Being a full-time student is costly and stressful, but it certainly has its perks. When I was enrolled in classes at the Mississauga branch of the University of Toronto (UTM), for example, the cost of my student bus pass was included in my tuition fees, which was, frankly, an absolute steal. Later on, I discovered that I could get a one-year membership to the AGO and its affiliates for only $50 (half the normal cost), and that the Boston Pizza across the street from Square One Shopping Centre gives a 10 percent discount to UTM students—all you have to do is show your student card at the end of your meal!
Advantages like these seem to pop up all the time to make student life a little sweeter. Some of the best student perks are found right on campus. Even if the only thing you feel like doing at the end of a long day of lectures is hopping on the bus and heading home, there are often days when you have a couple of hours to kill between classes. On days like these, why not check out the great facilities your school has to offer?
Exercise is a great way to keep your body as well as your brain in shape, so consider spending some time at your campus gym (assuming there is one). When I attended UTM, I hardly ever went to the Recreational Athletics and Wellness Centre, but now that I’ve graduated, I realize that I took my free membership for granted. Along with the standard treadmills and workout equipment, the RAWC also has squash courts, a gigantic pool and even a dance studio. Ironically, construction of that building was finished in September 2006, which is when I started my freshman year. If I could turn back the clock, I would visit the RAWC every single week.
Another thing to watch out for when exploring the options on campus is a fully-loaded computer lab. Even if the hardware itself isn’t top of the line, the computers will at least have a wide array of software that you might not have on your own computer. When I took Advanced Audio Production at Sheridan College, the computers in my classroom had the fantastic digital audio workstation known as Pro Tools. Because I am a songwriter in my spare time, I was very excited about this; I would stay late after every class, mixing and mastering and basically just having a blast. Keep in mind that Pro Tools is by no means a small investment, and I haven’t had the chance to purchase my own copy since I took that course two years ago.
The last thing I want to discuss may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ll mention it anyway: take the time to visit the campus library! Whether you’re looking for research materials in the stacks or browsing through the titles of fiction and literature, a trip to the library is always a worthwhile use of your time. The Robarts Library of the University of Toronto, for example, is probably the most impressive I’ve ever seen. The 14-story complex “contains more than 4.5 million bookform items, 4.1 million microform items and 740,000 other items.” Campus libraries also provide students with printing and photocopying machines, which are very affordable and remove the hassle of stocking your own printer with paper and ink.
In most cases, campus facilities are available exclusively to students and faculty members, so take advantage of them while you can!