweet shopping spree.

You can’t go, obviously. But wait! You’ve got that shiny new credit card in your pocket, so why not?

Here’s why.

Credit card companies hand their plastic out to students like sickos offer candy to children, and for the same reason: they know a lot of you are gonna take it hook, line and sinker. And once you start racking up charges on that puppy, the wonders of compound interest kick in to make them a crapload of cash — thanks to the roughly 20 per cent interest you’ll be paying.

Let’s just look at my last credit card statement, as an example. My last statement showed a balance of $1813.90, for which I’d need to apply a minimum payment of $42. Huh — that doesn’t seem tough, does it?

Well, no — until you realize I was charged $32.17 in interest, which means my minimum payment would take exactly $9.83 off my total balance. It doesn’t take a math major to realize that paying 42 bucks to earn less than $10 is a pretty stupid deal. And if you default at any point, say goodbye to the credit rating that you’re hoping will buy you a house, car or anything else in the future.

So maybe you don’t really need that pizza, right?



Take that, parent! I’ve got my own place now and I can have a party whenever I want!

Yeah, it’s super-awesome — but just like Icarus and the sun (you’re in university now, look it up!), you don’t want to fly too close to the molten sun that is the out-of-control party.

Parties are awesome, in theory: you meet new people, get to better know people you already know, have some fun and maybe even meet that special someone. Hooray for the John Hughes ‘80s-style movie version of socializing!

But remember that house that was in 16 Candles? Super trashed. That guy was so lucky that he was a rich little twerp. (Let’s not even start with the “hey, here’s my girlfriend, have a good sex time with her” part.) His parents probably just sucked it up as harmless fun.

Your landlord, on the other hand, will not. You know that one-month damage deposit you (or your parents, or your student loan) put down when you got there? Gone. You know your chances of renting anything decent ever again? Gone. (Landlords are a seriously unforgiving bunch, and they share blacklists! They’ve even got websites!)

So if it’s your place, invite people you can trust (and not too many of them), and have a great time. If it’s someone else’s place and things are getting out of control, please don’t contribute to the idiocy: tell the host, then leave.

After all, if every party turns to shit, no one’s going to have them, right?



Man, that schedule you’ve gotten yourself is harsh! Who the hell starts classes at 8:30 am, right? But still: go. Go to all of them. Or at least, go to the vast majority of them.

Take it from someone who knows — it may not seem like it in a room filled with 100-plus people, but your frequent absences will be noticed in your performance on essays or exams. And it’s even worse in smaller classes, where you’ll find yourself asking a crucial question of a prof, and realize that they’re thinking, “Who the hell is this person?”

If nothing else, dig deep inside, remember how broke you are at all times and realize, “goddammit — I’m paying for each and every one of these!” It’s not gonna make the morning feel any better, but it should help get your ass out of bed.

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