College Tips & Tricks
Being a college student is probably one of the most expensive things you can do. Most of us here at Armor have had to experience this financial burden in some form or another, and know that finding even a penny to save can make all of the difference. We've gone ahead and compiled a repository of useful resources, textbook downloads, and other tools that might help make your college experience a little bit easier (and cheaper!) If you've got any other resources you would like to see added to this list, please feel free to contact us with the form below and we'll continue to build this list out.
When it comes to college courses, each one seems to "nickel-and-dime" us until we've got little to no money left for ourselves. The resources below are all free to use and can supplement (or in some cases, replace) the paid resources you might have for your courses. Now, in being free resources, they aren't always up-to-date, and some of the material may be incorrect or misleading, but they are definitely worth taking a look at, and at least integrating them into your current learning process.
- College Open Textbooks
- College Open Textbooks is a non-profit that used to supply open-source textbooks, but after 10 years, they have made a decision to redirect visitors to other resources they believe are more valuable for students, teachers, and institutions. These resources hava a ton of textbooks that might help with the subject of your choosing, but with the swell of college-written textbooks, you might not find the exact book you're looking for. Nevertheless, these are good resources for additional material.
- OpenStax falls under CreativeCommons and is a resource for open-source textbooks. With several sub-projects, OpenStax covers most of the realm of open-source college material and will supply you with additional materials to subsidize your education.
- OpenStax CNX
- OpenStax CNX is a resource under CreativeCommons, for open-source learning materials. These materials, like those from College Open Textbooks above, are more of a supplementary tool to the course materials but will offer tons of new ways to look at the same material. If you're looking for a different take on that equation, problem, or concept, OpenStax CNX has a book with examples for you.
- Library Genesis
- Library Genesis is a resource that indexes available text resources (both books and textbooks) and allows the user to search the database for what they're looking for. It offers several download mirrors, so these resources should be available with little downtime. With PDF and eBook formats available, you're sure to find material that is useful.
- FreeBookSpot functions very similarly to Library Genesis, as an indexed repository of available books online.
- Project Gutenberg
- Looking for a copy of Frankenstein for your English class? How about a copy of A Tale of Two Cities? Project Gutenberg is a repository of all of those common, public domain books that are littered in high school and college English syllabi.
- Free Programming Books
- Free Programming Books is a Github repository of programming books for all languages and fields of study. If you're looking to program software, create robots, or do basically anything else in the programming realm, this is a resource for you.
- Textbook Revolution
- Textbook Revolution is a student-run site dedicated to increasing the use of free educational materials by teachers and professors. On this site, you'll find links and reviews of textbooks and select educational resources. Some of the books are PDF files, others are viewable online as e-books, or some are simply web sites containing course or multimedia content.
- Open Textbook Library
- The Open Textbook Library is a repository for free (or super affordable) open textbooks. Open textbooks are textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. Each of the books offered here is either used at multiple higher education institutions, or affiliated with an institution, scholarly society, or professional organization.
- BookBoon is a repository of free eBooks and textbooks for all subjects. They boast being for "students [who] are focused and to the point" - with each book having been written by highly respected professors from top universities in the world.
- Coursera is a service that offers hundreds of different college-level courses to jump-start your college career and onward. Each course is like an interactive textbook, featuring pre-recorded videos, quizzes, and projects. You can connect with other students and debate ideas, discuss course materials, and get help mastering concepts. These courses usually come with a certificate of completion and competence, further improving your résumé and giving you a leg-up on your fellow students.
- edX offers hundreds of courses from reputable schools in just about every subject. Is your current schooling not offering enough of a challenge or enough insight into the topic you're interested in? Are you looking to jumpstart your college career? edX is definitely a resource for you to spend some time with!
- Discovery Education
- Discovery Education acts as the entire classroom - with instructors available to help with homework, online textbooks and courses, streaming of course content, and more. With a goal of professional development in mind, Discovery Education is the perfect tool to round out your education.
- Saylor Academy
- Saylor Academy is a resource that offers several college courses from reputable schools and even offers up to 90+ credits and a self-paced business degree. Another resource to take your education into your own hands, and complete at your pace.
- Compose bold, clear, nearly-mistake-free writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant. From grammar and spelling to style and tone, Grammarly helps you eliminate errors and find the perfect words to express yourself.
- Wolfram|Alpha is a service that has evolved a ton since we were in college, now offering a scholarly database on a plethora of topics from mathematics (the OG for Wolfram|Alpha), finance, media, art, design, physics, engineering, and basically any other topic you're looking for. This service will give you information about basically everything, from solving math problems to building color palettes and comparing colors using color theory - definitely a must-have tool for every student's toolbelt.
- This application is for mobile devices and allows you to take a picture of the math problem you're working on. The app will solve the problem, and show you step-by-step how it reached the answer it did. It also allows you to dynamically edit the results the app got from the image in order to increase the accuracy. A must-have for any aspiring number-crunchers.
- Anki is a program which makes remembering things easy. Because it's a lot more efficient than traditional study methods, you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn. Anki, a virtual flashcard application, allows you to store countless flashcards to improve your study habits. With media-rich support (support for audio, images, videos, and scientific markup) capabilities, Anki will take the hard work out of creating study material for you.
- Evernote is a free (with paid options) application that allows you to take your notes with you, no matter where you are. Evernote allows you to create detailed notes that are sharable from any device, and the free version allows you to actively sync between 2 devices. You can clip content from the web, or other files, and save it right to your Evernote, as well as using it to search for text inside of images. If note-taking is your weak point, let Evernote help you.
- Evernote Scannable
- To supplement the Evernote information above, the company also supplies their "Scannable" app, which allows you to scan any paper document, transforming it into searchable content almost instantly. Definitely a good one if you're taking extensive notes, or need to quickly find information from that textbook page.
Honorable Mentions / Paid Resources
Let's face it, free resources don't always capture the data that we're looking for. Not only that, but generally when the resource is free, it's update schedule is spotty at best and information can be misleading (or just plain outdated). Some of the resources below will require you to invest a little bit of money, but the return can definitely be worth it.
- Diigo is an application that acts as an organizational tool for all of your documents, images, web pages, etc. It allows you to highlight and save snippets right from different websites, upload images, highlight and makes notes on documents, and a ton of other functions. If organization is an issue for you, Diigo might be the tool for you. Running at $40/year, this tool ends up being less than $4/month, and is one you should have on your radar.
- Amazon Prime: Student
- Amazon Prime has become an integral part of how we operate here at Armor. Nothing beats ordering a part or product, and it arriving on our doorstep no more than 2 days later (that's right, they deliver on Saturday and Sunday). This same service is available at a discount for students and is something we believe is worth looking into. This will save a ton of headache when you need a specific product for a project you're working on, or if you forgot to order your textbooks on time. Amazon Prime is our recommended paid product for this list.
All of these resources should help to round out and complete your college learning experience. If you've got any suggestions for this list, please fill out the form below and we'll make sure to evaluate and add links as we can!