A couple years after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, I attempted to board a 71D with an expired college ID and was kicked off by a hawk-eyed driver. I had flashed the card at him the way I'd practiced: quickly-but-not-suspiciously-quickly, nonchalant but not aloof. But he didn't fall for it. A few steps in, the other passengers motioned at me to take off my headphones. The driver was yelling. He demanded to see the ID again, told me it was expired, and confiscated it (put it in his front shirt pocket).
He barked, "You owe me $2!" I asked if I could get my ID back (sentimental value) and get off at that stop. He said "no" and "yes," respectively. My years as a fraudulent Panther were over. I was bummed.
Of all my many college-era regrets, not taking full advantage of all the perks that came with my college ID is at the top. I used it to ride buses and buy food, but ignored all the more noble pursuits it afforded (gym membership, museums, discounts on newspapers). It wasn't until my run-in with the bus-fuzz that I realized how much I had missed out on, how much money I could have saved, how much cooler and smarter I'd be if I'd just left the house more often.
So, to help you avoid making the same mistakes, here's a partial list of perks that come with many of the college IDs in Pittsburgh. Each school has its own rules, so double check before heading out.
Feed that big old brain of yours with either free or heavily-discounted admissions at: Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History; Andy Warhol Museum; Mattress Factory; Heinz History Center; National Aviary; Phipps Conservatory; and the Carnegie Science Center.
A student ID will get you around town by buses and the T, but you can also snag reduced priced trips out of the city through MegaBus' UNiDAYS promotion.
A handful of theaters — including AMC at the Waterfront, the Manor Theatre in Squirrel Hill, and Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville — offer discounts if you have a student ID or a university email address. Also, marketing companies sometimes do free screenings for students to gauge millennial interest, so keep an eye out for those.
Obviously, there are student tickets for your school's teams, but the Riverhounds soccer team also have deals for youths, and the Penguins have their fabled Student Rush. The Pirates also offers deals on tickets for students through its unfortunately sponsored Papa John's Student Pass program.
Not only do most colleges in Pittsburgh have fitness centers on campus, but a number of gyms have discounts for students. CrossFit has discounts for full-time students, which is stipulated as at least 13 credits a semester, but it's unclear exactly how or if there is verification. Part-timers might want to roll the dice on that one.
Students can grab bundled Spotify Premium and Hulu Limited Commercial plans for $4.99 a month, which is a heck of a deal. Amazon Prime for students focuses more on deals for supplies (pencils and Post-its, presumably), and all the general awesomeness of Prime (streaming, free shipping). Netflix has no student discount yet.
Maybe it's just me, but most of the characteristics of college nights at bars are dumb. There are discounts on fluorescent drinks you don't want and party gimmicks no one has ever asked for. Go for places that have reasonable prices and likable clientele to begin with.
Even if there's no college discount posted, whip out your ID and see if they'll cave for a pity-discount. It never hurts to ask.
Follow associated editor Alex Gordon on Twitter @Shmalexgordon.