The first few semesters of college can be brutal. Most of us end up doing pretty bad for a few classes. Which kind of makes us wonder wether or not we are college material . After all, we were doing pretty good in high school…
So what went wrong?
College is a whole different beast, in high school you could get away without any help whatsoever. This time you are gonna need every tool you can get your hands on. But which tools, where do you get all this secret info?
Luckily for you…
I made it in and out, I’m here to tell you the most important tools and resources you can get your hands on and most importantly how to use them properly. We’ll start with the top 10 most important websites you and every college student should know.
1. Keepmeout: Save yourself from yourself
Nobody’s going to test you about the latest Taylor Swift music video or how to get your character to level 100 in less than 6 hours. So why in the world are we even wasting time with youtube and games instead of going over our class notes when we are siting in the library of all places? Entertainment and fun are a must to keep your sanity in check but you should always find a way to limit them, otherwise they’ll get out of control and you know what the consequences are.
How do you block distractions?
Use a site like this one, an app or anything to block them out. Two of the most useful apps can be downloaded from selfcontrol.com and coldturkey.com. If this site can’t contain your addictions, download these apps, install them and block the most time wasting sites (yes that includes facebook).
How do I use it?
That depends on how addictive and how important some sites are for you, here’s a few tips:
- Don’t block your email for too long.
- Don’t go too crazy and start blocking websites for days or more than 12 hours, otherwise you might end up tearing your laptop apart just to get back on them.
Even if you are really smart, a really bad professor can ruin your entire semester and possibly make you drop your class because he assigns a term paper every week or loves to give you extremely difficult questions he did not prepare you for.
How do you get the best and “easiest” professors?
Use rate my professor and check continously for new and old ratings. It is very unlikely your professor isn’t listed here unless he’s a new professor in which case you are out of luck.
A few tips for those who are still a freshman:
- Don’t be scared off by a few bad ratings. These are students who probably didn’t do their job properly or just didn’t have luck with the course.
- If you see a professor dominated by bad ratings, run as if your life depends on it because it does.
If you have no other options:
- Consider taking the class next semester.
- Try to get into other sections during the last few days before class, some people forget to pay their bills and there will be some seats open for you to register.
- If it’s a new professor, then make sure you look over all universities on ratemyprofessor.com because he probably just transfered over.
What if my professor isn’t listed?
Ask other students, go to the clubs to find people who took the class or know a lot more.
Whatever you do, try to get the best professors (or the least worst) for every class. That’s one of the cool things of being in college, take full advantage of it.
If you really had to take the worst professor for your subject or you simply zoned out during a particular lecture and your textbook isn’t helping, you can find dozens of lectures by world class professors for your subject on youtube.
Just type “topic + lecture”, “topic +tutorial”, “topic +review” for your particular topic.
Personally, I can’t count how many times youtube has saved me from (I actually became quite dependent on it for a few classes) failing a class.
What if the lectures for my subject aren’t listed on youtube?
There are other sites that have videos, lectures and lessons for you to catch up . Just type the same keywords (Ex: “topic + lecture” ) on google.
A few tips on how to use these sites:
- If there’s a video lecture for your particular subject or anything related to your major in any of these youtube channels or sites: check where it came from so you can directly go to its source and get more videos, lecture notes, past exams and more.
Ex: If you find the lecture came from stanford, go to the stanford university website and get more stuff.
- Don’t be intimidated by 2-3 hours long lectures, you don’t really have to go through the entire video just skim over to the parts that you find relevant.
This is a no brainer, you should have a reliable source of all the solutions to the questions or problems on the back of every chapter of everyone of your textbooks .
How are they useful?
Here’s a few tips on how they can help you graduate:
- Check your work and see if you made any mistakes even if you arrived at the same answer. Happened to me a few times especially in mathematics, i got 0 credit for my “correct” answers.
- If you don’t have much time left to go over too many practice problems or questions because you are having the exam tomorrow or in a few days:
– Read the question, try to solve it or answer it quickly (wether it’s numbers or letters) and check the solution.
– Don’t just read the question and jump back to the solution even though you have less than a day to prepare for an exam.
– Give each question a “quick” try (2-5 min depending on the subject) so you’ll have a better understanding on how to arrive at the answer. It’s better than just reading the question and jumping straight into the solution.
If you want to get an A for particular class, no matter how hard it is:
If you are using it for homework, just use it to check your work. Do not copy the solutions to hand in your homework. Trust me it’s better to turn in a late assignment and get a D on it than an F on your next exam because it is very unlikely you’ll do your homework properly again before the exam.
Where do I find solutions to my TextBook?
If Chegg doesn’t have the solutions to your textbook, you can always use alternative sites such as Slader.com.
You can also do a very thorough research on google and if worse comes to worst, then buy a solutions manual. It’s worth every penny, don’t borrow it from your friends.
No matter what study method you think is best for you, all of us would benefit from a flash card application at some point. It’s simply the best way to memorize formulas, definitions and anything else we may forget during an exam.
Sure there are tons of applications and sites for flashcards and best of all, premade flashcards, but I advise you to use ANKI and make your own flashcards if you have the time for the following reasons:
- Making your own flashcards will keep your studying more relevant to your class , of course.
- It will force you to go over the definitions and topics much more slowly which always helps in boosting memorization and comprehension.
Why give Anki a try?
Anki uses SRS (Space repetition system), in other words, it will show you the flashcards you are struggling with more frequently than the ones you can easily get through. The parts you are having an easier time with will show up less and less over time.
- Anki is syncable from any device. You can study at the bus stop with your iphone and pick up where you left off with your desktop back home.
- You can attach images, audio and videos into your flashcards
- The flashcards made by their community are pretty thorough and well made, you may save yourself some time by finding an extremelly well made set of cards that otherwise would take you weeks to complete.
Let’s say you are writing a 10 page term paper that’s due the next day, your lab report that will be due in a few hours or you just typed the most awesome summary for your upcoming test. But….your computer suddenly stops working and guess what you didn’t save your work.
Honestly, these things will happen in college. There will be an outage, the laptop or the computer you are using will stop responding and you’ll have wasted hours on whatever you got done.
Use googledocs or an online editor where your work is saved automatically every 5 minutes and safe from any mishaps.
You can access your work from any device too so you can keep working on that 20 page long and boring essay all day 24/7 anywhere and anytime. Isn’t that lovely?
Why bother with dropbox?
Likewise your flashdrive, external hard drive and laptop may all malfunction or “get lost” especially in the library where things get easily lost and “borrowed”.
Your laptop might also blow up from the countless of useless programs and games you run on it and stop working altogether. I know that from experience.
Lots of guys lose their laptops and hard drives during college ending up in tears, I’ve seen it myself. It’s not their laptop they are worried about or their cheap old external hard drive, it’s the last four semester long final and ultimate project required for their graduation.
Use dropbox, not just for your project but any document you think it’s important. Keep them safe from thieves and coffee spills.
We all know math classes can be quite difficult even for math majors. Especially that last one we have to pass to get our degree.
Whatever math level you are dealing with, wolfphram alpha will give you a solution to your textbook problem and provide you with every step on how to arrive at that solution by yourself. You can also get tons of other useful info about chemistry, history, literature, etc, in a matter of seconds. Just type anything and see if the answer you get is useful for your purposes.
It will save you tons of times when completing your assignments and double checking your work unless you love browsing around google just to find the particular property of a material.
Just a reminder…
Like any tool listed here, it can be a double edged sword. As far as math problems go, make sure you use it to check your answers or do a long calculation that you already know how to do.
I’m sure you are quite knowledgeable on how to research and find resources for your “original” term paper or project using wikipedia and other “reputable” resources.
There will be a time , usually during your final years, where your topic and subject will be so obscure, bizarre, new and far too complex for mere mortals to find it on regular search engines.
This is where google scholar can save you and get you an A on your final papers or projects. If you know how to use it and you are not intimated by the peer reviewed journal articles written by world experts (for world experts) you can get quite a lot of good info for your senior projects , final papers and any other writing assignment.
The more you use articles from google scholar as your resources and include them in your bibliographies, the more your instructor will be impressed and the more extra credit you will get for just about any assignment.
But those articles are too complicated!?
Some of those articles explain everything in layman terms especially in the intro section. Just read the intro and the conclusion , that’s all you may need to get an A.
10. Sparknotes: When your Dog Ate your Book
Lastly but not least. If you ever forgot to go over a chapter or read an entire book for some reason, head over to sparknotes and get a quick summary so you don’t get a zero on your history and literature quizzes.
A few tips on Sparknotes:
– Read the book first if you can, then get the most important points, themes, facts and ideas from sparknotes. This will guarantee you an A on any class that requires you to read a book for an exam.
– All teachers now are very aware of sparknotes. Make sure you use it wisely and don’t copy over whatever you find useful for your essays.
– It’s more useful for history classes where all you might need is a few handful of facts . No need to worry about plagiarization there.
Using these sites alone will not automatically give you a degree but if you put enough effort into your studies and you know how to use all of these websites properly, it will be very hard for you not to succeed. Surely there are software, iphone apps and accesories that are helpful too but I’ll leave that for another post.
Pin and like this article on facebook if you can (hopefully you didn’t block those sites yet) so everyone can benefit from it . Don’t be greedy and let them graduate too.