How to Save Money during College

How to save money during college – Chrissy (3rd year Event Management)

Saving money is probably one of the hardest things to do, especially during college. Luckily, I have found some tips and tricks to make saving money easier.

  1. Textbooks – One easy way to save money is to not buy new textbooks. Textbooks are surprisingly expensive, but there are some things you can do to get them cheaper. One option would be to buy them used from the bookstore. Textbooks are also sold used on Kijiji and Facebook Buy and Sell groups. If you do end up buying textbooks brand new, the bookstore offers to buy back textbooks for up to 50% of the retail purchase price. Watch out for posters around the campuses stating when the buyback periods are.
  2. Eating out – During college, it is very hard to find time to cook homemade meals and takeout becomes a much faster option. If you did not know, you can actually load money onto your OneCard and use it as payment at the different restaurants in Conestoga and some select off campus locations. Not only that, but you also receive 5% off any non-branded item at Chartwells locations, Pita Pit, Pizza Pizza & The Venue during the Fall 2017 semester.
  3. CSI Health and Dental Plan – A lot of students do not realize that a health and dental plan is automatically included in their tuition. If you are already covered under another insurance, you can actually drop out of that plan and get your money back. That is a whole $286 for the full year return!
  4. Awards, grants, scholarships and bursaries – Conestoga offers so many awards that can help greatly with the price of tuition. A lot of the time, if you qualify for an award, you will need to write out an essay. Although this sounds like it might take a lot of time, it is worth it to take that time out of your day if you end up receiving the award. Check under the financial tab on Student Portal and Conestoga Student Inc.’s website under scholarships for all of the opportunities.

Hopefully some of these tips can help you save up money during your years at college as I know they have come in handy for me! The smarter you become about saving your money and finding some deals, the easier it will be to navigate college!


A STUDENT EXPERIENCE |Taylor Martin | Institut Paul Bocuse

Taylor Martin - Conestoga College Culinary Program Graduate - Institut Paul Bocuse
Taylor Martin – Conestoga College Culinary Program Graduate – Institut Paul Bocuse

Classic culinary training and inspiration with a dash of invaluable cultural education: that’s what Conestoga College culinary program graduate Taylor Martin says she took away from her 14-week term at the Institut Paul Bocuse in France this past year.

“I can take this experience, move forward and pay food the proper respect it deserves. I have a wider perspective now, and I think that means my standards for what I do in the kitchen are even higher,” says Martin.

Institut Paul Bocuse: sharing educational and culinary values
The Cambridge, Ont.,-born Martin was Conestoga’s first exchange student to the prestigious academic institute in Lyon. The College has signed an exclusive agreement with the Institut’s “Worldwide Alliance,” a global education network for the culinary arts and hospitality trades.

Founded in 2004, the Alliance connects institutions that share educational values and the common goal of promoting and developing the professions of culinary arts and hotel and restaurant management. Its 17 member institutions represent the world’s top hospitality management and culinary arts schools: Conestoga is the only Canadian member.

The 14-week program at the Institut included practical lessons in cookery, pastry and bread making techniques, restaurant service, and theory focused on French gastronomic history. Eventually, Conestoga culinary students will be able to study and work at Bocuse on a co-op term.

Institut Paul Bocuse | Worldwide Alliance - Conestoga College
Institut Paul Bocuse | Worldwide Alliance

Higher standards for food and cooking
Martin, 23, attended Cameron Heights Collegiate in Kitchener and currently works part-time in the kitchen at Cambridge Golf Club and as a line cook at Jake’s Grill and Oyster House in Burlington. She, along with her older twin brothers, grew up with parents who are good cooks. “I suppose I was exposed to higher standards for food and cooking growing up.”

Cooking, however, wasn’t her first choice. She started her post-secondary education in chemistry at McGill University before she made an important tack in her career direction. “I did some soul searching, and I kind of realized it was not what I wanted to be doing. I left McGill and took some time off to think, work and save some money to go back to school,” says Martin. With good food at home, the idea of cooking and working in kitchens came to her naturally and organically. “I realized I had been doing stuff in the kitchen helping out my parents since I was a little girl. I had always been interested in it and thought this is something I might want to do.”

So, Martin applied to several culinary programs and chose to go to Conestoga. “I wanted to stay local, and I had heard good things about the program.” Her first professional kitchen experience was as a co-op student where she was placed at Cambridge Golf Club. While she admits an interest in the pastry arts, she says she is also intrigued by molecular gastronomy, perhaps not unexpectedly given her strength in chemistry. “I’m really interested in it. I have a little kit at home, and I play around.”

Cultural and industry perspective
Otherwise, her interests around food are wide ranging. She says that what attracted her to the Bocuse term, in part, was the opportunity to travel and learn about a different part of the world – through the lens of food and cooking. “Especially in the food industry, I think that is so important,” Martin says. “In Canada, we have a mix of cultures from around the world, but I also wanted to see European culture first hand. The approach to food is different.”

She describes Lyon as a big city that doesn’t feel big. “Everything felt close and homey, and it was easy to immerse yourself in the city. For the food culture, at least in the old city, I was surprised to find what a balance there was of traditional Lyonnaise food and across the river multicultural foods as far as you could see.”

Her student residence, where breakfast was served, was a few minutes from the classrooms. “That was dishes like hard-boiled eggs, cheese, ham, croissants, pain au chocolat and fruit salad,” Martin says. Class schedules differed each week, both the theory and practical training. Though she did have some previous comfort in speaking French, she says her language skills improved immensely during the term. “Depending on which instructors you got, they might speak more or less English,” she says. “There was often an odd Franglish going on too.”

Martin says the classes were similar to Conestoga but with different ingredients and techniques for meat, fish and vegetables, as well as learning about dishes from the Medieval era. “We did some of Paul Bocuse’s recipes, too. The cooking in Lyon is different from that in other parts of France,” she adds. One week of the placement was in large part dedicated to wines and vinology, including a field trip to the vineyards of Burgundy. “It was absolutely beautiful.”

Students did service in the restaurant too and took a one-week placement at a restaurant downtown near Place Bellecour, one of Europe’s largest public squares and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “The restaurant was a great experience, especially with learning more of the language,” Martin says.

Institut Paul Bocuse - Conestoga College Culinary Program
Institut Paul Bocuse – Conestoga College Culinary Program

Learning about the world through food and cooking
As for the cost of living, she describes Lyon as more expensive than Waterloo Region but not as expensive as Vancouver; the cultural value was priceless. “This experience taught me a lot about different cultures with 13 countries represented there. It was a good way to see how people live and how it translates into what they eat through demonstrations of their cooking.”

For now, Martin is working and saving money for her next career step. “I’d like to study for my Red Seal eventually,” she says and admits to an entrepreneurial spirit. “I’d like to own my own place one day, whether that is a restaurant or a different business within the food industry, such as catering or private chef. I want to do something where I cook and create food and dishes for people.”

Martin’s advice to culinary students considering heading to Institut Paul Bocuse?  “Go if you know that you are dedicated. If you’re not, it will show in your work and you won’t get the full experience out of it. Go with an open mind,” she stresses. “And sharp knives.”

If you are thinking about culinary as a career option then find out more info about Chef Training at Conestoga College here 

Why Conestoga and PR Was the Right Choice for Me…

Conestoga College - Jasmine Marinelli
Jasmine – 1st year Public Relations student at Conestoga College

My whole entire life I have grown up around media. I would sit at the kitchen table and listen to my Mom read over articles in the newspaper, and curse about certain ad’s not being in the right place. My Mom worked as the circulation sales manager for the Waterloo Region Record for about 13 years. That was not only her life but mine as well. I grew up wanting to do exactly what my mom does, and I grew up wanting to be exactly like her, because she was and still to this day is my idol.

Before I decided to go to Conestoga I wanted to make sure that public relations was the right program for me. I had to consider all options. Marketing was my first choice, then something regarding human resources and then I looked at some public relation courses. I examined and inspected every university program that had to do with something similar to Public Relations, but just decided I wasn’t a university kind of girl. I wanted an education where I would be given hands-on experiences. Where I was able to have more than just a 5-minute conversation with my prof, and where my prof actually knew my name.

University and college are two completely different types of schooling. I was the only one out of my friend group to go to college. I’ve been at Conestoga for almost two months now and I have come to the conclusion that college is very underrated. I knew from the beginning I would get a bit of slack from my friends the minute I accepted my offer to Conestoga. I got a lot of Why didn’t you choose Guelph? Or Why are you going to college? But I was never ashamed of choosing Conestoga over any university I could have gone to.

College gives you so many options it’s unbelievable. Instead of sitting at the back of a lecture room alongside 1000 other students, I’m sitting in a classroom with about 22-25 students. And guess what? I’m going to graduate in 4 years with a degree under my belt, as well as 3 co-op work terms. For half the price I would pay if I were in university. Now, I’m not bashing university at all. I’m simply just stating how amazing Conestoga is and their options for post-secondary schooling are. The minute I heard I would be getting a degree as well as the opportunity to complete co-op I was ecstatic.

At Conestoga we have a great gym, phenomenal support and staff, as well as great programs for anyone and everyone to join. And the opportunities at Conestoga College are endless.

I know it’s around the time for grade 12s to start looking at post-secondary options and I would vouch for Conestoga any day. Not only for my program but for a lot of others too… Conestoga is a great choice. Just a piece of advice to those future students… Do some research, you never know where or what program you’ll choice. It’s a big decision but feel free to visit the Conestoga College website and look up some programs you’d be interested in!

Find out more about the Bachelor of Public Relations program 

Why you should attend the Leadership Conference

CSI Shirt Photo
Why you should attend the Leadership Conference – Chrissy

I am sure you have heard about Conestoga Student Inc.’s Leadership Conference before. When the event starts creeping up on the calendar, information can be found all over Conestoga College. The Leadership Conference is a two day conference that is held annually during the fall semester. Students are invited to evolve their leadership skills in fun and interactive ways. Although you might feel like you have heard everything about the leadership conference and that it will not be beneficial for you, trust me, it is a great experience that everyone should try at least once. Let me tell you why:

  1. The speakers are incredible – seriously

Everyone always says that the speakers are amazing and life changing, but genuinely, they really are. Delatorro McNeal and James Robilotta have been attending the Leadership Conference for the past few years and I can honestly say their sessions helped me think of leadership differently. James Robilotta actually had just released a new book the year I went and provided all the students with a free copy. Not only were his sessions eye opening, his book was incredibly personal and thought provoking. Delatorro has a way with crowds that I have never experienced with another speaker before. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience to hear them speak.

  1. The activities challenge you and are interactive

The year I went, we had an activity where we had to get through a desert with a team of people we had just met. Each person had a role and a goal of getting through the desert. We were given a certain amount of fake money and had limited time to make decisions. It inspired me to become a leader and sparked something in myself that I had never seen before. Delatorro’s personal and heart-warming activities had me crying more than I would like to admit. Not only was it great for learning how to be a better leader, it was an incredible connecting experience with a bunch of people I had never met before. The conference was worth it just for that activity.

  1. CCR Recognition, official certificate and great food

For attending the conference you receive CCR (Co-Curricular Record) recognition, an official certificate for your professional portfolio and the conference features delicious meals and snacks. The CCR is a great way to show employers how you were involved during your school years. It also shows the skills and personal growth areas students gain as a result of their co-curricular efforts. Professionals actually love to see official certificates that you have gained during your education because it shows that you went above and beyond what you are required to do and leadership is incredibly important in any job position. Lastly, the conference had a breakfast, lunch and two snacks each day and are always super delightful.

I truly hope that this post changes your mind if you were thinking about not attending the Leadership Conference. It really is a great event, even if you only try it once. Trust me, you will get your money’s worth.

Students can buy tickets at their CSI Service Hub for $30 and the conference is October 14th and 15th


A Week Full of “Firsts” – Jasmine

A Week Full of “Firsts”
Jasmine – 1st year Public Relations student at Conestoga College

This past week for me has been full of stress, anxiety and a lot of running around. I experienced a lot of firsts this week; my very first assignment was due, a formal test and an essay assignment.  I’ve finally surpassed a milestone in my college career and boy was it ever tough. I officially was able to learn what time management skills were and let me tell you that is something I definitely need to get better at.

My first assignment was given to me about last week, it was to re-design a Department of Finance Canada document to make it more appealing to a potential client. This was definitely one of the most interesting and rather fun assignments I’ve ever had to do. It took me five tries, five hours and five days to complete which is a relatively long time. I consider myself a perfectionist when it comes to assignments so I knew going into it that it would probably take me twice as long as the average student to finish. If you are someone like me that leaves things to the last minute because you’re lazy, or suffer from procrastination then you have got to get out of that habit in order to succeed in college. And recognizing that early is what will help you.

Last week in my business management course, we were told that we would be having our first test the following week, and we only had one class to review some of the material. As I sat in the class during review time, reading the list of content to study I came to the conclusion that it is basically every single chapter we have read. This caused me a lot of stress because in high school things were more direct, I knew exactly what to study and what the layout of the test would be. I tried my best to study every night but I felt a bit overwhelmed with everything being due roughly around the same time. We were all required to download a software that locks your computers during a test. Which is actually pretty cool because I’ve never wrote a test on a computer before. Hopefully I did well considering the test was worth %15 of my whole grade.

Lastly, my first essay… I never liked writing essays back in high school and I can tell you now it definitely won’t be my favourite part of college lol. The essay’s in college are really complicated and more work than what it was like in high school. I have started my introduction so far and I’m already stumped on what else to write. Luckily, we have many resources that can help with writing an essay, we have a peer editing class next week which is pretty cool considering in high school – at least mine – the teachers never gave us that class time. But, wish me luck because this is also worth a significant amount of mark.

A piece of advice to those going into post-secondary… read all of the chapters assigned to you, take notes in class and take notes during your readings, it will help you a lot when it comes time to study for a test or an exam. Also, if you need help or are experiencing lots of stress talk to your teachers they are great outlets and will help you a lot along the way. Make sure you take every assignment, test or presentation seriously and try your best because it’s not like high school good marks don’t come easily, you have to work hard for it. As well as a majority of things due are worth a large portion of your mark so they matter a lot.

Good luck to everyone in school and I will let you know further about some of the more exciting things I have experienced at Conestoga on my next blog… C ya 😊

The Top 6 Things I wish I knew about Conestoga College before I started

CSI Shirt PhotoThere are a few things I wish I knew before starting at Conestoga College that would have made me feel a little bit more prepared. Here is my list for you to read so that you hopefully have more knowledge than the average College go-er!

  1. How many Work Study positions there are – There are so many job positions across Conestoga College that I did not realize in my first year. Conestoga Students Inc., is a very popular one for students wanting to get extra money throughout the year that I definitely recommend.
  2. MyCareer – Speaking of jobs, I wish I knew about MyCareer before starting Conestoga College. If you do not know, MyCareer is Conestoga’s career portal. They post a ton of job postings and career related events on the student tool. I believe Alumni’s can use it as well! I have found some of my jobs through MyCareer and I did not even realize it existed till my second year! Definitely stay updated on MyCareer.
  3. Recreation Centre Programs – When I first started Conestoga College, I though intramurals were the only options regarding fitness, but the Recreation Centre actually offers a lot more than just that. They have fitness classes such as Zumba, yoga, cycle and more and fitness related events such as Hoops for Halloween, fitness challenges and Yoga on the Lawn.
  4. Location, location, location – I really wish that I had visited Conestoga more than once before I had to start full time studies. My very first day I made it to class with one minute to spare because I was so lost. I highly encourage practicing finding your parking location or bus routes before the first day. Also, go into the college before the first day and find all of your classes. This will help you tremendously, trust me.
  5. How much is included in the CSI Health Plan – During my first two years, I decided to opt out of the CSI Health Plan because I thought I was covered under my parent’s coverage. Turns out, I was not covered and needed the CSI Health Plan, but once you opt out, you cannot opt back in until you start a new program. (At least, that is what I was told, it might have changed, but I am not a 100% sure. If you have any questions about the health plan, definitely ask the incredible team at CSI). I also did not even realize that travel insurance is included in the health plan! This is incredibly useful if you are planning a study week trip!
  6. Food Options – While you are practicing the bus routes and finding your classes, check out the different food options that Conestoga offers. I always would try to bring a lunch as much as possible to try to save money, but Conestoga has a lot of delicious options and can actually end up saving you money with your One Card.