School Days: Your Guide for a Boss Year 

Be in the know to be the big man on campus

So, you want to be the big man--or woman--on campus this year. Well, that's going to take a lot of time and dedication because, let's admit it, it ain't easy being a crazy college kid these days. Between sock hops and socials, there's hardly time for guys and gals to hit the books before that hard-nosed professor is threatening a pop quiz.

But with a little guidance, every student can be on the stick. That's right, no one will think you're a total spaz when you know where to go, how to get there and what's the lowdown.

Boise Weekly is here to offer a little gentle guidance with a few dos and don'ts. Learn some handy lessons from your imaginary peers before you get in over your head, and soon all your friends will think you're one hep cat.

—Deanna Darr

Brad Gets a Smartphone: Smart apps and websites for the A+ student

Meet Brad. Brad is a new college student who's just moved to Boise from out of state. Brad's an average everyday student--he's outgoing, enthusiastic and keeps up to date with technology and trends. He has a smartphone that never leaves his side, along with a laptop for serious schoolwork.

Brad wakes up in the morning and checks his to-do list and schedule via the Remember The Milk app on his smartphone( It's a pretty busy day today for Brad--a lecture in the morning, an exam in the early afternoon and a first draft of an essay due afterward. Then tonight he's supposed to meet up with some new friends downtown for appetizers and drinks. Brad's roommate, Glenn, also has a busy day. He can't quite remember what his schedule is, though. He must have written it down somewhere...

Brad heads to the lecture, where he takes notes on his laptop with Evernote (, which also syncs to his smartphone app. Glenn arrives 10 minutes late and scribbles his notes into a torn notebook, somewhere between his calculus notes and to-do list for last Thursday.

After the lecture Brad does some last-minute flashcard revision for his exam via StudyBlue ( Glenn tries to do the same, but the study lab is full. He instead goes over his notes, but after finding the right scrap of paper, he can barely read his own handwriting.

Brad returns home to type up his essay, using the notes from the lecture earlier. Purdue's OWL site ( helps him with proper formatting and citations. He creates a bibliography by scanning the barcodes of his books with his EasyBib app (, by the way, that he managed to find cheap online via Once he's done, he backs up the essay onto his Dropbox cloud storage ( and emails it off to his professor. Glenn writes up his essay once he manages to sort out his notes. He struggles trying to remember all the necessary formatting and citations. Horror of horrors, his computer crashes just after he finishes. It's all gone, every word of it.

Brad's worked up quite a hunger after all that; but, as is the norm with student living, his pantry is virtually bare. Just a few sparse ingredients that he puts into his Big Oven app ( generate a decent recipe for him. Tonight it's a bacon and corn risotto. Glenn looks at him enviously over his bowl of Top Ramen.

Of course, all work and no play makes Brad a dull boy. Even though he's new to town, he knows exactly where to go for the best happy hour deals, thanks to his Cocktail Compass app ( He arranges to meet his friends at a bar that's also a venue featured on his BW Smartcard app (, saving him even more money. Useful, as tomorrow he'll have to head to the grocery store to restock the pantry using his Grocery IQ list ( Glenn, meanwhile, is still back at the dorm, typing up his essay for the second time.

—Chris Grapes

Rules of the Road: Mary, Judy and Buddy get a transit lesson

You want to go to school, but you're not sure how best to get yourself there? Coming up with a convenient transportation plan is sure to ease your path to higher education.

It's a lesson Mary and Judy know well, but that Buddy could use some work on.

Mary lives close to campus and is able to use her bicycle not only to get to campus, but also between classes once she's there. Mary thinks the additional $100,000-worth of new bike racks installed on campus over the summer are keen.

J.C. Porter, assistant director for transportation and parking at Boise State University, agrees, adding that 20 percent of students ride bikes to campus, and parking those bikes hasn't always been so peachy.

In fact, so many students think bike riding is swell, that the university doubled the number of bikes it rents out for the year or semester, now offering 50 cruisers for students to use. Mary thinks the school's Cycling Learning Center in the Lincoln Garage--where she can get a bike tire fixed or have a tuneup done--is the very most.

When Mary has questions about getting around, or how to use the bike lockers inside the parking garages, she heads straight for the transit center in its new home in the Student Union.

But sometimes the snow is flying or Mary needs to get her project to the science fair, and her bike isn't an option. Still, Mary doesn't get her knee socks in a twist. She turns to the city's bus system, where her student ID gets her a free ride.

Unlike Mary, both Judy and Buddy depend on their cars to get around, but parking on campus means planning ahead. Parking spaces are at a premium, and Porter said the university lost between 50 and 60 spaces when the new recreation field was put in.

While that puts the varsity players over the moon, it means drivers like Judy and Buddy need to know the program.

Buddy plays fast and loose with parking. He's a rebel and doesn't think he needs a parking pass for his wheels. Buddy leaves it to chance to find a spot.

Judy buys a reserved parking permit for one of the parking structures on campus for $320 a year so she knows she'll always have a spot waiting for her. If those sell out, she can pony up for a $118 general parking permit, meaning she can park on campus if she can find a spot.

When Judy is parking near the bake sale, Buddy is still cruising in Nowheresville, looking for a space to park his beater. By the time Judy is ready to head to the malt shop, Buddy has finally found an open spot and is turning out his pockets for the $1.50 per hour charge.

Judy even gets a gold star for buying her parking permit online at way all the with-it kids do.

Or as Porter says, "pay online, avoid the line."

—Deanna Darr

Billy Loses His Bike: Crime happens

Billy didn't think it would happen to him. He cruised up to the bike rack, hung up his helmet and bopped to class, but when he returned, someone had stolen his ride. What began as a boss day had turned into a downer: How would Billy get to his next class, let alone back to his pad?

Boise State is bike friendly and becoming more so. In 2012 it was honored in the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly Universities program. But Billy just learned that maintaining Boise State's bike friendliness--and sparing himself anguish and long walks--means securing his goods against theft.

According to the Boise Police Department, the theft of small, portable items, including bikes, is a perennial challenge to universities and their surrounding neighborhoods. According to BPD, between Aug. 1, 2012, and May 31, 2013--the heart of the Boise State academic year--61 bikes were reported stolen.

Had Billy attended to the safety of his stuff, a bike thief wouldn't be harvesting his sole mode of transportation for parts. What's a poor student to do? BPD has a number of tips to help discourage bike theft and get stolen property back at the BPD website (

First, Billy should have selected an appropriate bike lock. BPD recommends U-locks--rigid steel locks that clamp shut with a metal crossbar--because of their strength and resistance to the grab-and-go methods of bike thieves.

"It's not as easily defeated, it's a thicker metal--it's also pretty easy to connect a bike to whatever bike rack is available," said Lt. Tony Plott.

"Cable locks are not the preferred method of locking your bike," he added.

After selecting a bike lock, Billy should know more about other resources available to bike owners to make it easy for the police to identify stolen bikes in the event of theft. Had Billy registered his ride with the police, he may have been able to recover his property.

"Registration is a simple and easy process. Help us help you keep your property safe," said Lt. Plott.

But Billy shouldn't drown his woes by going on a bender and getting wild. According to a 2011 Boise State survey, nonconsensual sexual touching was reported by 3.6 percent of respondents and stalking was reported by 6.5 percent of respondents.

Fortunately Billy's parents raised him right. Billy knows to always be hip to what's happening around him.

"Being informed and alert to suspicious activity is a key component to public safety," said Lt. Plott.

Billy's parents might still worry that drinking is common at Boise State, but just 11.4 percent of students report boozing 10-29 days per month and 45.4 percent of students reported drinking one to nine days per month.

According to the BPD, underage drinking is a priority for enforcement.

Billy's parents can feel a little more secure knowing that more police will be around at large on-campus gatherings. In the wake of national tragedies like those at Sandy Hook Elementary and the Boston Marathon, BPD and Boise State campus security are taking special steps to ensure the safety of students and the public.

Now that Billy knows how to keep himself and his property safe at Boise State, he'll be cool as a cucumber.

—Harrison Berry

Building and Growing: Julia and James find big changes on campus

Julia, a Boise State sophomore, is a good student. She has things all figured out--she'll ride her bright beach cruiser when she returns to campus, Monday, Aug. 26. James, however, a first year business major living in Chaffee Hall, could use a little help. While James recently picked up a bike, he's been narrowly dodging pedestrians on campus.

On details big and small, staff are working to build a better environment for students. Campus Planning and Facilities Department staff work on anywhere from 80-100 projects at a time--from the big-time COBE Building to the placement of shiny new bike racks.

Dave Cooper, interim director of Architectural and Engineering Services at Boise State, said officials are trying to point students toward a new bike route along Cesar Chavez Lane, a route with access for students on two-wheeled steeds.

"The intent of that bike route is to give bicycles a quick route through campus, but out on the periphery of the quad," said Cooper.

Students should notice new access points near Theater Lane and the Interactive Learning Center, said Cooper. New dedicated paths are designed to help students visit Boise State with or without a car.

"We're trying to reduce the university's impact, from a carbon footprint standpoint," said David Smith, the new associate vice president of Campus Planning and Facilities.

"The more bicycles and pedestrians you have on campus, the less impact that you have on the carbon footprint," he added.

Guys and gals will also find a revamped place to eat and cram for classes. Extensive renovations to the student lounge on the first floor of the Student Union include a redesigned seating area, including new carpet, according to Cooper.

"It's probably been 10 to 12 years since we've done an overhaul to that area," he said.

Julia, a biology major, will also notice a makeover of classrooms in the mathematics building. The Math Learning Center--formerly housed at 1406 Chrisway Drive--is now in a new space just down the hall from her classes.

"If you were a biology student, you would notice some changes immediately," said Cooper.

"We're opening a number of new classrooms over there, and we've had a major renovation of that building," he said.

Officials are also planning for a huge new Fine Arts Building for right-brained Broncos.

While shovels won't turn for some time, plans call for approximately four stories and 100,000 square feet of steel and glass, and once built, the facility will house the university's Art Department and Arts and Humanities Institute. Boise State is requesting $15 million from the Legislature to help pay for the project.

"Until the Legislature passes it, and the governor signs it, it doesn't exist," said Smith.

Across campus, Smith hopes students will note attention to detail, including landscaping. James, however, doesn't pay much attention to the school's greenery. James plays disc golf on the newly rehabilitated Intramural Field, adjacent to the Student Union Building. But he finds himself mowed down by not only Boise State football players, but a tongue-lashing from Coach Chris Petersen.

Boise State's Broncos will practice their plays on the grassy field, during fall camp through September. But the Broncos' use of the Intramural Field is only temporary, according to university officials.

Buildings that formerly housed the university's Diesel Technology, Applied Technology and Mechanical Technology programs on Bronco Circle will be bulldozed to make way for the new grass field.

"They'll be replaced with a new grass practice field for intercollegiate athletics, and there will most likely be some sand volleyball courts associated with that. It'll be shared use between athletics and intramurals," Cooper said.

James regularly plays fast-paced bouts of quidditch and flag football with his fellow Boise State students. After lacing up his tennis shoes, James and his teammates tromp across the newly opened Recreation Turf Field--freshly striped and lined with bleachers--at the corner of University Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue.

When Julia and James both step into Bronco Stadium this fall, they'll notice not only the newly completed Gene Bleymaier Football Complex--the new home for Boise State football coaches, players and staff--but a 60-foot by 33-foot video screen atop the building. It's perfect for the first big home game.

—Andrew Crisp

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