Trying to get your shit together in your early 20s is the absolute apex of insanity. Few, if any, ever master it. It's certainly more challenging with all these new factors developing in your life, like struggling to make rent, getting overwhelmed with work, being perpetually in debt, and getting chased by that pack of rabid, arctic wolves from lecture hall to lecture hall. But do not despair—well, you still can despair, but despair a little less, probably—because there is plenty of free shit out there that you can take advantage of to save you a little money and peace of mind, if you don't mind being a little bit sleazy with your methods.
TOILET PAPER: When it comes to storing toilet paper in bathroom stalls, a number of colleges use the classic surface-mounted twin-roll model, which you became probably very well acquainted with during Egg Salad Sandwich Day at the dining hall. You'll notice that there's a lock on top that's supposed to prevent students from stealing it. Well, more often than not, you can open the lock with almost any key that you have on you (nothing too thick like a car key) and take a roll for yourself. The bathrooms that aren't as regularly maintained, alongside study halls or dorm rooms, are going to be your best bet. While the one-ply bargain-bin sandpaper you're stealing is not likely to provide you with the most pleasant feeling, the size of some of the rolls are generally big enough to last you through a good chunk of the school year depending on your daily Thai curry intake.
Be careful though. If enough students start taking rolls too often, maintenance will change the locks. (Note: If you're taking from a Cintas twin-roll model, which most colleges use because it's cheap, this trick only works with Traditional Series, not the bougie Signature Series rolls.)
LUNCH TRAYS: Remember at the end of "The Giver" when the protagonist is trying to get away from that village of hive-minded emotionless weirdos, so he sleds down a hill to freedom? Well, if you ever find yourself in the same scenario, or you just need a break during the snowy season, know that you can just take any dang old lunch tray from the dining hall and scoot your little patoot down a mountain. You can also use it as a shield to defend yourself against the guy in your dorm who keeps trying to coerce you into seeing his less-than-stellar improv troupe. We said "No thanks," Gary.
PENS: Repeat this mantra to yourself: "It's OK to steal pens." It is. For one, any admissions building on campus worth its salt is going to have the nicest pens, simply by virtue of the noticeable economic disparity between that building and the rest of campus. People who occupy these facilities are the definition of "pencil pushers," and for that reason, you have the right to push these pens out of their meaty hands and into your life.
Looking for a pen that'll last? How about one with fine plastic reflective sheen around the barrel, a retractable ballpoint tip (or roller ball, depending on the prestige of the institution), and a metal blind cap for the orally-fixated-super-intense student that's durable enough to chomp your canines down on without ruining the pen's integrity? How about one that you can put in an empty coffee cup on your desk at whatever "grown-up" job you have in the future that shows your co-workers that you mean business? Because that's the kind of pen you'll get from a college admissions office. •