Tag Archives: school

saving $: consider scanning instead of photocopying

17 Jan

For one of my courses, we had to purchase a $78 reading package containing photocopies of chapters and articles from various books and journals. The nice thing about these packages is you can buy one and split it with friends by photocopying it again but it’s not the most environmental or cost friendly-method.

I did this once. I offered to copy a package and took it to a nearby print shop. It was the beginning of the semester and it was busy.  I had to wait for a printer to become available and there were actually people copying textbooks page by page. Way extreme. I couldn’t believe people actually did that. I don’t have the patience.

Copying about 100 pages took at least 30 minutes to  copy, organize and holepunch everything plus waiting around for 20 min for a printer. This process saved us both saved some money although it did about $12 in printing costs.

I got my iPad this year and I try to do as much reading as I can on it. I don’t print out articles anymore and save a ton of paper and printer ink which is great. I also realized that I can share a reading package with a friend at a much cheaper rate!


What you need: reading package, memory stick and a large printer/scanner combo that scans from a pile of paper.

If you or your friend don’t mind reading a digital copy, purchase the package and find a laser printer and scanner combo at your school. You can probably find one in your department’s lounge or even library. Check with someone to make sure it’s ok and do it during a less busy time so you’re not hogging the printer. Stick an article into the scanner feed and send it to your memory stick (if it’s a Ricoh printer, the option to send to memory stick should be at the top right at the screen by selecting source or something along those lines) and repeat. $40 saved right away in addition to the $5 or so in photocopying costs.

I did this in my department’s library and the assistant showed me how to set it up. It took about 50 minutes to scan 10 articles because the machine took about 3-4 minutes to save the article as a PDF to the memory stick. I read a required reading while waiting so no time was wasted.



50 things to do before you graduate university

5 Jan

This week I officially started the last semester of my time at UBC. It’s exciting but kind of sad at the same time. I’ve got to figure out what I want to do after I graduate because everyone asks this question and I probably should have a decent answer. So far, my answer includes applying to the Explore program, going to Disneyworld, New York, and Washington, D.C this summer, hopefully moving into an affordable place, and job hunting.

Before I get there, I have one more semester to complete. Which means one more semester until I am no longer “officially” a student. I quote “officially” because my student card is valid until 2016 but I don’t have any registered classes to prove it. I figured this would be an opportune time for myself and many others who are graduating this semester as well to review this list I found on the internet and determine what things we would like to cross off before we are no longer students!


** I did not write the list below although I did remove some content to cut it down a bit. Comments added by myself are written in italics. Original article credit goes to Anna Gosline writing for NewScientist **

50 Things to Do Before you Leave University

1 Spend at least one week researching your career

It may seem obvious, but you’ll never win your dream job until you answer these fundamental questions, and are honest with yourself about the skills you have, the skills you’d like to use and the skills you need to develop, says Elspeth Farrar, director of the Careers Advisory Service at Imperial College London. Lots of people fret about their career decisions without scouring any job ads, reading any careers advice or checking any websites. Put the legwork in, and you’ll fret no more.

2 Send off a job application

Practice makes perfect, they say, so why not try your hand at a few before the real crunch time arrives.  Thank you Co-op.

3 Work on your CV

Boring, but it has to be done, and aeons before you graduate. Some careers advisers suggest that you start by compiling your “fantasy” CV – it will let you see where the holes are. More important is to include absolutely every relevant bit of work, activities or voluntary work you’ve done, says Heather Collier of the National Council for Work Experience. It all counts.

4 Hand in an assignment a week early

You’ll be amazed at the feeling. I’m worried the prof might lose it so I would change this to “Complete an assignment a week early and hand it in on the due date.” I did this a couple of times last semester and it feels great.

5 Visit every library on campus

And learn, once and for all, how to locate books and journal articles from the library database. If that sounds too much like hard work, have a picnic with some friends in a dark corner. Choose your section wisely to avoid discovery: the area given to scientific journals more than 40 years old is usually a good bet.

6 Star in a play

Apart from the glory and attention, think of the benefits to your interviewing skills: speaking under pressure, the ability to improvise and to appear calm in any situation. The cast parties are usually a bit of a whirl, too. I think it’s a bit late for this. The thought of it makes me nervous anyways!

7 Attend a careers fair

Sure, there is so much information and so many companies that you are liable to leave the fair with nothing more than a head spin, but they do often give away some decent swag – from stationery to breath-mint dispensers. And who knows, maybe you’ll find your dream job. Did this and it was very awkward. Most  likely because I went to the guy and said “So…what do you want to talk to me about?”

8 Attend a history lecture

Or any other subject that’s not your own. They say university is about broadening the mind, so look interested and take lots of notes. Who knows, you might decide that your degree was the wrong choice, and you’d be better placed studying ancient Chinese porcelain. I’m a history minor so been there, done that!

9 Do something stupid for charity

Stay awake for 48 hours watching every single James Bond film back-to-back, abseil down a very large building, or spend the afternoon in a bath full of baked beans. Apart from the fact that you’re doing your bit for the less fortunate, getting involved with your university’s RAG (raising and giving) organisation looks great on your CV.

10 Fall madly in love

And of course, get your heart broken. It’s a learning experience. Especially when you have lectures with the object of your affection every day.

11 Pull pints (so British)

Working at the student bar is a great way to meet people, make some money and become the most popular person in the room. Employers also value this work experience: you have to work with customers, hone interpersonal skills via other bar staff, and handle sums of money. How very responsible of you.

12 Take a course or alternative module

Heck, you might even learn something new. Plus it shows you are well-rounded and flexible, have varied interests and are open to new ideas – very desirable employee traits.

13 Try out for the University Challenge team

You might never get another chance to make a fool of yourself on national TV – like student Tareq El Menabawey from the University of Newcastle. When Jeremy Paxman asked for the name of an exotic yellow-tailed bird from South America, Tareq buzzed in, panicked and blurted out “budgie”. “Jeremy Paxman was not impressed, and repeated the words ‘budgie? budgie?’ back at me,” he says. Apart from the nightmares, he laughs about it now. What? Poor guy…doesn’t help that the author mentioned this story again

14 Argue with an arts student

Everyone thinks their subject is the only one worth studying, and the Arts vs Science feud has been running for years. Here’s something new you can throw back at ’em: science and engineering graduates have a leg-up in the job market because of their extra skills, says Farrar. For example, numeracy is a real boon for some employers, and you don’t get that studying Chaucer. Not if you’re a Geography major! 😉

15 Join a society

Sign up to as many as you have time for, whether it’s the whisky-tasting club or the knitting fraternity. Prospective bosses love to see students richly involved in their university communities. It speaks of dynamic, motivated people with good interpersonal skills. Varied activities also give you something a little extra to talk about during interviews – remember that employers want enthusiasm and commitment.

16 Consider never leaving

We don’t mean squatting in the halls during summer break, but staying on to study for a master’s or PhD. If your subject excites you and you fancy a challenge, then this is definitely worth some careful thought. Please don’t stay on simply to tick off all the things on this list, however.

17 Vote

Or better, run for an elected position. Nothing says leadership more than a role deciding the fate of fellow students. Employers love leaders.

18 Attend a protest

You can’t call yourself a real student until you’ve taken up paint and poster board in the fight for crispier crisps, cheaper pints, or whatever else is going on.

19 Hug a professor

Simply getting to know one will suffice, though. Everyone knows at least one professor who inspired or encouraged them. They can become an invaluable mentor, show you career opportunities you wouldn’t have imagined, and of course, write you fantastic references. It’s worth putting in the time to build a relationship with that person. Remember, though, not all professors like a cuddle.

20 Discover a local band

They might never turn out to be Coldplay, but if they did, imagine the pure smug joy in five years’ time of saying: “Yes, they’re pretty good aren’t they? I saw them back in ’07 at the student union.”

21 Get some work experience

Careers advisers say that this is the most important activity you can do while at university. Employers are always on the lookout for graduates with practical skills, and work experience is the best way to make your CV shine. In many scientific jobs, relevant work experience is simply a must – you need to prove you know your way around a lab bench, field site or database. Companies offer placements during university holidays, so you have plenty of opportunities. When on the placement, keep a log of all the tasks you’ve done and the skills you develop – it will help when it comes to CV-writing later.

22 Speak at a debate

Apart from making you think twice before saying anything ridiculous and unsupportable in public ever again, addressing an audience is an important part of many jobs. If you can engage a bunch of rowdy students then you’ll have no problems with a future client or your boss.

23 Teach science to kids

Universities nationwide have set up programmes with local schools to get undergraduates into classrooms. It’s a boon for the kids and great for you too. Teaching experience looks great on your CV, plus it gives you a taster of the profession.

24 Take your parents to the pub

Let them see the new, grown-up you. Choose the location carefully, though, mama and papa are unlikely to enjoy your local nightclub, however much you love it.

25 Write a blog

Daily writing will improve your communication skills, which is a must in the working world, and can sometimes be lacking in science and engineering graduates. Science-based blogs are also a great way to network across the internet, giving you a new view into careers and potential employers. It might even get you a job. However, it’s worth considering what you share with the world – ask yourself whether you would want prospective bosses to read your musings, especially if they are mainly about the joys of procrastination. Check!

26 Try a job shadow

Job-shadowing is an increasingly popular option for students who want to get a taste of a career before committing. Usually it’s only a short-term, unpaid placement, but it provides insight into the work, culture and environment of a company without actually getting stuck in it. It’s also valuable networking time.

27 Wear your pyjamas to a lecture

One of the great disappointments at the start of a science degree comes when you discover just how many 9 am lectures you have compared with arts students. So it’s OK to do this once, even if you cheat and wear the pyjamas under your clothes. But don’t fall asleep – that would be rude. Did this in high school and not interested in doing this again.

28 Flip burgers

Soon you’ll be an oh-so-qualified bachelor, master or doctor, and never again will you have to slog away for cash during your summer holidays. In the meantime, take a menial job just so you can brag to your kids that you had it tough when you were young. Forget working for a multinational burger chain, however. The smart student makes their summer cash in a burger van at an outdoor festival like Glastonbury. Your kids will never need to know you had fun doing it.

29 Buy a suit

Yes we know that you just adore those hole-ridden jeans and super-comfortable trainers, but they aren’t exactly interview material, are they? First impressions in the interview room may be the most important ones you get to make, and dressing sloppily is a common mistake. Show employers that you are serious, professional and competent. Invest now and buy a good quality, classically styled ensemble; you might regret the giant lapels and fuchsia stripes in a few years.

30 Visit the careers office

Careers advisers are the people who know their way around work placements, job vacancies and CV-writing, so you should tap all of their know-how while you still have access to it.

31 Become excessively pretentious

It happens to all of us at least once, so don’t worry. If, however, there are signs of permanent damage, seek help immediately.

32 Organise something

Your university years are the prime time to put on an event, whether it’s a party, rally, conference or comedy night. In addition to all the fun, accolades and free entry, event planning on any scale shows off teamwork, problem solving and organisational skills – three of the top sought-after traits in potential employees, according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters.

33 Throw a proper dinner party

For a true challenge, you have to invite more than 10 people, and cook food that requires a recipe.

34 Volunteer

Donating your time and skills to any organisation is a great way to network, make friends and gain valuable real-world experience. For many jobs, appropriate volunteer work is just as good as the paid stuff.

35 Be a culture vulture

Once fully ensconced in the 9 to 5 working world, you won’t have time to visit museums, galleries and impressive buildings between lectures. So take the opportunity to enjoy your local treasures, without the crowds.

36 Join a sports team

In case you were wondering, pool and table tennis do count.

37 Start a business

Employers adore the entrepreneurial spirit – it shows off those top desirable traits of independence, motivation and creative thinking. Not to mention you could make some serious money in the process. Many universities host entrepreneurial competitions with cash prizes, and they also offer useful advice, access to mentors and skill-building for starting up your own business.

38 Live out

Living in halls has all the perks of home – meals at set times and no gas bills – but the flatmates tend to be a lot more fun than your parents. However, any student should live out eventually: it offers a fabulous taste of independence. Make sure to have at least one blazing row about who buys the milk and washes the dishes.

39 Make 100 friends

You could do this via any of the traditional pub or extra-curricular methods listed so far, or even with bribery if you’re desperate. But for a more 21st-century approach, there’s social networking site Facebook. It’s easy if you try (and are prepared to stretch the definition of friendship). Share the love.

40 Buy a piece of university clothing

You just can’t leave university without a little bit of fleecy cotton comfort to remind you of the good old days. But please, wear it judiciously (see “Buy a suit”, No. 29). When you step outside the campus borders it will become deeply unfashionable. Sunday papers and park football only. I did this one a couple of months ago and found an XXS hoodie at the Outpost that actually fits but I probably should have gone with an XS. 

41 Go to the zoo

There’s bound to be one nearby. You’ll develop a new appreciation for animal behaviour in captivity – it’s not too much like the working world, honest.

42 Subscribe to a magazine

Or get a daily newspaper delivered. Even though you are up to your eyeballs in assigned reading, try to absorb current affairs as often as possible, especially if it is relevant to your chosen career path. Every employer wants to hire sharp, worldly workers who have a wider sense of the environment in which they work. A subscription to Heat magazine doesn’t count, unless you plan to join the paparazzi, of course. Did this with Zinio! On my way to be cultured and worldly…See post here for free magz!

43 collect £50 in loose change

Fill a big pot with the pennies: it may come in useful. As soon as you graduate, student loan payments start eating into your pay cheque, the council chases you for tax and the friendly bank manager who bestowed an interest-free overdraft on you will want their pound of flesh. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to hand over £1000 worth of coppers instead?

44 Take a sandwich year

Many students, in engineering or biochemistry, for instance, take a year out halfway to work in industry. You graduate behind most of your friends, but the opportunity to work in your field can be a boon later on: the skills you’ll pick up are gold dust for your CV, plus you may impress the employer enough to win a permanent job. Students who take a year out also tend to perform significantly better in their degree exams, says Collier. Even if it doesn’t come as a standard part of your course, many departments will support you taking a year out midway – though you’ll have to do more legwork to find a position.

45 Go to a fancy-dress ball

Discover new levels of exhibitionism and creativity by making a first-class costume. Bonus points if it involves flashing lights and a car battery.  Geogala at the end of this year!

46 Brighten up your department

Erlenmeyer flasks make for surprisingly attractive vases, and dreary lab benches will often benefit from a tasteful throw.

47 Find religion

And/or lose it.  

48 Find a job

The dream scenario is to go straight into a job out of university, and many of the early birds achieve this. Don’t panic if you feel left behind, though. Most science graduates find employment pretty quickly: the 2005 unemployment rate six months after graduation was just 6.2 per cent. Few win their dream job at the first try and with over 40 years of working life ahead of you, there’s plenty of time to get on a career path that makes you happy.

49 Give up drinking (twice)

Most effectively done with your head actually inside a toilet bowl. Shame on you. Ohh..yes..this has happened…

50 Open your mind

Knowing whether you’ve achieved this depends on your point of view: for some it’s about psychedelic substances or “finding yourself”, for others it’s simply about changing their brand of cereal. So with this in mind, all we’d stress is that you at least open up to the career potential of your degree. Many people come to university so focused on academic study that they fail to see the broad category of jobs that their education prepares them for, says Farrar. A science or engineering degree qualifies you for more than you might think, and there’s no telling where it could take you.

My total so far: 24. Some of the items on the list are a bit late to do now or are too British so there are about 5 more I would like to accomplish before school is done and I will be satisfied. 

in case you missed it…

22 Oct

I’ve been updating this blog pretty much everyday and posts are starting to get pushed onto the next pages so I thought it would be handy to have a weekly recap of my posts (about 2 weeks for this post since it’s the first) from oldest to newest:

i’ve only got 4 minutes to save the world

2 Oct

I’ve got 4 minutes to post this blog.

While doing my Geography homework for my micro-climate class, I learned:

1 Wm-2  = .0864  MJday-1m-2

This proves useful when calculating the daily energy gain/loss through net shortwave, net longwave, and net all wave radiative flux densities. May this prove useful in your everyday lives.

Bam! (Tomorrow’s 1:24 will be better. I promise.)