Use the web to surf through school
The web can be your best ally when it comes to slogging through another school year. Whether you're looking to make sense of an obscure topic or want to avoid breaking the bank on that political science textbook, the Internet has a solution.
We've compiled ten of the best resources for research, report writing, cheap textbooks, and even finding a date with a fellow student from your university—because college isn't all about schoolwork.
Google Scholar sifts for the best sources
Citing Wikipedia or Buzzfeed isn't going to cut it in academia. Google Scholar sifts through the web's clutter and targets peer-reviewed and research-based articles, primarily from journals, papers, and other sources more likely to win your professor's approval.
Create a Google Scholar Library to save searches, retrieve previous discoveries, and search the full text of found reports. Create a Scholar Profile to track citations to your own publications and have greater control over references to your content.
Internet Public Library is like Librarian 2.0
Brick-and-mortar libraries may be going away, but the Internet Public Library will live on. It's an excellent search engine for academic-focused content, serving up links to university-, government-, and research-based organizations.
In the pre-Internet dark ages, a sage known as the librarian guided you through the caverns of paper-based resources. This site has a modern take: You can fill out a form requesting assistance for a specific subject. A member of the IPL staff will email you an answer. Nifty!
Purdue OWL will help anyone with formatting papers
Purdue's Online Writing Lab, known as OWL, is an essential formatting resource for research papers, regardless of which college you attend. It breaks down all the nitty-gritty formatting details you need to know, offers general writing and article construction tips, and has a Google-powered search engine to help you sniff out specific tutorials.
Many of the sections provide multiple examples and visuals for how to get the formatting right—an especially helpful touch. The examples and support articles paint an easy-to-follow picture of what the final result should look like.
BibMe writes citations so you don't have to
The worst part of writing a paper is slogging through tedious research reference formatting. Instead of torturing yourself by inputting it manually, let BibMe do the heavy lifting.
From the BibMe site, use the search bar to find your source material, which will then be transformed into MLA, APA, Chicago, or Turabian style. Or you can type in the details of one of your references manually to get the same magical output.
Rate my Professors (Warning: They use this site, too!)
Whose Economics class should you take? Rate my Professors helps you answer that burning question with student ratings on professors' helpfulness, clarity, easiness, and the all-important category of hotness.
Just as with Yelp or any other service that uses public reviews, take the content with a grain of salt. However, it can give some solid guidance about the professors you should seek out—or avoid—around your school.
Be warned before you get too snarky: Rate my Professors gives the profs a chance at the last word in a section called, "Professors Strike Back."
CashCourse crams on money smarts
For many students, college is the first foray into financial independence. Most are terrible at it—and the consequences could cast a shadow for years to come.
CashCourse is a student-friendly resource, rife with solid tips and strategies for helping avoid a lifetime of debt. Participating universities can also connect to the service and use it for issuing students specific guidance or financial course assignments.
It's worth holding onto your account even after graduating, for its articles devoted to buying a home, planning a wedding, and other leaps into adulthood.
Mint manages your money and budget
Speaking of budgeting, get a better grasp on your (likely limited) money with Mint. Connect the app to your banking and credit accounts for an overall picture of where your finances stand and how much you're spending on textbooks, pizza and other essentials.
The site also offers mobile apps. These could really help the next time you're asked to make that all-important beer run: You'll be able to provide rock-solid evidence to your compadres that they need to pitch in.
Chegg rents, buys, and sells textbooks
One of the depressing constants of college life is the crushing expense of textbooks. Enter Chegg. It lets you rent textbooks for the term of the class rather than buying them outright, saving some serious cash over the price of a brand-new text from the university bookstore.
It's also a good place to buy used books—sometimes the cost of a used textbook is fairly comparable to the rental. Best of all, Chegg's re-sell service means you could buy a used text and sell it back to recoup some of your investment.
Glassdoor gives you a jump on job-searching
Sadly, you can't stay in school forever. Get ready for the job market with Glassdoor. Going beyond simpler job sites, Glassdoor provides in-depth research and advice about specific industries, careers, and companies.
It also provides an outlet for employees to sound off about their employer, which can help you decide where to send your resume and which companies to avoid.
Glassdoor is also home to a slew of discussion forums and articles on the upsides and downsides of particular industries.
Date my School finds fellow alums for you
For many students, a new life at college means starting over with a new social circle, including new romantic interests. So why not kick off your online dating experience with something you have in already common with potential hook-ups—your alma mater?
Date my School service connects you with students and alumni of your very college, a guaranteed conversation starter if there ever was one.
Like any foray into the world of dating, you'll want to proceed with caution. If nothing else, you could rate your professors in the analog world.