Best Post/Academic Perks
One of the great perks of working at UCLA has been the rotation of hip, tasty food trucks serving up lunch, which definitely beats whatever the regular food mall fare available at most campuses. Plus, there’s the advantage of having most of the best trucks come to campus, rather than having to chase ’em around town on Twitter. Thinking about a week of lunches that consists of “Great Food Truck Race” juggernaut Nom Nom, L.A. institution Canter’s, and my personal fave The Grilled Cheese Truck — mmm…a sandwich stuffed with mac’n’cheese and BBQ pulled pork!–got me thinking about what my favorite perks to campus life have been since I went to college. I’m sure I forgot a bunch of things, but here are some of my favorite examples of getting a little somethin’, somethin’ to make up for being a poor grad student.
Lifetime Learning Tax Credit: I think this deal started up around the time I began grad school in the late 1990s, though maybe I’m imagining that because I wasn’t aware of it before then? Anyhow, this always seemed to be too good of a deal, giving us grad students a nice tax credit on tuition. I won’t say any more–I’m scared of the IRS!–but, if you’ve gotten that little scrap of the 1098-T and used it, you probably know what I mean. Suffice it to say that everyone asked everyone else every early April about what to do with Tax Form 8863 because it seemed too good to be true! But as lit scholars, there was always a way to read the instructions to justify applying for the Lifetime Learning Credit, even when you weren’t quite sure if you really, really could.
More Post Academic innovations, after the jump…
Carpool Parking Pass: This is another example of making a good situation out of an unpleasant experience, parking in this case. After spending two hours in line to get my far-from-my-office, semi-expensive parking placard, not to mention four(!) hours waiting to do a mandatory in-person license renewal yesterday morning, I was really waxing nostalgic this past week for the carpool parking pass I had when I was teaching as a grad student. I was lucky to pay a cut-rate fee to get the best parking spaces all around campus. Now the one hitch was supposed to be the carpool aspect of it, which should’ve forced my roommate and me to work out some kind of confusing, complicated schedule that would work for both of us–but not so! The deal with the pass was that we both got a bonus pass of one-time use permits, which ended up being just enough for a whole quarter of teaching. Then again, do hamsters have to pay for parking in the first place?
Passport to Fun: What I was thinking about first, of course, was the online access that having a school ID grants you, from the basics like a .edu account to the information overload of geeky library databases and comped publication subscriptions you get just from being associated with a university. Then I realized that you can get a lot more than all those virtual goodies you could bunker down with, like a totally free, planned-for-you social life. You could totally nerd out from lots of interesting talks and lectures that go on on campus. Then there are probably some good performances, movie nights, and unpopular sports you could enjoy for free. And if those events aren’t so interesting, the student pub might have some kind of free beer promotion that the more frugal and alcohol tolerant of you could take full advantage of. If you do it right and know what to look for, it’s the entertainment version of freeloading that we talked about a while back.
Admittedly, some of these perks might be pretty location-specific, which means you now know what it’s like to be a grad student at UC Irvine, basically. What are some of the best freebies and gimmes you’ve gotten as a post/academic?