Steve Lotter
Staff Writer

Students, we have been taught for far too long that the reason why we make money is so we can spend it and feed the system. Sure there are the necessaries – food, a place to live, a ride to get around in – but did you really need that $17 dollar Nelly CD from the mall?
 
Music, movies, and media in general play an important yet expensive role in the lives of many college students. If you agree that the prices for movies and music at commercial stores are too much, look no further then your nearest library.
 
You remember the library, don’t you? It was that building with all the books you used to go to in elementary school. Did you know that the St. Joseph Public Library system has been consistently ranked among the TOP TEN public libraries (serving populations of 100,000 to 250,000) in the U.S. for the past 8 years? In addition to books and magazines, your library aims to bring you the finest in movies, music, and PC gaming.
 
Don’t think of the library as a place for the old; think of it as a hub for the new. Shuffle into one of its many locations (including right next to your campus) and find a flick you’ve been dying to see or discover a new artist you’ve never heard of. Need an expensive book for class? Why not check to see if the library has it first?
 
In terms of selection, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more decent place to browse then the media section on the top floor of the main library located in downtown South Bend. I’ve used the library to find films to present in class for projects and research papers. I’ve found music from other parts of the world that have broadened my horizons in world art. The library has as great a selection of newer and mainstream as it does foreign and hard to find media.
 
New arrivals ship weekly, meaning you don’t have to camp out in front of Best Buy for the latest Jay-Z when you can just go to the library and check it out for free. Fiction movies and TV box sets are 75 cents a piece and documentaries, stand-up comedy, and concerts are free. If you think you can watch an entire season’s worth of the Sopranos in 3 days, the library will let you attempt it.
 
Whatever you do, don’t take the library for granted. It’s a great way to get a good find, but it can get sticky if you keep your materials for longer than intended. Fines have long been a problem with many younger users of the library, but you’re a college student now. You’re responsible. Surely you can handle returning a CD you checked out for free in 20 days, right?
 
Some prefer to spend loads of cash on media; some cheat the system and use the internet. I prefer the library, a safe and inexpensive way to get the best for less. Check out their web site [sjcpl.lib.in.us] for more information on where they are located, when they are open, and whether or not they have what you are looking for.

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Steve Lotter
Staff Writer

Ah, the age old question, what does a poor student do when they’re low on cash?  This age old question has a new age answer; get a credit card, but is it the smartest decision?

Students should definitely be wary of becoming a first time credit card user while in college.  Many credit companies prey on young college students.  They smell poor like sharks smell blood.  When they sink their teeth in, they don’t let go and because of poor credit history, a student’s financial future can be forever tarnished.

First things first, you have to ask yourself, do I really need a credit card?  A lot of students think so because they’ve been told that they need to start building their credit up. 

Basically, if you ever want to make those big purchases down the line, you need to prove you can make little purchases in monthly payments first.  But this still doesn’t explain why an 18 year old freshman would need a credit card so soon?

As soon as I graduated high school and had chosen IUSB as my choice for higher education, I started getting weekly, if not daily, mailed envelopes with my name on it from Visa, MasterCard and the like.  For many students, this scenario plays out on a regular basis. 

You might feel pressured, but like any other temptation, if you abstain you’ll be better off in the long run.  A credit card may sound like a good idea at first.  I mean, who wouldn’t like to have a piece of plastic around to bail you out of tight situations? 

Most of the time, credit cards also mean debt.  If you’re not careful, and your limit is sky high, you can rack up more debt than you have in your bank.  Add that to the massive amounts of student loans you’ll be paying back after college, and you’re basically on your way to a long life of monthly bills and ramen noodles.

If you have to get a credit card, be smart about it.  You don’t need more than one card to obtain a good credit report.  Make sure you’re getting the card for the right reasons.  A brand new 70 inch HDTV from Best Buy is not a good reason.  Also, having a steady job is necessary to ensure you can make those payments on time.

For more information on credit card safety, visit the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions webpage on students and credit [www.in.gov/dfi/education/MiniLessons/studcrcd.htm].  Like anything that sounds too good to be true, it probably is, but if you play your cards right, a good credit report is right around the corner. 

Deciding what to ware Getting a quality education is not the only perk of attending IUSB.  You might not have known it, but being a student entitles you to a bevy of discounts on software and hardware.

At the Northside campus bookstore you can purchase top of the line Microsoft programs at prices that will make even the gloomiest of the glum happy.  Consider the price of Windows XP, which might set you back a couple hundred dollars depending on where you buy it.  If you are wise enough to stop by the bookstore before Best Buy, you’ll walk away with the PC standard in operating systems for only ten bucks.  Are you sold yet? Read the rest of this entry »