13 Free Online Sources to Help You Through School

Whether you’re struggling with a particular class or just want to expand what you know, these 13 sites can give you a library’s worth of information right from your laptop.

1. U.C. Berkeley Webcasts

Get podcasts and webcasts of current and archived courses at the University of California, Berkeley, and both live and on-demand webcasts of notable appearances, campus events, and prominent speakers and lectures.

2. MIT Open Courseware

Choose from over 1,700 courses spanning MIT’s entire curriculum, and download free lecture notes, exams, problem sets, labs, video lectures, video demonstrations, and more.

3. Wikipedia

Almost every significant event, person, place and thing has a page on the Wiki. Just remember that Wikipedia is a user-generated and user-monitored site, so what you’re reading may not necessarily have passed a thorough review for accuracy. Wikipedia’s a great place to start when you want to know more about pretty much anything, but you may not want to rely on it as the main reference source for your term paper.

4. Podcast Alley

A directory of over 36,000 podcasts, Podcast Alley lets you search for podcasts by key words or by category. Find hundreds of language-learning choices in the Education section, Mac Attack weekly tips and tricks for your Mac in the Technology section, or The Naked Scientists’ plain-English answers to your science questions in the Science & Medicine section.

5. YouTube

Sure, you can kill time—and brain cells—watching Britney Spears going down in flames at this year’s VMAs, or witness what happens when you mix Diet Coke and Mentos. But you can also find an introduction to calculus functions, Arabic language lessons, and a series on how to create fire effects in Photoshop. Rely on other viewers’ ratings to help you filter out the YouTube junk from the truly useful.

6. Education Index

The Education Index puts a huge database of educational websites at your fingertips. Simply click on a subject like archaeology, political science, or military technologies, and instantly get a list of links to sites both general and specialized that hold a wealth of information.

7. HowStuffWorks

From the light bulb to a rocket engine, HowStuffWorks breaks down how almost anything works with diagrams and easy-to-follow explanations. Don’t have an engineering streak in you? Check out “How the Batmobile Works,” “11 Stupid Legal Warnings,” or “What if everybody in the United States flushed the toilet at the same time?” No matter what you’re wondering, HowStuffWorks probably has an answer.

8. The History Channel

Surf through video galleries, timelines, maps, celebrated speeches, significant moments, and “This Day in History.” Enter in your birthday, and learn what’s happened throughout the years on the month and day you were born.

9. Dr. Math’s Math Forum

The Dr. Math forum answers thousands of common math questions, from elementary school to college level problems. Users submit their questions to the forum, and Dr. Math will post a response. If you’re having trouble in math class or with a problem set, it can help to read through old posts on the subject—chances are someone else has had the exact same problem you’re having.

10. Science

Not just for science geeks, the online version of the popular Science magazine offers thought-provoking and easy-to-read articles on everything from advances in neuroscience and astronomy to the latest in HIV research to “did you know” conversation starters, like why it makes evolutionary sense for certain animals to eat their young or why broccoli rubbed on your skin can help prevent sunburn damage.

11. Google News

Why pick and choose between news websites when you can harness the power and variety of all of them? Google News is a news aggregator that pulls all the top stories from thousands of news sites. You can use the power of Google search to find specific news items, browse standard categories like Health, Entertainment, and Top Stories, or personalize your Google News homepage and add custom categories of your own based on key words you choose.

12. www.chemistry.about.com

Articles, diagrams, walkthroughs and Q&As at About.com cover both the chemistry basics for new students and more specialized questions for more advanced students.

13. Education Arcade

Home to educational video and trivia games suited for middle school to college students, Education Arcade is entertainment that works your brain. In one of their augmented reality games, you can use GPS-enabled handheld computers to interview virtual characters and conduct large-scale environmental analysis to try to uncover the source of a simulated toxic spill.

4 Cheap Brand-Name Laptops!

A new laptop for college doesn’t need to cost you $1,500. Don’t let the flashy ads and giant headlines fool you: You don’t need 4GB of RAM or a 2.4GHz dual-core processor to handle everything you need to do for class, even if you want to be able to download a video or blast your master playlist at the same time.

Save your money for food and rent; you can get all the college capability you need and all the digital entertainment center you want without the steep price tag.

Here’s a list of six relatively inexpensive yet powerful laptops from all the big-name manufacturers. Keep in mind that these come straight from the manufacturer’s website and can be found even cheaper elsewhere!

1) Dell Inspiron 15

Starting Price: $399*

click image for specific specs

This modest laptop packs all the processing power and entertainment capability most students will need all in an awesome outer shell! With an Intel® Celeron® 900 (1MB cache/2.20GHz/800Mhz FSB)processor,  2 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive,  Windows Vista pre-installed, a 15-inch display, and a CD burner. With its integrated wireless network card, the Inspiron comes ready to jump on your school’s wireless network. Best of all, you can make this laptop yours for monthly payments as low as $15.

Avg Customer Rating 	4.3 of 5

Avg Customer Rating 4.3 of 5

2) Compaq Presario CQ60

Starting Price: $399.99*

Click image for more info

Click image for more info

Think of this bargain laptop as “the little computer that could.” It isn’t quite as powerful as its HP Pavilion cousin, but with a 2.1GHz Intel Pentium dual-core mobile processor, a healthy 3072MBMB RAM plus 250GB hard drive with built-in protection, and built-in wireless card and mic/webcam, this Presario is more than enough for the average student’s needs. And $15 a month is all you’ll need to take it home.

Avg Customer Rating 4 out of 5

Avg Customer Rating 4 out of 5

3) HP G60t

Starting Price: $499.99*

click image for more info

click image for more info

I am a proud owner of a HP laptop and I ooze nothing but praise for this brand, as I have put my laptop through the worst (coffee spills, drops, random coaster usage) and yet it has never failed me…not once! For a slightly higher price tag than the Presario, this laptop from HP offers an even better educational bang for your buck. With an Intel Pentium dual-core mobile processor cruising at a speed of 1.6GHz (with the option of upgrading up to a blazing 2.50GHz), a full 1GB RAM, a 15.4-inch display, built-in wireless, and a FireWire port plus 3 USB ports, built-in 5 digital media card reader, the Pavilion puts power and speed at your fingertips for about $20 a month.

Avg Customer Rating 4.6 out of 5

Avg Customer Rating 4.6 out of 5

4) Toshiba Satellite Pro A210-EZ2202X

Price: $670*

click image for more info

click image for more info

With the AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core mobile processor on this Toshiba laptop, you’ll plow through your assignments at 1.9GHz. Your barrage of PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, 20-page term papers, embedded videos, and multi-tab Internet research won’t stand a chance against the Satellite’s arsenal of 1GB RAM, 80GB hard drive, DVD burner, 4 USB ports, 15.4-inch display, and built-in wireless — all yours for about $24 a month.

Avg Customer Rating 4.5 out of 5

Avg Customer Rating 4.5 out of 5

* Manufacturer prices as of October 14, 2009

Chegg.com Textbook Rental Service

Does it bother you when you spend hundreds of dollars at your local college bookstore on books for your current semester? Does it bother you even more to find out that you get pennies back during the buyback period for what you paid so much for? Well if you are like many other college students who buy books and get frustrated when they find out that the book they paid $150 for is only worth $20 at buyback, then maybe renting textbooks would be an option for you.

I recently had the chance to try textbook rentals out for myself. Of course, since I was so use to purchasing textbooks, I was hesitant to try out rentals, but I gave it a shot anyway. I used Chegg Textbook Rentals for my books last semester. Overall, my personal experience with Chegg was positive. There were only a few things that bothered me about them, however it was not bad enough to make me stop doing business with them.

How Chegg Works

So how do textbook rentals work? With Chegg, you go onto their site and enter your ISBN number for the book that you need. They will display the book information if they have it in their inventory for rental. Keep in mind that they do not have every single book available for rent, however so far I have not had an issue with lack of inventory. Once the book information is displayed, you have the option to rent the book for a semester, quarter or summer session. You can even alter the dates to match the class dates for your school. Once you have the book you want, you do the traditional checkout by entering your credit card information for payment of the rental. You will receive your book within seven to ten days. You will also be given the return date when you are due to send your book back to Chegg. There are no shipping charges for returning books back; you just log on to Chegg, print out a label and return the book(s) via UPS.

Money Saved

When I first checked out Chegg’s rental prices, I was a little skeptical. The prices were so cheap that I thought it couldn’t possibly be right. I just did not understand how a brand new textbook at my college bookstore cost $160 but Chegg was going to rent it to me for a semester for $55. However I ordered the books anyway and my total rental for four classes was $232. I rented books for four classes. The cost of the books for me to purchase brand new from my college bookstore would have been $562.

Customer Service

Chegg’s customer service department is excellent. I had an issue where I did not receive a specific book that I ordered. I sent an email to Chegg through their ‘contact us’ link on their website. Within twenty-four hours, I received a phone call from one of their customer service representatives offering to help resolve my issue ASAP.

Going Green

Chegg has jumped on the going green bandwagon and for every book that you rent, they plant a tree to try to preserve the environment. It is true that we are destroying our planet and Chegg is trying to do their part to save it.

Other Important Notes

  • Chegg has a buyback program. If you have college textbooks, you can see if Chegg will purchase them. You will receive cash or a Chegg credit.
  • The books that Chegg rents are in excellent condition. The ones I had even looked brand new and there was no writing or highlighting in any of the books I used.
  • Chegg has a purchase option. You are able to convert your rental to a purchase by paying additional charges.
  • There is a thirty-day refund guarantee, just in case you drop a class or your class is canceled for some reason.
  • Chegg does charge late fees for late returns so keep that in mind when renting your book. However in my experience, the return date for my book was three weeks after the last day of the semester so there was no reason for my book to be late getting back to Chegg.

My only complaint with Chegg was that they send some of their books via third party shippers. So you may order five books and receive two from Chegg, one from another company, and the other two from another company. They do advise that you may receive multiple shipments, however they try their hardest to be sure you have tracking information for each of the shipments.

Overall, Chegg is a great alternative for students on a budget. It is perfect for students who do not keep their textbooks for reference and for students who do not write in their books. Before you buy, check out Chegg for rentals. You may save yourself a chunk of change simply by doing what people have been doing throughout time: borrowing.

Free College Textbooks

The cost of college textbooks can be surprising and frustrating to a student already burdened with high tuition costs and assorted college fees. The source for most college textbooks is the college bookstore, where students often find high-priced new textbooks and moderately-priced used books. There are still a few ways that college textbooks are available free of charge.

Library: Nearly every college keeps copies of the most popular textbooks in the library. The downsides: Most libraries don’t have enough copies to meet the demand for free textbooks. They usually won’t let students check out the books; if they do, there can be a waiting list for the most popular texts.

Professors’ copies: Some professors keep an extra textbook in their offices. It doesn’t hurt to ask professors if they’ve got an extra they can lend. The downside: No one likes being hounded by dozens of students looking for free books, so be polite to your prof.

Online: Any student assigned a book that is no longer copyrighted—typically classic literature, history, etc.—should be able to find the text free online at one of the many growing Web libraries such as Project Gutenberg, Bartleby, or Googlebooks. Many of these Web sites let readers download the texts to a laptop, iPhone, or similar device.

Several open educational resources groups such as Connexions and the Open Educational Resources Consortium, which are made up of college officials and professors, are starting to post free textbooks and lessons online. Flatworld Knowledge, a start-up, has posted 11 business-oriented textbooks, which are being used in more than 300 colleges, free on its Web page in the hopes of persuading students to pay $29.95 for paper versions or $39.95 for audio versions.

The downsides: Although many high-quality, free E-textbooks are in the pipeline, only a handful of the free E-books currently available are top-notch. In addition, many E-books can be read online only, so you can’t download them to your laptop. Many E-books don’t allow students to make notations in the text. Also, some surveys show many students find paper books easier to study than the current generation of E-textbooks. And students who buy Kindles or other expensive E-book readers often end up spending more than those who buy paper books. The top Kindle currently retails for $489, which could easily eat up at least a year’s savings from shifting to E-books. “We don’t think that a textbook E-reader will solve any problems unless we can ensure that content can be delivered to students in a fair and affordable manner,” says Nicole Allen, textbook advocate for the Student Public Interest Research Groups.

Freecycling and Web-swapping: Several Web sites have sprung up to help students find free textbooks. Textbook Revolt, a Web site started by two former University of Cincinnati students, has thousands of students offering to swap textbooks free. Bookins.com is a popular book-swapping site. Swaptree allows people to swap books, CDs, or movies for textbooks. The downsides: Most of these sites are still comparatively small, so few in-demand textbooks are on offer. And all Internet transactions are fraught with the potential of misrepresentation or fraud.

Other Interesting Sites:

http://www.freeloadpress.com

http://www.textbookrevolution.org/

Free! 100 Best iPhone Apps for Students

“College students today are swamped with social calendars, budgeting nightmares, job searching, party planning, sports, study abroad, food shopping, and of course, studying. On top of everything, students need to stay extremely organized if they want to keep up with classes and maintain a little sanity. Our list of 100 best free iPhone apps for college students can help you do it all, including reviewing for tests, storing your notes, sharing grocery lists with roommates, staying healthy, mixing drinks, getting a date and graduating on time.

Study Help

These language tutors, flash card packs, and art history resources will help you with last minute cramming and consistent vocabulary practice wherever you go.

  1. Sparky: Sparky lets you browse SparkNotes easily on your iPhone.
  2. Mathemagics Lite: Use this tool to figure out squares, complicated multiplication problems and more.
  3. Free Spanish Tutor: This tutor features native speaker audio, puzzle games, multiple choice quizzes, and more.
  4. USA Presidents: Review names, numbers, dates, political parties and other facts about the U.S. presidents when you have these virtual flash cards.
  5. History: Maps of the World: Find detailed maps of Africa, Europe, Asia, the U.S., the Middle East and more.
  6. Word of the Day Lite: Expand your vocabulary with this app.
  7. Art Lite: Study the histories, works and significance of artists like Leonardo da Vinci, van Gogh, Cezanne and more.
  8. Brain Tutor 3D: Anatomy and pre-med students can study the brain terms and more with this app.
  9. planetFacts: Find out mass, diameter, orbiting speed and other information for the planets.
  10. Free French Word of the Day: Practice your French with this app.
  11. StudySets – Psychology Lite: Psych students will appreciate this bundle of psychology learning resources.
  12. Vocabolistic: Look up words or hide the definition to quiz yourself with Vocabolistic.
  13. Answers: powered by Yahoo! Answers: This app opens your iPhone to the Yahoo! Answers portal so that you can ask questions about anything.
  14. Pocket Lawyer Lite: Law and political science students can use this real-life law reference as a study tool, too.
  15. gFlash + Flashcards and Tests: Create your own flashcards and share them with study partners.

Staying Current

Keep up with the news stories that affect your time at school and relate to your classes.

  1. NYTimes: Get your news from the New York Times online for free.
  2. BBC Reader: Keep up with the top stories in Europe and globally with this app.
  3. HuffingtonPost.com: Access the authoritative, but sometimes snarky, stories from the Huffington Post.
  4. NPR Addict: Do your homework before class or talking with professors by getting your news from NPR.
  5. Variety: Stay current on entertainment news with Variety’s app.

Classifieds

Look up apartments and more with these tools.

  1. Apartments by ForRent.com: Look up apartments to rent in your college town here.
  2. CraigSearch v1.0: Search Craigslist from your iPhone. Includes standard search options.
  3. Apartments: Apartment guide’s app will help you locate properties in your area.

Shopping Deals

Save money when you find coupons and deals on books.

  1. Yowza: This app uses GPS to find coupons for stores in your area.
  2. Dial Zero: Get connected to customer service lines for credit cards, health insurance companies and more.
  3. Book Bargain: Find deals on books from Amazon and other online stores.
  4. Flashlight: Turn your iPhone into a flashlight that shines white, red, green or blue light.
  5. Relax Alarm Clock Lite: Wake up on time to soothing guitar music, the sound of birds, bamboo flute music, and other options. This app also lulls you to sleep for a quick nap.
  6. iHourglass Free: Time practices tests, study breaks and more with this tool.
  7. TouchCloset: Keep your closet organized on your phone by cataloging photos and shopping lists and picking out your party clothes ahead of time even when you’re away from home.

Local Guides

Learn more about your college city or the town you’re visiting with these tools.

  1. Pizza!: Find the closest, cheapest pizza near you.
  2. Free Wi-Fi finder: Use this tool to find places you can bring your laptop to study.
  3. FastFood – Top Restaurant Finder: This fast food directory will connect you to cheap, satisfying food quickly.
  4. Have2P: Find nearby restrooms and flag businesses that do not have open restrooms.
  5. Fandango: Find local movies and tickets here.
  6. iRecycle: Find local recycling stations here.
  7. WhosAround: Use WhosAround to find friends who are in the same area as you. Supports messaging, profile photos and more.
  8. Local Concerts: Find out when and where your favorite bands are going to play with this free app.
  9. Local Picks by TripAdvisor: USe this app when traveling or if you live in a popular vacation destination. You can look up restaurants, bars, and other spots that are favorites for the locals.
  10. Slifter Local Shopping: Use this app to look up stores that carry whatever it is that you’re searching for.

Partying and Social

This list of free apps has everything you need to be the life of the party at college.

  1. Drunk-Dial: Spin the dial on your app to get free drink recipes.
  2. Who Called?: If a phone number doesn’t pop up when someone calls you, do a reverse lookup and find out what the caller wanted with you.
  3. Love Poem Generator: Prove to your date that college guys can be romantic when you use this tool.
  4. Birthday Notification: Rely on this tool to keep track of all of your college friends’ birthdays.
  5. Drinking Games Free: Look up drinking games to play at your next party.
  6. Spin the Coke: This version of Spin the Bottle involves a Coca-Cola bottle.
  7. a.k.a. Your Favorite Name Generator: Come up with fake names for theme parties and more.
  8. 5800+ Drink and Cocktail Recipes Free: Never get bored with mixing drinks when you have this directory of cocktail recipes.
  9. Beer Brands: Catalog your favorite beer brands and keep up with microbreweries and emerging brands.
  10. Hello Vino – Wine Pairing Guide: Impress your guests by making appropriate wine and food pairings.
  11. Perfect Date: This guide to the perfect date helps you with conversation and more.

Reference

Keep these reference tools close so that you’re prepared to discuss constellations, the periodic table, or world facts.

  1. USA Factbook Free: This reference packet is great for anyone in a civics, history or political science course that covers the U.S. Access key documents, lists of the flags, state capitals and other stats.
  2. Stars: Anatomy students can use this tool as a resource when studying constellations.
  3. The Chemical Tough: Lite Edition: View the periodic table when you download this free app.
  4. Formulas Free: This app brings you free calculus formulas.
  5. iQuotations: Look up quotes to use in papers or just as general inspiration.
  6. Math Ref Free: Get free reference packs for geometry, algebra, trig, derivatives and more.
  7. AllTheCountries: Get facts about literacy rate, economy, population, area and more for every country.
  8. Your Rights: Use this app for political science courses or just as backup when you get into trouble at school.
  9. iTranslator: Study abroad students and panicked foreign language students can use this tool to connect to Google Translator, Babel Fish or Free Translation.
  10. Quickpedia Lite: This app makes it easier and faster to use Wikipedia.

Games and Quizzes

Prepare for the GMAT or your next Xbox championship tournament here.

  1. GMAT Practice Quiz: Use your iPhone to study for the GMAT when you use this tool.
  2. Xbox Achievement Guide: Become the ultimate Xbox champion on your hall when you have this tool.

GPS

Find your way around town with these valuable GPS apps.

  1. GasBag: Find the cheapest gas nearest your location.
  2. Take Me Home, I’m Lost!: If you’re too new in town or just too confused, use this app to find your way back home.

Health and Fitness

In college, it’s easy to forget about your health. These free apps will help you eat right and find the time to exercise.

  1. Restaurant Nutrition: Make healthier decisions even when your friends want to eat out.
  2. Stress Reducer: Listen to the ocean through a virtual shell to relieve stress.
  3. Am I Pregnant Quiz: This pregnancy quiz is currently free and could save your sanity.
  4. Natural Cures: Try these natural cures if you’re too broke to go to the doctor.
  5. iMapMyRun: Track your runs, including pace, location, speed and overall progress.
  6. Sleep Diary: This app helps you get back on a normal, healthy sleep schedule.

Organization

Stay organize with these tools, which help you manage task lists, homework, shopping, errands and more.

  1. myHomework: View your homework lists, project task sheet, test schedule and more with this organizer.
  2. Blackboard Learn<: Access your school’s Blackboard system from your iPhone with this app.
  3. Evernote: Take picture, text and audio notes that are searchable with Evernote.
  4. AppGmail: Quickly access your Gmail account and view it as a wider display with this app.
  5. ShopShop: Keep a running shopping list that tracks your purchases and marks them off.
  6. Smart ToDo: Manage a to-do list with notes and due dates with this app.
  7. To Do’s: This app lets you customize your to-do list according to priority level, ordering and more.
  8. A Personal Assistant: This free organizes your accounts, including online shopping, banking, Netflix and more. It also tracks cell phone minutes, frequent flyer miles, travel itineraries and more.
  9. Organizer Lite: View several organizers in a single, streamlined display with this app. You can manage a calendar, birthdays, appointments, contacts and more.
  10. mySticky Lite: This iPhone version of Mac’s sticky notes let you tack reminders and lists over a virtual bulletin board.

Search

Let your iPhone guide you in general searches, job hunts and more.

  1. Inquisitor: This super fast search tool also makes suggestions for your searches.
  2. Last.fm: Search music, artists and more with Last.fm for the iPhone.
  3. Repairpal: This app will help you find auto repair shop and support.
  4. Job Search: Indeed.com’s search application lets you find jobs by location and job description.

Miscellaneous

This list of free iPhone apps includes laundry guides, an ebook library, recipe guides and plenty more tools to make your life at college more exciting and organized.

  1. MyGPA Calculator: Calculate your GPA per semester and cumulatively.
  2. BookShelfLT: Check out ebooks for your iPhone.
  3. Salsa: Practice for your ballroom dance class or for a night out.
  4. Laundry Pro Free: Look up North American and European laundry symbols and figure out how to care for your different garments.
  5. wikiHow: How to and DIY Survival Kit: Survive anything, including a hotel fire, long fall and nuclear attack, when you download this pack.
  6. Guitar Tuner: Use Guitar Tuner to tweak your guitar and get ready for gigs on campus.
  7. Intelliremote: Control your home theater that runs Windows with your iPhone.
  8. Free Driver’s Ed: Students practicing for the driving test can review topics and questions here.
  9. F-MyLife: This popular tool lets you commiserate with others who’ve had a bad day on F-MyLife.
  10. Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner: Get ideas for cheap, healthy and/or comfort food meals.
  11. Hairstyle Lite: Instead of paying for an expensive visit to the salon, try out a new hairstyle by using this free app.
  12. iWrecked – Auto Accident Assistant: Log details from your car accident, call for help, take photos of the accident, and more.
  13. College Football Live!: Keep up with all the stats, scores and more for college football.”

-courtesy Best Universities