By Hannah Watson
Heading off to college can be one of the most exciting times of a young person’s life, but it can also be one of the most stressful. Fortunately, there are some tools out there on the web that can help students stay organized, keep in touch with their families, and get on the right track for success in all aspects of this new stage in life. Here are a just a few that we think are worth the time to bookmark before heading off to class this year.
These tools will help you do everything from learning how to finance your education to getting the best deals on the books for your classes.
- Book Finder: Use this free tool to search through several online sites to find the best prices on the books you’ll need for classes, saving you money and making sure you’re ready for school when it starts.
- Bookmooch: If you really want to go cheap, use this online tool to find students to swap textbooks with.
- RateMyProfessors: Find out what you can expect from the professors you’re signed up with using this tool.
- AnswerU: Have some questions about your school? Ask them on this site and get answers from students already going there.
- FinAid.org: Find funding for your education on this site.
- Chegg: If you don’t want to buy your books you may be able to save money by renting them on this site.
- BigWords: Use this site to search through the biggest book retailers online for the lowest prices on your texts.
- BookBurro: This extension for Firefox will let you easily look up the best price of books by right clicking on any book name on a webpage.
- Bartleby.com: You may not even need to pay for your books if you can find them for free in this public domain collection.
- TuitionCoach: Get a basic education on how to pay for your college education through this site.
A big part of doing well in your college classes is taking notes. These applications and tools will let you easily take notes and organize, share, and store them.
- NoteMesh: This site allows students who are in the same classes to share notes and collaborate easily with one another.
- Notely: Notely can help you get all your school stuff together, with schedules, calendars, note-taking tools and even a homework planner.
- Notesake: Organize all of your notes with this online application.
- Evernote: With this app you can take your notes with you anywhere, even sync them up with your cell phone for notes on the go.
- MyStickies: If you’re browsing the web you can leave little notes for yourself with this helpful sticky app.
- NoteCentric: This social networking site lets users put up and share their notes from classes at school.
- University Notes: Check out this social site to share and read notes from courses at your school and those around the nation.
- UberNote: Not only can you take notes with this tool but add tasks into them as well.
- Webnote: This online tool is a pretty basic way to take notes online.
- ShareNotes: Use this site to find notes and share your own for study purposes.
Studying and Homework
These tools can help you study more effectively and get better grades on your homework.
- Cramster: This site is a great place to seek out answers to homework questions you need help with, find practice exams and a whole lot more.
- CollegeRuled: Here you can keep up with your courses, create class schedules and maintain to-do lists so you can remember your important assignments.
- Quizlet: Use this tool to make your own quizzes to study or find those that others have made.
- Mathway: Want to check your math skills to make sure you’re on the right track? This tool can help.
- CollegeCram: This site is all about social learning and is a great place to find other students to study with.
- Graphing Calculator: You don’t need to invest in an expensive graphing calculator– just use this free online version instead.
Writing and Research
If you want to make writing papers easier and get a leg up on researching, try out these tools.
- EasyBib: Make creating a bibliography much easier with this free online tool.
- Ottobib: Ensure that your bibliography or works cited pages are done correctly with this tool. Enter in the information about the text and the type of format you want it in and the program does the rest.
- GoogleDocs: Want to be able to work on your paper or project no matter where you are? Even if you don’t have a laptop, GoogleDocs gives you access to all your files right from a Gmail account, making it easy to keep homework mobile.
- Wikipedia: While you should never use Wikipedia as a source on your paper, it can often be a great starting point for research on a project and can point you in the direction of the books and resources you should be looking for.
- Google Scholar: Ensure that the sources you’re searching for on the web are reliable by using this helpful academic-only search engine from Google.
- BibMe: Whether you need ALA, MLA, or Chicago Manual of Style, this free bibliography tool can help you out.
- SparkNotes: If you’re having a tough time understanding the classic lit you’re reading, give these free study questions and notes.
- CiteULike: Use this tool to search for, sort and cite scholarly research sources.
- Footnote: Go to the source and get access to original historical documents on this site that you can use in your research.
- Dictionary.com: Chances are pretty good that when you’re doing your reading you’ll come across words you don’t know. Look them up on this site, find synonyms, get translations and play educational games as well.
- YourDraft: Here you can type and store your paper so that you can access it from anywhere with an internet connection.
Presentations and Collaboration
Inevitably, you’ll have to give a presentation and work with others on a project. These tools will make it a little easier and help you get the grade you want.
- Zoho Show: If you need to give a presentation and don’t have Microsoft PowerPoint you can easily create one using this fully-featured and free alternative.
- bubbl.us: Check out this tool to make working in groups a little easier. You can map out your ideas and thoughts for the project and easily email it to anyone you choose.
- Thinkature: Here you’ll be able to engage in real-time collaboration, with voice, text and visual elements.
- MeetWithApproval: This site can help you arrange a meeting or event at a time that works for everyone in your group.
- ProBoards: Create a board through this site so all members of your group can post and work together easily online.
- TimetoMeet: Set up an account with this site to make it a little easier to meet up with those you’re working with, especially if there are several people in your group.
- Goplan: This app isn’t totally free, but you can use if for 30 days for free which is more than likely more than enough time for you to work with others collaboratively on a project using it.
- Clipmarks: This application will let you store, share and comment on the information you find on the web, making collaborative research easier.
- Lazybase: Check out this site to make a database where you and others you’re working with can edit and add-to information.
These helpful online tools can make sure you keep track of your assignments, fun activities, and just about everything else.
- MyNoteIT: This application comes with just about everything you’ll need to stay organized at school, from a calendar to a simply way to store and share notes for all your courses.
- Delicious: While you can bookmark just about anything you like with this tool, it can be incredibly useful for keeping track of the websites for your courses, syllabi and other important school information. Better yet, you can access it no matter where you are or what computer you’re on.
- Zotero: This Firefox tool makes it easy to organize, store, cite and use your research sources right from your browser.
- Mindomo: Help yourself get your thoughts in order with this free mind mapping tool.
- Diigo: Use this tool to organize your web world, with functions that let you highlight, create sticky notes and email information.
- MySchoolog: Get everything in your school life organized through this online tool.
- TracksLife: Whether you want to track what you eat, your progress in a project or your budget you can do it with this tool.
- Backpack: While designed for business, this tool can help you organize all of your big, semester-long projects.
- Presdo: If you have a busy social schedule, this application can help you track all of your outings in one place.
- NetVibes: Check out this site to keep all your social networking, chat and frequently visited sites in one place so you won’t have to run all over the place to use them.
- Shoshiku: This online tool makes it simple to keep track of all your assignments and projects so you’ll never forget something important.
Whether you need a great calendar or an easy way to keep track of what you need to get done, these tools will help you stay on top of everything when you’re at school.
- TaDa List: If you’re the sort of person who can memorize all the capitals of Africa but who can’t remember all the errands you’re supposed to run, this application may come in handy. You’ll be able to keep track of homework, work, projects and more from one easy list.
- Remember the Milk: Help yourself remember the milk or just about anything else with this to-do app.
- Google Calendar: One of the best free calendars out there, Google Calendar can keep you on track with all your tasks and even makes it simple to send out invites to fun events as well.
- 30 Boxes: This simply designed calendar will help you keep all your important events organized.
- Jotlet: If you want to be able to share your schedule with family and friends, sign up for this free calendar service.
- WhichTime: With loads of widgets available to customize it, this calendar is a totally personal way to keep track of tasks.
- My 50: Keep track of the big picture with this tool that lets you track and organize your life goals.
- Toodledo: Check out this tool to keep a to-do list that does it all, including analyzing your dates, priorities, and time estimates to create a customized schedule for your needs.
- bitBomb: If you want to take your to-dos on the go, try out this application. You’ll get reminders to your cell phone of what you need to get done.
- Nozbe: With functions that help you keep to-do lists, manage projects and tasks, get reminders, share with others, and even access from your mobile phone, this app does it all.
- HipCal: Created by college students, this application will let you create your own calendar or one that can be shared by a group and create to-do lists as well.
- LifeTango: Keep track of all your personal goals whether for the short or long term on this site, a great way to track your progress throughout the year.
Whether you’re homesick or just want to make sure you stay in touch, these tools offer you a lot of options for communicating with everyone important to you.
- Meebo: No matter what IM service your friends and family use you can chat with them using Meebo. With a Meebo account you’ll be able to access your accounts on everything from Gtalk to AOL at once.
- Gmail: This free webmail application is generally considered among the best, partly because of what a great job it does of filtering out junk mail. It is full of other features as well, and can make it easy to keep in touch with friends and relatives.
- Facebook: There aren’t too many college students out there today without a Facebook account, so sign up to keep in touch and share what you’re doing.
- Skype: While not all services from Skype are free, calls from computer to computer generally are, letting you talk with those you love without breaking your budget.
- Twitter: Let your friends and family read short messages about what you’re up to on this site you can update from anywhere– even your phone.
- ooVoo: Similar to Skype, this site offers free video conferencing and chat.
- WordPress: What better way to let others know what you’re up to than with a blog? With WordPress you can set up a free site and post updates and pictures to your account.
- CampusBug: Meet other students going to your school and find out about groups you might be interested in with this social networking site.
- Campfire: This site may have been created for business use, but it can also be a great way to work with others can keep in touch and share files with family members.
- GroupLoop: If you’re heading up a group you can keep all members in the group on the same page with this free, web-based software.
For many students, college will be the first time to manage a large part of their own finances. Since most students are on a tight budget, these tools can help make it a little easier to have fun, but live within their means.
- Wesabe: This tool provides a great way to track your finances and get support and help from an online community as well.
- Mint: Link up your accounts with this site and you’ll get weekly reports about your standings and a whole lot more.
- Buxfer: Get a better picture of your financial standings by using this free tool.
- MoneyTrackin’: Make sure you’re staying within your budget with this helpful financial site.
- Geezeo: You can track all of your accounts on this site and tag spending with categories so you can see where your money is going.
- Student Advantage: Through this site, you can find out what kind of discounts you qualify for as a student at your university.
- Coupons.com: Help yourself get discounts on just about everything with the coupons found on this site.
- iOWEYOU: Keep track of debts with friends and roommates with this helpful online tool.
Don’t be all work and no fun– these sites allow you to listen to music, read blogs, share photos and more.
- Google Reader: Whether you read the latest news or keep up with celebrity gossip, this tool will let you do so quickly and efficiently.
- FoxyTunes: If you like to listen to music while browsing or studying, this Firefox tool lets you control just about any media player right from your browser.
- last.fm: Find new music and share the music you love with this site, popular with college students and adults alike.
- College Mailer: This site can help make it easy to send out mail and memos to all the people in your clubs and organizations.
- Flickr: Store and share your photos with both family and friends using this site.
- MeetUp: If you’re trying to make friends in a new place, this site can help you find organizations, clubs and fun things to do no matter your interests.
This assortment of tools offer students a variety of options from free courses to supplement your learning to the ability to store and access files online.
- Schoolr: This search engine combines several of the most useful searches, Wikipedia, Google, Dictionary.com, and more, into one page.
- Craigslist: Whether you want to sell your books or find cheap furniture for your dorm room, you can find deals on this classifieds site.
- DivShare: Through this site you can share your videos, photos and more– up to 5 GB for free.
- Adrive: This site will let you store up to 50GB of information online for a 14 day free period.
- Box: Use Box’s online storage to back up your files or provide access to important information from anywhere.
- MIT Open Courseware: You don’t have to be enrolled at MIT to take courses from there. Here you can find information and videos about hundreds of MIT courses, a great way to learn even more about subjects you’re interested in.