By Alex del Tufo

Transitioning to college is an overwhelming process, but there are a few “hacks” to the BU system that can make the experience smoother. Even if you’ve been at BU a year or two already, maybe there’s still some tricks to learn. Some may refer to these hacks as “cheating” the system, but I like to think of it more as taking full advantage of every dollar we pay to this fine institution.

      1. Switch from the 330 to the 220 meal plan

This is one of BU’s best known tricks, but if you haven’t heard it, it’s worth it. This one is for those of us who are suckers for the Basho Express and Starbucks in the GSU, but don’t find ourselves in the dining hall three times a day. The key is to start off the semester with the 330 meal plan and, while saving up swipes, switch to the 220 about halfway through. The transition will then switch extra swipes into more dining points. There’s more specifics to the trick, but this will typically result in anywhere from a couple hundred more points to almost a thousand.

      2. Gender-neutral housing

I will start off with a PSA: Gender neutral housing is simply not gender “neutral,” but co-ed. BU is — sadly — not ignoring gender constructs or respecting those who identify differently than the gender on their BU accounts. This is simply for people who are identified as men and women in BU’s system who want to live together. However, take advantage where you can. If you and a friend of the opposite gender in the system are interested in housing together, you will have access to housing prior to other students and will likely be able to score a much better location than those who do not go gender neutral.

      3. Bring plastic containers to the dining hall

Be subtle, but why not put your microfridge to good use?

      4. Domino’s 50 percent off code (with dining points)

Domino’s takes dining points — not convenience points, dining points. And even better, there’s a promo code (RHETT) for students living on campus to get half-off their order. They deliver late into the night and you don’t even need to spend real money.

      5. Use your credits to your advantage

If you came into college with a few AP or IB credits, see if you can place into the grade level above you. This helps with getting a better lottery number when housing time comes around and can eventually help with graduating early.

      6. Don’t buy your textbooks until you see them on the syllabus

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought $100+ textbooks that I’ve never opened. Whether you can simply survive the class without it or your professor just never mentions the book, my rule of thumb is to not buy until I see what chapters I’ll be reading in the coming weeks. It’s gotten me into a couple panicked last minute Barnes and Noble runs, but the money saved is well worth it.