11 Tips and Tricks to Saving Cash as an RIT Student

Saving money in college is something that doesn’t come easily. Textbooks, groceries, and other expenses quickly add up. To help you manage the costs of attending school, I have created a list of ways you can spend less, and save more.

  1. Bring your own mug to coffee shops on campus

CoffeeDid you know that if you bring your own coffee/tea mug to any coffee shop on campus, you will only be charged the price of a small drink regardless of the mug’s size? Well, now you do! Not only is this a great way to get your caffeine fix from Beanz, Midnight Oil, Javas and Artesano, it will also decrease allotted monthly coffee budget.

  1. Use RIT Tiger Center dining dollar balance

New to RIT’s Tiger Center, students can now check their dining dollars balance so see if they are on track or not for the semester. After logging in with your RIT username and password, your meal plan will automatically pop up, and you will be told what your daily spending budget is. Check it out!

  1. Sell your gently used textbooks back to Barnes and Noble

Do you have a stack of textbooks that you have only used for one seB&Nmester? Instead of keeping a pile of heavy textbooks in your room to collect dust, bring them to RIT’s Barnes & Noble (located in Park Point). Barnes & Noble will gladly purchase your gently used textbooks, and pay you cash on the spot. It’s a win-win situation!

  1. Take advantage of the free amenities on campus

GymThis is one of the simplest ways to decrease your spending (and increase your saving)! Don’t purchase expensive gym memberships when the Student Life Center is available to members of the RIT community free of charge. With a swimming pool, hot tub, track and various courts, the opportunities of free fun are endless. Also, attending an on campus sporting event is a low to no cost event that allows you to embrace your inner RIT Tiger spirit!

  1. Print on-campus (free prints)


While RIT is a large promoter sustainability and most assignments are submitted online, occasionally you will have to submit a physical copy of your work. Instead of purchasing a printer and ink at home, print on campus. Depending on your major and computer lab swipe access, many labs offer a large amount of free prints for students. NRH computer lab (located on the first floor) is open 24 hours, and has an industrial printer ready for your print jobs!

  1. Ask if there is a student discount before purchasing anything

It never hurts to ask! Many retail stores, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. do not advertise the fact that they offer discounts for students. For example, Amazon, The New York Times, Sam’s Club, AMC Theatres, and many more offer various discounts to students.

  1. Buy in Bulk

BulkPurchasing items in bulk is a simple way to decrease monthly costs for food and toiletries. BJ’s Wholesale club (located off of Jefferson Road), offers individuals with a valid RIT ID a free membership ($50 value). This allows for students to enjoy wholesale prices. Purchasing larger quantities in the beginning of each semester will not only save you money in the long run, but will decrease your amount of trips to the store.

  1. Don’t go grocery shopping while hungry

It’s safe to say that as college students, this is bound to happen every once in a while. Being actively aware that you are hungry and eating prior to going grocery shopping will reduce impulse purchases of items that you typically wouldn’t buy in the first place.

  1. Take advantage of RIT’s bus


RIT has an extensive bus schedule that runs seven days a week. Taking the RIT bus will save you money on gas, and is also environmentally friendly. The bus schedule can be found here. We’ve also put together a comprehensive RIT bus guide.

  1. See if library has textbooks before purchasing

We all know the struggle of purchasing textbooks on a semester basis. Prices are typically steep, and can add up quickly. Not only is it a good idea to wait until your professor states whether purchasing the textbook is mandatory, but checking if it is available in the library is also a good idea.

  1. Go to class

This may be obvious, but the cost of skipping class is immense, and definitely not worth it. Skipping/missing class will more than likely result in a lower grade mark for the course, and may lead to you needing to pay to re-take a class a second time the following semester.

New Semester, New You!

We’ve all been there. A new calendar year rolls around, and after a few weeks you’ve gotten sidetracked from the health and fitness resolutions you originally planned to achieve. Don’t worry, we’re only week three into the spring semester, and our team here at Behind the Bricks is ready to help you get back on track!

We have compiled a list of ways for you to return to your happiest and healthy self.

  1. Take advantage of the Student Life Center.


Not only is the Student Life Center (SLC) filled with endless amenities and activities to partake in, it is also free for students to take advantage of. Located directly across the Quarter Mile from the Student Health Center, the SLC features five multi-purpose courts, seven racquetball courts, two dance studios, a loan-out equipment cage, a boxing room and much more. The SLC is directly connected to the Gordon Field House and the Wiedman Fitness Center. The Field House offers recreational courts and a track, where you can get your sweat on! The Wiedman Fitness Center is two-stories tall, and consists of 16,000 square feet filled with workout equipment for everyone to try.

  1. Not interested in getting your sweat on? Check out the healthy Simply Eats food alternatives offered through RIT Dining Services.


Brick City Café is one of the best places on campus to stop at if you are looking to grab a healthy snack, or a full meal. Centrally located within the Student Alumni Union (to the right of Ben and Jerry’s), Brick City Café is open on weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for breakfast, and 11:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch. An extensive salad and fruit bar is always available, and there is a constantly rotating station in the back that offers fresh fish and vegetarian options.

So next time you’re in the Student Alumni Union, quickly grab a piece of fresh fruit located next to the multiple registers. The Market at Global Village is also filled with healthy snacks from all over the world. Embrace a cultural experience while snacking on something other than chips!

Are you a frequent Gracie’s visitor? Don’t forget to check out their extensive salad bar and the Simply Eats section, which typically offers brown rice, vegetables, gluten-free pasta and various meats.

  1. Take advantage of winter in Rochester.

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While Rochester may not be the warmest and sunniest this time of the year, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to do outdoors. Ritter Arena offers daily public skate hours and ice skating is a fun way to work in some winter exercise. If you’re up for a bit of a drive, Bristol Mountain Ski Resort and Swain Resort are located within an hour from RIT’s campus. Both of these resorts make for awesome weekend trips if you’ve been skiing/snowboarding your whole life, or if you’ve never tried before. Grab a group of friends, and enjoy their discounted student passes! Not only will you be making endless memories, but you’ll also be working up a sweat without even noticing.

  1. Stick to a (somewhat) normal sleep schedule.



Sticking to a regular sleep schedule may sound impossible as a college student, but the impact it will have on your health makes it well worth it. Try your best to stop using all technology 30 minutes before bed, and if you don’t have to be up all night writing a paper, avoid caffeine after 4 p.m. Also, try to sleep only an hour longer during the weekend than your last weekday, so your schedule isn’t thrown off the following weekdays. College students are one of the most notoriously sleep-deprived populations, and sleep deprivation has been linked to lower GPAs! By giving up sleep, you are giving up your concentration, memory and ability to learn in and out of the classroom.

  1. Carry cough drops everywhere!

SolThis may sound odd, but when trying to be healthy, it is important to have cough drops and other medicines available as soon as you start to feel under the weather. Luckily, cough drops are available in the Corner Store located under Nathaniel Rochester Hall, and Sols Underground (located under Sol Heumann Hall). Pick some up, so you are always prepared!

  1. Dress Appropriately for the Weather


Lastly, it is important to dress appropriately for Rochester’s winter season. Dressing improperly can lead to colds and other sicknesses that will prevent you from being your healthiest and happiest self. We suggest that you dress in layers, so you can be a comfortable temperature in the classroom, as well as while walking from class to class. Barnes & Noble (located in Park Point) is filled with RIT apparel of all kinds. Sweat shirts, winter hats, outerwear and even mittens are all available in the store, or online at rit.bncollege.com. It is well worth checking out if you want to stay toasty while representing your university!


Our team here at Behind the Bricks hopes that you will find the above list useful while achieving your health and fitness New Year’s resolutions!

Working My Butt Off

As a third year student, there are quite a few phrases you listen to on repeat. “It’s due today, but I haven’t started it yet.” “Why is it snowing in April?!?” “Where’s the free pizza?”

But one of the most common phrases I hear is, “Man, did I get fat. What happened?” Left and right people talk about how skinny they were in high school and how badly they’ve let themselves go since they came to college. I often hear that people don’t have time because of classes, homework or socializing, or frankly say they are lazy and like junk food too much.


I used to be one of those people—I gained a bunch of weight coming to college, ate junk food way too often, and I’m still crazy busy all the time. But there are so many options for exercising on campus! Even if it’s late in the semester, there’s no bad time to start hitting the gym. I realized it doesn’t have to be every day or a super intense workout— some is better than none, and you may as well make it fun! There are plenty of fun things to do on campus that can help you get in better shape.

Taking advantage of the gym and athletics facilities was the best decision I’ve ever made. First, I decided to take Personal Training with Molly Gavin as a wellness class, but I didn’t wait for the semester to get started. I made a list of my goals, figured what I wanted to do and what was feasible during my limited free time. I wanted to lose about 15 pounds during the semester, taking care of the freshmen 15 that became a lot more than that over time. I also wanted to start a little weight training, just because I was a total wimp and carrying a small box seemed like 50 pounds instead of 10 pounds.

dumbbells-293955_960_720 images

I started out with the Weidman Fitness Center, twice a week on the second floor. I went through all the machines, tried them out, found what ones I liked, and made a routine that worked for me. Target the body area you want to shape up or trim down, and then see what machines and routines fit your end goals. The elliptical and bike became my best friends for weight loss and the smaller dumbbells got me started on muscle training. I think those work well as a starting point— I was able to talk while I worked out, listen to an audio book, or read a textbook from class. I like to start most sessions doing some arm training, pushups and balance exercises, then work my way to the elliptical or whatever cardio I’m up for.


Pretty soon I was spending as much time at the gym as I did sitting watching Netflix— plus I sometimes watched it while I worked out— and did the usual things you hear people say: drink more water, take the stairs, pick up a piece of fruit instead of a doughnut, and so on. I didn’t go over the moon changing my lifestyle, but I did enough a little at a time. It took almost the whole semester to reach my goals, but it was great to know that little by little that I was doing better. I could lift more, fit my clothes better and overall felt healthier. Yes there were times I felt discouraged, times I didn’t want to get my butt to the gym, but I kept at it. The small improvements gave me courage and kept me going.


Make the time to go to the gym and look for a workout buddy to make your workout more social and enjoyable. Having even one friend with me gives me energy and confidence to keep going. Talking with a friend keeps my mind occupied and I wind up doing more cardio on the elliptical and more lifting since I forget how many I’ve done. We’d plan for an hour, then spend two hours at the gym because we get caught up in talking— as long as you keep working out, talk it up! My friends like coming along because we can take our time and chat while we work out, socializing while reaching some goals. If you have the same goals, it’ll benefit you and your workout buddy! I suggest talking about the routine ahead of time too— that way you can be on the same page and get the most out of the gym visit.

Better yet, get a group of your friends together and simply do something fun that makes you forget you’re actually working out— there are racquetball courts, tennis courts and several types of athletics fields that you can easily use to get a good game on with your friends. Intramurals are a good way to get in at least an hour of exercise a week, and you get to play with your friends against other teams looking to have fun and compete.


RIT requires students take two wellness classes, but you can take more than that! There are a lot of classes you can take that can help you get started on a healthier lifestyle, and you can check what’s available this coming fall and the associated costs here.



College Nutrition #HealthyTigers

One out of every 25 college students are estimated to have special dietary needs of some kind, and 60 percent of college students are “food insecure,” meaning they lack resources to obtain nutritious food. We’re notorious for having poor diets (I wish the freshmen 15, 20 or even 30 was a joke), but there are a lot of resources to help us make better nutrition decisions. RIT Dining Services has a registered dietitian on staff, Mary Anne McQuay, and she is a great resource to talk to about nutrition and food choices, especially if you have a special dietary need (or suspect one!) or want to lose weight.

Fruit and vegetable variety.

McQuay says college students can be vulnerable to conditions like food insecurity due to lack of knowledge on healthy foods and the temptation of fried, fatty foods. People don’t always make the right choices when it comes to food, and as a dietitian, Mary Anne is someone to talk to about changing your food choices for the better. You can send her questions about healthy eating, food choices, ingredients used in foods served on campus, dietary needs due to medical reasons, family medical history, and/or food allergies, and general nutrition by using the online Smart Nutrition Feedback and Inquiry Form or by emailing her at mamfsa@rit.edu. You can also schedule a one-on-one appointment with her for personal nutrition counseling.

McQuay says there are changes being made across campus to promote healthier foods, from revamping recipes to providing more vegetable and fruit options. There are healthier snacks in a few vending machines, particularly the ones in the Student Life Center, and they plan on adding more within the next few semester. Each dining center is aiming to do their part and give students healthier options to pick and choose from. She thinks that all of the dining places on campus are doing their part in order to provide students with healthier food choices, and have made strides already in doing so. As some of the most popular dining options, Brick City, Crossroads, and Gracie’s have given a lot of effort in changing their menus. But remember— it’s your choice whether you grab a bag of chips or a piece of fruit. It all starts with a choice.


So what exactly is considered a healthy meal? Here’s a list of criteria, per serving, determined by the Partnership for a Healthier America:

  • Less than 700 calories
  • Less than 10 percent saturated fat
  • Zero trans fat
  • Less than 800 milligrams sodium

And a minimum of:

  • 2 oz lean meat, fish, poultry or legumes
  • 2 oz whole grain > 50 percent
  • 75 cup fruit or vegetable
  • 1 cup low-fat dairy

Simply learning about healthy foods first can put you on track to keep from gaining the freshmen 15 or even losing it! But better nutrition starts with you, and you’ve got to take those first few steps.


College Cooking — Corner Store Edition

Tasty veggie and egg Ramen

Eating in college can be tough. After a while, you may want to mix it up from the dining halls, and dorm cooking is kind of limited. It doesn’t have to be dull, though, nor does it have to be expensive! I’ll walk you through a really simple and fast recipe for some souped-up (ha) Ramen. The coolest part about this is that all the ingredients for this recipe can be found at RIT’s own Corner Store (located on the A level of Nathaniel Rochester Hall, across from the post office) and it costs about $5 for a meal for two.

You will need some cooking utensils that you can’t buy at the Corner Store, but which you can find at Wegmans or Wal-Mart (behind/around the corner from Wegmans), and for pretty low prices. You can get to those places either by asking a friend who has a car or by taking the RIT Weekend Shuttle.

What you’ll need:
Microwave safe bowl (for boiling water and cooking the Ramen)
Two smaller bowls (for serving, unless you want to save on dishes to wash and just eat out of the bowl you cooked everything in)
Microwave egg poacher (you can and should buy one of these for about $2 at Wal-Mart. Not only do you need it for this particular recipe, but I’m a fourth year and I still use mine, just saying.)
Cutting Board
Measuring cup
5 Sticks of celery
10 Baby carrots
2 Packages of Ramen Noodles (I used chicken flavor for this recipe)
2 Eggs

Now that you know what you need and have washed your hands (I assume you know to do that before working with food, after all, you’re an adult now), let’s get cracking. Well, not cracking quite yet; the eggs come later. First, we need to get chopping. For those readers who aren’t quite sure how to chop veggies, you want to hold the knife in whichever hand has the most control, use a smooth sliding motion from front to back, focusing around the middle of the knife (think of the circular motion of the bars that power the wheels of a locomotive, but running in reverse). The hand that isn’t holding the knife should be holding what you’re cutting, at least a half an inch in front of (ie. on the majority of the food to be cut) your knife, with your fingertips curled down, so you’re holding the food with your fingertips/nails. That way, if you get a little too close, you snag your nail and not your fingertip.

Chopped celery and carrots

Got that? I know that was a lot of logistics, but bear with me here.

After you’ve chopped the carrots and celery into ~1/4 to ~1/2 inch pieces, toss them in your microwave safe bowl and get your Ramen. Add the brick(s) of Ramen to your microwave safe bowl, along with your veggies, and add enough water to submerge the noodles. Microwave the noodles for three minutes on high. Take it out, add the seasoning packs (I used about 1 1/2 packets, because I wanted to taste the veggies and not just salt, but that’s my preference), and stir. Let the seasoned water sit with the noodles and veggies for a little while (the time it takes for the eggs to cook is sufficient) before draining some of the liquid off, so it’s not completely soup. If you really, really like it soupy, go ahead and leave it all in. Draining it is my personal recommendation.

After the Ramen has cooked, get out your egg poacher and follow the instructions that came with the cooker and make two eggs. Since it’s an egg poacher, you’re going to use water. I recommend using some of the seasoned water from the Ramen for some added flavor. Once the eggs are done, toss them on top of your Ramen and, voilà, dinner (or lunch or breakfast or second breakfast or Elevensies or whatever) is served! Feel free to add more veggies or eggs if you think you’re going to want more. I happen to be a small person with a small appetite. Think of other things you could throw in here, too, such as actual chicken (Wegmans and Wal-Mart both have rotisserie chickens, which are great to toss into Caesar salad mixes for a quick dinner; I recommend using the leg and wing meat for that and saving the breast meat for sandwiches, snacking or occasions such as this).

What it really comes down to is this: Cooking isn’t all that hard. With a little bit of practice and a pinch of ambition, anyone can become a cook. If you’d like some easy recipes to start out with, check out my personal blog. Please note that I’m not a registered dietitian, but if you’d like official advice on nutrition, you can contact Mary Anne McQuay, RIT Dining Services’ registered dietitian.

Food for Thought — A New Look for Bytes on the Run

Nestled between Artesano’s and the RIT Photo Store in Monroe Hall sits Bytes on the Run, RIT’s candy and convenience store. This summer, Bytes got a whole new look and now has more options than ever.

The best part? It’s more varied, less expensive, and more streamlined for busy students, faculty and staff than ever before – and they’re looking for your feedback on how to make it better.

Don LaFlam, Associate Director of Dining Services here at RIT, sat down with me to chat about Bytes on the Run’s new look. When I asked if Bytes has made a transition toward the more healthy side of the spectrum, LaFlam replied, “’Healthy’ is kind of a loaded word. We wanted to offer a wider variety of options, from chips and candy to healthier options, like protein bars and nut blends. The bars were a popular part of the old store and we wanted to expand on the variety, so we went with the largest variety the provider could give us.”

When you walked into Bytes before the makeover, you were met with a wall of expensive bulk candy, a dusty M&M display, and kind of a drab overall appearance. Now, the first thing you see when you walk in is a cooler display featuring fresh and microwavable grab-n-go meal options with everything from fruits, cheeses and salads to sandwiches, Indian dishes and even whole dill pickles. Beside that display is a wall of granola, trail mixes, chocolate covered goodies, protein bars, breakfast bars, cereal and microwavable meals to go.

Not in a granola or easy mac mood? Check the coolers on the back wall. Inside, you’ll find everything from Annie’s tortellini and lasagna (microwaveable, of course) to Hot Pockets and chimichangas. There’s something here for everyone, and that’s the idea.

Just looking for a snack? Grab a bag of chips or check out their extensive selection of dried meats – jerky of every imaginable variety, Slim Jims, and pre-wrapped sausages. Maybe your sweet tooth is calling, aching for the seemingly lost candy haven that this place once was. Never fear! Go toward the back, by the big bags of chips, 2-Liter sodas, and 4-packs of Monster, and you’ll find your once-bulk candy. It’s now measured out and prepackaged, but it costs less per ounce than it used to, and there’s a much wider selection than before.

Even if you’re not looking for food, Bytes on the Run now offers a selection of health and beauty aids, such as razors (if you’ve got a presentation in half an hour and not enough time to run home and trim up the stubble), Ibuprofen (for those rough days following your first gym workout of the season), batteries (because your calculator always has a 68% chance of dying five minutes into an exam) and Aleve (because, let’s face it – college is mostly a series of headaches, punctuated by the occasional vacation).

Finally, Bytes is now offering tastings to promote their new foods. On September 1, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Bytes will be giving samples in the Monroe Hall Lobby (in front of Artesano’s) of their Café Spice products, which include Indian and Latin style foods (they’re really good; I had the Chana Masala for lunch today, just to try it out). On September 10, also from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be samples of Rachel’s Fine Foods products, which include goodies such as meatballs and pasta, gnocchi with vodka sauce, chicken cordon bleu and overstuffed deli sandwiches.

So stop on in to Bytes on the Run. Check out all the sweet new stuff they have to offer, and, hey, if you don’t see something you want, let them know! The store’s selection is still evolving, and it’s up to you to shape it. Better yet? BTB was let in on a little secret – there’s been talk of expanding Bytes’ selection “beyond traditional retail.” But that’s all we’ve been told. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be in for a real treat in the near future.

Nerds on Wheels: A Guide to Biking at RIT

RIT is a big campus with lots of places to see, things to do and paths to explore. You can explore those things is by walking, longboarding, scootering or rollerblading around. Alternatively, you can join the herd of nerds on bikes!

Though the Quarter Mile is reserved for pedestrian traffic only – cyclists and longboarders will be ticketed – those of us with wheels have the option of our very own path that runs approximately adjacent to the Quarter Mile.

RIT’s bike path starts just past Res Halls A and B, where it branches from the Quarter Mile and swings down toward the woods – it can get a little slippery on the bike path at the bottom of that little hill, so take the turn carefully if it’s wet out. From there, the path wraps around the back of the August Center and the SAU and makes its next intersection in front of the Polisseni Center. There, you can continue straight on to Global Village or take a right up the path between the library and Monroe Hall to get to the Infinity Quad and nearby academic buildings. That’s how to get to class on a bike without using the Quarter Mile.

What if you don’t have a bike? No problem! You can rent one from RIT with a little bit of time and your student ID. Gauri and I did that earlier this summer; you can read about our adventures and the bike share program in our article here.

Now that you have a bike and are on the opposite side of campus from dorm sweet dorm, where do you park? RIT offers plenty of bike racks to choose from, and beyond that, it’s a measure of weighing convenience against the pretty much perpetual 60 percent chance of rain that surrounds living in Rochester. Most of the time, leaving your bike locked at an uncovered rack will be just fine. If it looks like a storm is moving in, look for a covered bike rack under some kind of cover.

Speaking of overnight storage, did you know that NRH has a sort of bike motel under its staircase? It’s a great place to safely store your bike for the winter, but I should warn you that it is not for the faint of heart. Come January that place is packed with bikes of every imaginable color and brand. They get layered in there, so if you care about bumps, scratches, potentially misaligned derailleurs or speedy removal, I would search for different lodging. I personally store my bike on the leeward side of my apartment, against a railing. It’s gotten a little rusty over the years, but it’s nothing a little spring tuneup can’t fix.

Don’t know how to service your own bike? No problem! There are plenty of great bike shops in the area. My personal recommendation is Pedaller’s Bike Shop, up on East Henrietta Road, near the intersection with Calkins (where the big, fancy Wegmans is). They’ll do a tune up for you, and, if Bob is in (he’s the owner) and you ask, he will show you how to do it yourself and show you what you’ll need to get the job done. If you’re working on a budget, he’s happy to help you get the most for your money.

One final word of advice, from one cyclist (and occasional pedestrian) to another: be courteous. I know that ripping around campus on your wheels is a ton of fun, believe me; I love how empty the campus can get during the summer. During the school year, though, stick to the bike path or the sidewalks along the road as much as possible. We don’t want students ending up at the health center because of crazy people speeding along the Quarter Mile. If you have to be on the Quarter Mile on your bike (maybe you’re walking and talking with friends), dismount and walk your bike. If you’re riding at night, make sure you have reflectors and/or a light on your bike.

Oh, and pedestrians? Just like cyclists should stay off the Quarter Mile, please don’t walk on the bike path. I’ve nearly been in and observed close-calls with pedestrians and cyclists on the bike path. For everyone’s safety, please don’t walk there (especially at night – never walk on there at night), or if you do, be alert and yield to traffic on wheels.