As the great Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Four years and a bachelor’s degree later I have found this to be absolutely true. One moment I was checking into Wallis Hall for SOAR and the next, listening for my name to walk across that stage.
Now I have begun my graduate school journey at UNC Charlotte and am working as a Marketing Communications Intern for Business and Auxiliary Services. In just the first week I have learned things that I wish I had known as an undergraduate. There were services I missed; little things that would have been good to know! So, please let me spare you this regret. While maybe not as profound as Obi Wan Kenobi bestowing knowledge of the Force upon Luke Skywalker, I do hope you'll find the following tips helpful.
Tip #1. Oh hey, ODA!
I would always see signs and a few things that would mention the term ODA but really had no idea what it meant. ODA means “Optional Dining Account” and it’s like a prepaid account for food. You (or someone who is benevolently subsiding your education) can place a deposit in this account for you to use at any campus dining location. Here's why it's awesome: this is a great account for students who commute and can't bear the thought of giving up their parking space to go get a meal, and for those whose class schedule is such that they eat on campus a just a few times a week. Anything you don't spend from you ODA account rolls over to subsequent semesters, as long as you're enrolled.
ODA is also great for on-campus residents. If/when the declining balance (DB) portion of your meal plan runs out (this happened to me many times) ODA can supplement your meal plan. How cool is that?! You wont' be deprived of enjoying Chick-fil-A, Bojangle's or Salsarita's goodness. And for deposits of $300 or $500, you’ll receive some free meal swipes good at Crown Commons and the brand new SoVi at South Village Crossing. But wait! There’s more! You will also get GreenBack reward dollars for every $100 you add to ODA. Smaller amounts can be deposited to ODA also, as little as $10.
Tip #2 “Hey Mom and Dad, I am kinda low on cash...so…”
What happens when you run out of money when you're down to your last pair of clean underwear or have a 20 page paper to print? That's when the 49er Account is your friend. Money can be deposited on your 49er Account (which, like ODA and your meal plan, resides on the 49er IDCard) to spend like a pre-paid debit account for campus goods and services such as: pay-for-print printers in the library and labs, laundry machines, Barnes & Noble at UNC Charlotte bookstore, vending machines, Campus Salon, NinerTech store, all the dining locations, convenience stores and concessions. 49er Account offers instant online deposits, and is good for budgeting since the account can't be overdrawn, doesn't incur fees and doesn't expire. You can deposit money on your account in increments as small as $5. Your parents/ benevolent supporters can add money to the account, too. All that's needed is your 800 number and last name when they go to make a deposit online. (http://cms71.uncc.edu)
Tip #3 - “Here’s the mail, it never fails…”
Usually during your time at UNC Charlotte moving becomes an annual event. Whether it's from one residence hall to another, from on-campus to on-campus, or off-campus to somewhere else off-campus, your address will change again and again! But did you know that you can maintain a consistent mailing address with a campus mail box from Mail and Package Services? You can! Campus mailboxes are private and conveniently located in either Prospector building or the Student Union. And they're cheap: a 6 Month lease is $25 total; a 12 Month lease is only $46. Even better, here's a coupon for $10 off your first lease.
Tip #4 - “Take a look...it’s in a book…”
I love books and even more so bookstores. What was that? Oh, what’s a book? Well kids, long ago we needed to read bound papers of information; sometimes we even read them for fun! Now that you're in college, you are going to get very acquainted with textbooks. Trust me on this, you'll need them and it will save you a lot of time and angst if you get them before classes start.
Barnes and Noble at UNC Charlotte is the official campus bookstore and located in the Student Union. You can conveniently order your books online, automatically choosing from your class schedule in 49er Express. The selection of 49er gear is the largest anywhere, so maybe even add some 49er apparel to that virtual sharing cart. One thing about the bookstore that many students don’t know is that Barnes and Noble will 100% price match textbooks to other local retailers. This can add to your savings and makes a convenient central location for you to purchase or rent your books. There are also eBook options.
Tip #5 - Forward to the Future!
You have so much to look forward to. The campus is growing at a rapid pace and one of the most exciting areas of growth is on the South side where the new South Village Crossing opens this fall. This amazing new dining/gathering complex is going to offer all kinds of food. SoVi dining will feature:
- an Asian station with a Teppanyaki grill (Japanese-style iron griddle),
- a Euro station with two Evo grills (round cook tops that offer a healthy cooking method and social interaction with the chef),
- an Italian area that will serve pasta, pizza and other favorites from two gas-fired ovens,
- a deli with hearth oven for toasted sandwiches and melts,
- an extensive salad bar where proteins can be ordered custom made and sizzling hot to top your leafy greens, and
- more choices than ever available for vegans, vegetarians and those with certain dietary preferences
SoVi will also have plentiful seating, and a seasonal dining terrace that will overlook Davis Lake. On the upper level you'll find:i
- SoVi2Go - a take-out area where meal swipes can be used for carry-out dining
- a bakery with visible operations and a confections counter
- "The Den," a a concept by Denny's with late night service
- comfortable student lounges with three-sided fireplaces and big TV screens
- a multi-use meeting/class room with AV
Plan to explore this beautiful new facility no matter where you are on campus! You can get a ride over to South Village on the CATS Campus Shuttle, or later in the evening, SafeRide can transport you there if you don't want to walk. (I'm glad I'm sticking around here for grad school so I can enjoy it!)
So please, future 49ers, know what's available and fully use the services that are provided for you. It's stuff you need that supports the bigger purpose of why you're here: to get an education and prepare for your future.
And, as John Keating said in Dead Poets Society, "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."
– Patrick Wisniewski
Patrick Wisniewski is spending the summer as Marketing Communications Intern for Business Services. After committing to memory every word in the Auxiliary Services Information Guide, he will be developing new media content for the 49erCard and Meal Plans, reprographics, Mail & Package Services, and Parking and Transportation Services.