Last-Minute and Cheap Gift Ideas

So, you messed up.

You either waited too long to shop or order something online or spent all your holiday money already or that gift exchange you signed up for is literally tomorrow. The point is, you need to get something for someone. You need to get it fast and you need to get it cheap. Fortunately for you, help has arrived.

Handmade Mug

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Channel your inner second-grader with some handmade drinkware. I actually did this earlier this month as part of a group activity. While I didn’t actually end up making one as a gift, a lot of my friends did. Basically, you get some of these oil-paint sharpie markers and a blank white mug (this one is $3 and available at Bakersfield WScreen Shot 2015-12-23 at 2.16.52 PMalmarts, but I’m sure the dollar store has them too). Then, you decorate it however you want to! Or, as many of my friends ended up doing— you can rip off get inspiration from other people’s ideas on Pinterest. Then, you let it dry overnight. Finally, you “bake” it in the oven at 350°F for 30 minutes….and there you have it! You have a cheap last-minute gift that seems so special and heartfelt that the other person won’t even think it was last-minute!


Scented Candles

CandlesAlright, listen up. It’s okay if you totally spaced on buying your mom/other-important-lady-in-your-life a christmas present. I’ll level you— It’s happened to me. No judgements. Sometimes you’re just busy. BUT, it is not okay if you don’t get her anything at all. Now, everyone is different of course. You can’t just generalize people based on their ages and genders. But in my personal experiences, moms/aunts/grandmas/other-special-gals LOVE candles. I mean, seriously— what’s not to love? If I cared more, I’d probably have candles around my place too. They smell great, they’re fun, they create some nice mood lighting. Seriously, candles are awesome. Lucky for you, they can be pretty inexpensive. Bath and Body Works has a sale on their really nice winter-themed candles right now for $12.50. You can probably find some that are even cheaper at HomeGoods or a store like Target or Walmart, too.

Christmas Tree Ornament

The classic cheap low-pressure “I thought of you” christmas gift. The great thing about this is that so many people are really into the whole christmas tree thing that this can be a pretty exciting gift. Also, it serves as a general gift to the whole household. Cha-ching. You have two options here— 1. Make your own DIY-style, or 2. Buy one.

I’m not a very “crafty” person myself, so I would peScreen Shot 2015-12-23 at 3.01.20 PMrsonally go with number two. Especially because they make so many cool pop-culture themed ornaments these days. Your giftee a star wars fan? Get her a Darth Vader or BB-8 one. They a Frozen freak? You got an Olaf ornament for ’em. They even have THE DINOSAUR FROM THE NEW JURASSIC PARK MOVIE. There are literally tons of super cool ornaments. I would not mind one bit receiving these as gifts.


Framed Photograph

Now, this is something a parent, significant other, or BFF can all enjoy. Nothing is a sweeter gift than a picture of the two of you together in a nice frame. Especially these days, with digital photography being how we take and share pictures the most, a printed photograph can really be7c5fc7f4117ea37966095c528a306d3b special. You can print the picture yourself with a decent printer and some photo paper— or, if you don’t have that option, you can find a photo kiosk in Rite Aid or visit FedEx Office to have one printed. Frames are relatively cheap, I’ve even seem some nice-looking ones at Dollar Tree. Maybe add some personal touches like decorations on the edges of the frame and VIOLA! A truly touching gift that the other person can treasure. Again, Pinterest appears to be a good source of inspiration for this sort of thing. Here’s a really cool one I found that uses smaller printed pictures as the frame decoration.


Winter Accessories

While Bakersfield winters aren’t too bad, things can still get pretty chilly. Now, this may be an unnecessary thing to bring up as I’m sure it’s probablyScreen Shot 2015-12-23 at 6.56.09 PM a common-sense gift idea, but I thought I would anyway. I know a lot of people who don’t really like buying themselves things to be more comfortable, because they’d rather “deal with it” than spend the money. So, it introduces a great opportunity to give as a gift! Scarves, hats, and gloves are available at all price points and for all genders and tastes! Something that would be a very cool gift in this category is (you’ll never guess it)…SOCKS!

I know, I know. It’s the stereotypical joke about a “bad present” but hear me out— there are a LOT of cool socks out there. I personally bought these on the left here for myself. They have bells on them. They are seriously dope as heck.


Gift Cards

A selection of gift cards in a store in New York on Wednesday, November 2, 2011. (© Richard B. Levine)

So, this is the last one on the list for a reason. While gift cards are pretty easy, quick and cheap (usually the smallest amount seems to be about $15) they’re also pretty low-scoring in the “thoughtfulness” category. Gift cards are a good choice for someone you aren’t that close to, or someone who really doesn’t care (I know my brother would personally probably LOVE a gift card to Best Buy or Gamestop or something). You can spruce it up by buying some dollar wrapping paper and  wrapping it up— some places even give you boxes for the cards during the holidays!


Well, I hope this list was useful (or at least entertaining). I hope you all have a Happy Holiday and a relaxing Winter Break! Talk to you soon, Renegades!





Best Free Trials and Deals for Students

Hello, Renegades!

I hope you’re all having a great week. Thanksgiving was this past weekend, which meant a long weekend, food, and friends/family! I know I had a great time. (Though the scale probably won’t…)

It also means that the Winter Holidays are here! I know that a lot of people have a lot of expenses during this period of time (gifts, travel, etc). So, I thought it was the perfect time for me to come out with this article I’ve been thinking about for a little bit.

There are a lot of services and websites that have trials that can be really beneficial, especially for students. There are also a lot of services and websites that have special pricing when you use your student email.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with any of these services, products or websites. Any and all codes given are the default offer codes given by the website, I am not receiving any referral incentives from any of them. 

So, without further adieu—


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There are a number of classes that assign novels as part of the curriculum. I’ve personally had to read novels for an Intro to Biology course (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) and a Philosophy class (multiple books related to art) . Sometimes, devoting all my time to reading a book just isn’t feasible (or ideal). That’s where the beauty of audiobooks really shines. You can listen to them when driving, doing chores, working out, etc. is a website owned by Amazon that works as a sort-of “Netflix of audiobooks”. You pay a monthly subscription and in turn receive credits for downloading audiobooks. As a new subscriber, you receive a FREE 30 Day Trial— what this means is that you get one free credit that you can use to download any audiobook in their catalog (some of the audiobooks cost upwards of $40!). Even if you cancel your trial before the 30 days, you get to keep the book! (They also offer you 3 months for $8/month when you cancel, which I actually agreed to).


Amazon Prime Student


Oh, Amazon. What a love-hate relationship we have. I love you for your good prices, great selection, and super-fast shipping. But I hate you because you make impulse online shopping so easy (and in turn, my bank account goes down!)

Amazon truly is a great place to buy things, especially for students. They have great prices on textbooks (and even rent them!). I pretty much only buy my electronics, books, accessories and (yes, really) shoes from them. With Prime, you get free TWO DAY shipping on things sold by Amazon and their partners. You also get access to their TV and movie streaming service, which is like Netflix except they have exclusives from partners such as HBO and their own Amazon Studios content.

Amazon Prime Student gives you a FREE 6-month trial of Amazon Prime, after which you can sign up for a year of Prime at a FIFTY PERCENT discount off regular price ($50/year vs $100). All you need is your .edu BC email address!


Apple Music

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Apple’s new streaming service launched this summer, and was one of the two reasons Apple purchased Beats for $3 Billion last year. It has about any song you’d want (including Taylor Swift, which no other streaming service does) as well as music videos (Hotline Bling’s viral meme-bearing music video was released exclusively on Apple Music). They have a 24-hour commercial-free radio station called Beats 1, and have a LOT of curated playlists that become better recommendations the more you rate songs. My favorite thing about it is that it integrates Siri voice control, so I can tell Siri “Play ‘Zombies’ by The Cranberries” and she does it.

Apple Music is available on all Apple products (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV) as well as any computer that runs iTunes (yes, including Windows PCs). They even have a beta app for Android! It includes a free 3-month trial for new users. Afterwards, it is $9.99 a month.


Unfortunately, they do not have a student discount. However, our next entry does..

Spotify Premium

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The original, the classic, the OG. Spotify was the trailblazer when it came to ad-free unlimited music streaming services. The seasoned veteran to Apple Music’s fresh-faced rookie. While they have a free ad-supported service that let’s you stream music on “shuffle”, their full service (Premium) is the true gem.

Just like Apple Music, they have almost-every song you’d want (but no T. Swift. Which may be a deal-breaker for some, I know). They also have a lot of playlists (a lot of my friends really love their “study music” playlists).

The number-one thing that Spotify Premium has over Apple Music is the price. Although their free trial is only 30 Days, they have a really great student discount. With your .edu student email, you get 50% off the regular price— for a total of only $4.99 a month. This is a really, really good deal in my opinion. You get on-demand unlimited music streaming for less than the cost of a Venti frappuccino. The bang for your buck is amazing.



Uber & Lyft

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These services are technically different, but for simplicity’s sake I’m including them in the same entry. They are both car service apps, which solve every single negative aspect of traditional car services and taxi companies. You hail the car through an app, track their location to you, and pay for your ride through the app using your credit/debit card. No cash required.

They both also offer a lot more ease-of-mind than traditional taxi cabs. Drivers are vetted using background checks. Cars must be 10 years old or younger (but most of them are only a few years old, in my experience) and pass a multi-point inspection. Like I mentioned, you have proof of how long they’ll take to get to you (the worst thing I’ve ever experienced with a taxi cab is them lying about how far they are and waiting forever).

As for which one is better— well, I use them both. Sometimes an Uber driver will be too far away, while Lyft will have a closer one. Some of my friends swear by Lyft, others swear by Uber. I will say that Lyft seems to have more “discounts” on rides than Uber (they will send you an email sometimes saying that rides are currently __% off for a certain time).

Uber and Lyft are GREAT services to use to ensure that you and your friends stay safe when going out. There’s no need to stress out about who is driving or if you have a ride, because there is a professional and easy-to-use service at your disposal. They both also have great first-time-user offers:

Uber: FIRST RIDE FREE UP TO $22 (Use code FEELIN22)


will say that you should check with your friends first in case they have an Uber or Lyft account first. Using one of their referral codes, both of you end up getting ride credits (rather than just you).

Again, I’d like to reiterate: the offers I am advertising are default offers. I am receiving no benefit.

Adobe Creative Cloud

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Now, this one is really great. It’s also really useful for a lot of students who are into graphic design, photography, media arts, etc.

Creative Cloud is Adobe’s new service (also released just this summer) that includes all of their creative applications— and I mean all. You name it—

  • After Effects
  • Audition
  • Bridge
  • Dreamweaver
  • Flash
  • Illustrator
  • InDesign
  • Photoshop
  • Premiere Pro
  • and more

The price is usually $19.99/month for one app or $49.99/month for all. They have a free 30-day trial for their “all” membership, but what is really great is their special student pricing. With your .edu student email, you can get their All Apps membership for only $19.99/month. This is absolutely the best deal on this whole list. It does not apply to everyone, but for those of us who do creative things as a job or hobby, it really is an invaluable resource.

And for Black Friday, from now until November 27, it is only $15.99/month. So, even GREATER savings.

Adobe Creative Cloud Student

I hope that this list helped some of you! As always, set a reminder to yourself to cancel a trial in case you don’t end up using it that much or didn’t like it. What I usually do is set up a reminder on my phone for 28 days from the day I sign up.


Happy Holidays, talk to you soon!


Look to the stars!

Hey Renegades!

Recently I was able to have a private tour of our very own planetarium! We are one of the few colleges that are lucky enough to have such an incredible asset on campus. Our astronomy courses are even taught inside! How awesome is that? There are even shows specially made for planetariums that the college shows throughout the fall and spring semesters. Professor Nick Strobel has been with us at BC for twenty years and he get’s to operate the William M Thomas Planetarium which is something he enjoys greatly.

Being able to see the planetarium and how it works was an awesome experience. Professor Strobel even turned on the stars for me! Unfortunately for you, I didn’t get any footage of that. That just means you’ll have to go check it out for yourself!

The next show the planetarium will be showing is the Season of Light Holiday Evening Show. You’ll learn about the history of holiday customs for a variety of cultures as well as why we have seasons in the first place.

For tickets and more information on the planetarium visit their website.

I encourage you guys to check it out and see a show. I know I am!

Thanks for stopping by and checking out the planetarium.

And as always!


Introducing Bakersfield College’s Financial Aid Lab

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Hello, Renegades!

I hope you all did well on your midterms and papers (if you had any). We’re less than halfway done with the semester now, so good luck and work hard so that you can keep or improve those grades!

Today I want to share some info with you all about the new Financial Aid Lab! Located in the second floor of the Students Services building (next to the Financial Aid counter), the Financial Aid is a new addition to campus this Fall, taking up the old Work Placement offices (which are now located in the Administration building).

The Financial Aid Lab (or “FA Lab”) is a great new tool for student success. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 76 percent of students at two-year colleges receive financial aid. In order to be eligible for any kind of financial aid, students must fill out a a Free Application for Federal Student Aid every year. The process can be an overwhelming one, especially for new students. The FA Lab seeks to solve this problem by providing students with hands-on assistance with filling out their FAFSAs.

“Many students have problems with their FAFSA, and their FAFSA is held up by something as simple as not having one piece of information match,” says Tucker Clerico, a student worker in the FA Lab, “here we can help you identify and solve those problems in the blink of an eye.”

One of the steps that students can especially have trouble with is the verification process. Some students are chosen at random, by the Department of Education, to provide documentation to verify that the information on their FAFSA is correct. “We can help you find out if you need to turn in extra documents, and which ones [they are],” said Clerico.

Students are definitely appreciating the benefits. “I had a great experience in the FA Lab. [The student worker] was very helpful,” said Priscilla Padilla, “I finished my FAFSA quickly and all of my questions were well answered. He was very patient throughout the entire process”

Clerico says it best: “In the Financial Aid Lab, we go full circle. Whether you’re in the beginning, middle, or very end we can make sure you walk out of the Lab completely finished with the process and fully prepared.”

Check out the Financial Aid Lab today!

Thanks to my fellow blogger Belen Martinez (@bmartbc) for the video.

Bakersfield College Jazz Band Spotlight

Hey Renegades!

Recently I was given the honor of sitting in on a rehearsal for our very own jazz band! I got to see some of my fellow renegades who are blessed with so much potential and talent. Here is a video of an interview with our jazz band instructor and a few of his students.

Professor Kris Tiner has been an instructor with Bakersfield College since 2004 where he is the jazz band instructor, music appreciation professor, and a jazz appreciation professor. I met with him recently to find out what the jazz band has to offer and to find out who exactly can sign up for the courses.

There’s this stigma that you can’t join band, theater, or choir if you have no experience in the past, but here at Bakersfield College we disagree. We believe that it is never too late to participate in performing arts and that there are no requirements. Performing arts is for everyone! Whether you’ve performed on stage since you were two years old or have never stepped foot on a stage, we have the classes and the resources for you to live these experiences for yourself.

“It’s a real mix.” Professor Tiner said when asked about who joins the jazz band. The skill level varies from very experienced music majors to individuals who want to participate in a group setting on stage. He even has students who participate only in the class room! Meaning they attend rehearsal but don’t perform on stage until they believe they’re ready to do so.

There are no excuses to not participate in an activity you have an interest in! And this goes for anything! If you want to participate in a sport or even student government you can sign up! Bakersfield College a melting pot of talent and experiences. So get out there and get involved. Don’t limit yourself because you don’t think you’re qualified.

I also want to encourage you to take a step back and do something you truly enjoy. School is stressful and that alone can cause some of us to feel pretty down in the dumps. So I want you to take some time and do the hobby you’ve lost time for. Unload the stress and do something that makes you happy.

I after reading this blog and watching the Jazz Band Spotlight I hope you feel encouraged to join your fellow renegades on stage, on the field, or in the office.

Want your club or team of any variety to be featured in this blog? Send me a message! I would love to meet with you!

What hobbies do you enjoy doing? Let us know in a comment below!

And don’t you ever forget


Help is on the way! Tips and Tricks from fellow Renegades!

Hey Renegades!

I hope this semester is treating you well thus far!

But in the case that it’s not and you feel like you could use some extra help I’ve arranged a short video of fellow Renegades giving a few tips they’ve learned throughout their time at Bakersfield College.

Great advice from great people!

The advice that I would give are to:

  1. See your counselor at least twice a semester.

Making sure you’re educational plan goes to plan is very important. I do this personally and it has done nothing but benefit me because you can also ask questions that may arise during your time at Bakersfield College. The counselors are there to help you get through school and can also point you in the direction of other services that could potentially help you.

  1. Always set up appointments!

Let’s face it no one wants to wait longer than an hour to meet with a counselor or anyone for that matter. Set up appointments and show up at least 10 minutes early. Time is precious! Especially yours 😉

  1. Take advantage of the student services provided to you for you!

If you read my first blog you’ll know that I am a part of the DSPS program. They have made my life so much easier when it comes to school. If you feel like you may have a disability stop by and grab an application.

Bakersfield College also offers FREE TUTORING. FREE! Who doesn’t like free stuff! Set up an appointment and get the help you need for free!

You can find these services and more on the student services tab on the Bakersfield College website. Check them out! You never know what you’ll find!

Click the image to go to

Those are a few tips and trick from me but what about you?

Have any advice for your fellow Renegades? Share them in the comments!

And don’t forget


Happy Fall / Transfer Admission Guarantee Deadline

Hello Renegades!

Hope you’ve all had a great first-month back at school!

October is right around the corner, and with that comes Fall! My favorite part of Fall is that it stops feeling like an oven outside. But, a lot of other fun stuff comes along with it:

  • Pumpkin things (Jack-o-Lanterns, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Spice Lattes 😉 )
  • Coats, Boots, Scarves
  • etc.

Share your favorite thing about Fall in the comments!

Something I wanted to talk to you all about that also concerns the end of September is the deadline to submit a “Transfer Admission Guarantee” (or, TAG) Application is September 30!

What is TAG?

According to the University of California—

Six University of California (UC) campuses offer guaranteed admission to students from all California community colleges (CCC). By participating in a TAG program, students can ensure their admission to a specific UC campus.


Which UC universities offer TAG?

The six UC universities that have TAG agreements with CCCs are:

  1. Davis
  2. Irvine
  3. Merced
  4. Riverside
  5. Santa Barbara
  6. Santa Cruz

What are the requirements to TAG?

  • 30 semester/45 quarter units by submission deadline, 60 semester/90 quarter by admission
  • Full-time enrollment at a CCC from Spring 2015 through Spring 2016
  • Minimum GPA ranging from 3.0 to 3.5, depending on Major (see here)
  • Complete English Composition & Math courses by Fall 2015

Apply for TAG here:

UC Transfer Admission Planner

Whoa, this is a lot of information! Where can I get some help?

There will be a workshop called UC TAG— You’re In! on Tuesday, September 29 in SS 151 (the lab classroom located on the second floor of the Student Services building, across from the Financial Aid counter).  The Director of Transfer Services & Counseling, Marisa Marquez, will go over all the requirements for your TAG application and review them, and answer any questions you might have.

I strongly encourage students who are planning to apply to University of California for Fall 2016 admission to submit a TAG application. Even if the university you want to attend isn’t one of the six, it’s a valuable thing to do! The great thing about TAG is that it guarantees your admission to that campus as long as you fulfill all of the minimum requirements. It can be a great peace of mind, even if it is not your first-choice campus.

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