College Hacks Your Parents Could Only Dream Of

Did you know that no one got around to inventing a graphing calculator until 1985? And you probably couldn’t even play games on it. There was no TI-Nspire to do your algebra or hide the formulas your jerk of a physics professor expects you to memorize.

College Hacks Your Parents Could Only Dream Of

They didn’t even have pocket-sized calculators until the ‘70s. When your parents talk about doing things the old fashioned way, they really mean it. Fortunately, you don’t have to.

Speed up the Lecture

Try as you might, you just can’t speed up the clock while you’re sitting class. You can, however, hit the record button and play solitaire. When you get around to studying later, play the lecture back at twice the speed. Sure, it’s a little weird hearing a chipmunk lecture you on the history of Western civilization, but it’s over in half the time.

Fun in the Sun

Taking your MacBook out to get some sun while you skim tomorrow’s required reading seemed like a good idea, but the glare of the stupid sun ruined everything. Next time, press Control + Option + Command + 8. This will invert the colours and make it easier to read while you work on your tan.

Get Your Textbooks Online

We all know the textbook industry is a racket. Paying $100 for a book at the beginning of the semester and selling it back for $25 is called losing. You’re not a loser, though, and that’s why you know to get your Textbooks online. It’s cheaper, way less annoying than standing in that epic line at the bookstore and, again (because it’s important), it’s cheaper. Also, consider buying custom essays from professionals (and no, it’s no plagiarism)

Download Zotero

References are a serious pain. MLA, APA… FML. Zotero can help. It’s a browser extension that collects your research, organizes everything so you can find it all easily and – best of all – does the dirty work when it comes to citing your work. From footnotes and in-text citations to endnotes and bibliographies, Zotero has you covered in thousands of style formats (even if you don’t really need that many).

Dropbox is Your Friend

Using Dropbox may not be a ‘hack’, per se, but having it to use in college will make your parents jealous. Not only is everything securely backed up so you won’t lose your final paper when you spill beer on your laptop, but it’s also accessible anywhere you happen to be. Whether you’re in the library’s computer lab, on your iPad in the café or on your laptop at home, your work is readily – and remotely – available.

Take Digital Notes

The pencil + notebook method is as outdated as your dad’s sense of humour. Typing is faster than writing by hand, and digital notes can be organized far more easily than the sheets of your notebook.

There are a few great apps to choose from, and the only one that isn’t free (we’re looking at you, OneNote) comes with an excellent student discount. Best of all, searching for specific topics is as easy as hitting the ‘find’ button. Your notebook does not have a ‘find’ button.

Use RescueTime

Nobody’s perfect, and the Internet exists to distract to you during study sessions. One minute you’re Googling the topic of your next sociology paper, the next you’re reading about Kim Kardashian’s pants.

How’d that happen? RescueTime can tell you. It’s basically a digital snitch that procides reports on how you spend your time at the computer. Once you see how much time you’re actually spending on keeping up with Kim, you’ll be motivated to make some life changes.

Uber Efficient Study Time

SparkNotes is the new Cliffs Notes, but it’s for more than just books. With SparkNotes, you can get the quick-and-dirty on everything from psychology and sociology to chemistry and biology. It’s great for quick references, but with review questions and quizzes available, you can use it for full-service study sessions, too.

Wolfram Alpha is the Smartest Website on the Planet

Wolfram Alpha calls itself a computational knowledge engine. We’re not entirely sure what that means, but it is most definitely filled with knowledge. It’s a powerful calculator, statistical database and analysis engine, conversion tool, encyclopaedia, reference website and more – much, much, much more.

If you need to know a fact about anything, the definition of something, the amount of one thing in terms of another thing or even the population of North Dakota in 1973, Wolfram Alpha will give you the answer and more besides. Be warned, though – you could lose hours digging through the information contained within.

You can’t go wrong with any of these tricks and tools. Put them to use and you won’t just keep your GPA above water – you’ll save time doing it. That’s more time to spend with your friends, more time to call mom and, of course, more time to clean up after last weekend.