A Slackers Guide to Back-to-School

A Slackers Guide to Back-to-School

Back to school time is here and retailers are vying for your cash, hawking everything from spiral bound notebooks to notebook PCs as school year essentials. Problem is, college students don’t have any cash. Luckily, intrepid students have managed to work around tight budgets for years; they share their secrets for success.
Giving up on glam

We took an Indianapolis fashion diva and kept her up for a week, forced her to balance college coursework and a demanding social schedule and then took away all of her money to turn her into a real college student.


Trixie Levinson’s beauty regime used to be an hour-long ritual, transforming herself every day into an enviable high-school fashionista. Beginning with a long morning shower, in which she shaved, washed and exfoliated her skin into shimmering perfection, the ritual of trying on several outfits, debating shoes, nails and hair, applying makeup and accessorizing took up a great deal of her morning.

Now, as Levinson, 20, embarks on her first year of college, the luxury of an extended morning ritual will soon fade as studying and socializing encroach on sleep time and every unconscious hour becomes more and more precious.

Armed with a few bucks in change that we found in the seats of our car, a meal card and a collective 14 semesters of college slacking, our team of interns transformed this high-maintenance diva into a certified, apathetic, college slacker.

“I miss getting more than four hours of sleep a night,” Levinson, 20, said, fighting back waves of fatigue as she sat hunched and bleary-eyed over her 150 page biology reading assignment. “I would give anything for just another 30 minutes. Or even a whole hour. I’ve been awake since Thursday. Do you know how much coffee I’ve been drinking? Have to stay awake … have to …”

Getting over it

As we dragged her away from her book, despite vehement protests, our college slacker team realized the first step in this transformation would be helping Levinson, 20, get over her need to look good. Luckily, extreme fatigue, academic burnout and an overdrawn bank account were on our side. We shook her awake, bought her a cup of coffee on her meal card and headed out to find her a style.

Bypassing overpriced boutiques and department stores, we headed straight to the bastion of cheap duds for the broke student: Goodwill. After wading through racks of high-waisted grandma jeans and acid washed Jordache knock-offs, Levinson, 20, found a pair of Old Navy jeans for only $5. Although they were a little large, we encouraged her to leave room for the pounds she would inevitably add in the next year or so from stress and a poor diet.

Next, our team headed to the Dollar Tree on Keystone to find accessories to complement her new jeans. We settled on classic hair elastics for her new low-maintenance “do,” a pair of cheap designer knock-off sunglasses and even splurged on makeup: Chapstick and Maybelline mascara.

Total bill: $9.24.

After breaking our budget on the last two stops, we realized through her incoherent, fatigue-ridden mumblings that Levinson, 20, was in possession of a significant other, 22. His apartment was our next stop. Hiding in his closet we found several adorable T-shirts that we callously stole, along with a bag of sour cream and onion Ruffles that we found in his cupboard. With our fashion finds and a little more “shopping” around her dormitory, it was time to put her all together.

"After" key

Pull it back: This trendy, “second day hair” was achieved by being too tired after an all-night study session to wash or style anything. Charmingly disheveled, the look has an attitude that screams, “I’m just too tired to give a shit.” $1 for 50 pack of elastic bands, the Dollar Tree

Risky business: You can’t hide those tired eyes, but you can come close with these heavy shades from the Dollar Tree. Dark lenses hide a multitude of sins, from raccoon-like mascara circles to red-streaked hangover eyes. $1

Smokin’: We’re not sure if it’s the corporate brainwashing or the second-hand smoke, but there’s something about smoking that makes a woman really sexy — or at least a little more dangerous. And, looks aside, cigarettes make great conversation starters, from “Need a light?” to “Can I hold your oxygen tank?” Cigarette bummed from the creepy guy sitting outside the dorm, $0

Drag it all along: Your professor, 52, insists you bring your 30-pound chemistry textbook to class every day. Get it there in retro style with your promotional NUVO backpack that you found while cleaning out your bedroom. $0

Covering up: Freshman 15 really starting to show? Hide it all in cottony-comfort with this vintage 2000 T-shirt from the back of your boyfriend’s closet. $0

She’ll never miss it: Keep track of the time with this stylish watch taken from the community dorm bathrooms. Just remember, it was a gift from your grandmother, like, three years ago or something. $0

Embrace your shortness: With miles to walk between buildings, leave the cute shoes at home. Flip flops from roommate’s shower caddy, $0

Ms. Jackson, if you’re nasty: You can sleep in them, too! Wear these nondescript jeans every single day until they completely disintegrate — no one will notice! Just remember to use Febreeze regularly and wash them when noticeable stains appear. Jeans from Goodwill $5; Febreeze from care package from concerned mother, $0

For more of this exciting guide to Back-to-School fashion and survival essientials, pick up a printed copy of NUVO this week, or download it here

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