Enjoy summer while it lasts, because before you know it, you’ll be off to school again. To help make the back to school transition easier, we’ve put together an arsenal of web sites, software and gadgets that will help make the upcoming school year semester more efficient and in some cases- even save you money! Read on for our Top 17 Tips, Tricks and Gadgets for Going Back to School.
Essential Web Sites:
Bibme – Free Bibliography Generator
There is nothing more dreadful for a student then writing a paper – except having to put together a bibliography, which can be even more dreadful than writing the actual paper. Between all the different formats and all the different citation rules, creating a bibliography can get confusing really fast. Fortunately, bibme.com makes it a cinch to put together a bibliography in MLA, APA, Chicago or even Turabian format – whatever that is! All you have to do is search for a publication by title, author or ISBN and bibme will bring you list of search results. You can then choose the right publication result and have it added to your bibliography. Once you’re done with all of your sources you can download all of your citations into a word doc. We can not stress about how much we wish we had this tool to use when we were in school!
AddALL – Textbook Search and Price Comparison Engine
Textbooks are way too overpriced, especially if you buy them at your local campus book store. So instead of buying a textbook locally, just enter a title or ISBN number into AddALL’s search and you’ll get a price list from sellers around the web. So not only will you be able to find the best possible price, but it’s also a great to way to find books that are sold out.
Bonus tip: Skip selling back your used text books from last semester at a local text book store that are notorious for paying a pittance, instead try selling them first on Half.com or Amazon where you’re likely to get most of your original investment back.
BookRenter – Rent Textbooks and Save $$$
Want to skip buying textbooks all together? With BookRenter, you just might be able to! BookRenter.com lets you rent books and the shipping both ways (including for returns) is totally free! This is a great way to avoid paying full price on a book that you’ll only use for a couple of months. Just make sure not to lose the book! While we’re on the subject of not buying books, it’s always worth checking out Google Books to see if there is a free ebook version of the book you’re looking for before you actually go ahead and buy it.
Fatwallet – Get Cash Back for your online purchases
Sign up for an account at FatWallet and you can earn cashback for your online purchases. For example, you can get 3% cash back from the HP Home Store, Sony, Buy.com… the list goes on. The site also has a directory of all the latest coupons and deals from most of the major online retailers. To date I’ve earned a total of $739.72 from FatWallet purchases over the past few years.
Get a StudentAdvantage Card – and get more Discounts
The StudentAdvantage card is a great card to get – if you’re someone who often takes advantage of some of the places that this card can offer you discounts at. For example, the card offers 15% off Amtrak tickets and 12% off reoccurring T-mobile charges. It’s worth checking out their complete discount list to see if it could be a good fit for you.
Comodo – Free Security Software with Firewall + Antivirus
Seriously kids, just because you’re young, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice safe computing. If you cant afford a full Antivirus/Firewall suite the likes of Norton Internet Security, well there is still no excuse. It’s a dangerous virtual world out there, and your computer needs to be protected. Comodo offers a great and totally free Internet Security suite to download, so go and get it!
Skype – Save money on calls with Skype, so that you can call your parents to ask them for money
Skype’s Unlimited U.S. & Canada subscription plan lets you make unlimited calls for just $2.99 a month. Besides, there are Skype apps for practically every device out there – your Mac or PC laptop, the iPhone, and most smartphones, so there is no excuse for you to not call home anymore. Skype also offers a great $13.99 Unlimited World plan for international calling. But if you insist on still using an old school landline handset, it’s worth checking out MagicJack or NetTalk Duo. Attach one of these little devices to your old landline handset and connect it to the internet. For a flat yearly fee, you’ll be treated with unlimited domestic calls for the entire year.
Get Dropbox – Because USB Keys are sooo 2007!
Download and install DropBox and the software will seamlessly sync your files across your computers. You’ll also be able to access all of your files via any web browser, or even an iPhone app. A free account will give you 2Gb of memory, and you can always upgrade to a 50GB account for $9.99 a month. Because losing that USB key with your homework on it is a total #fail! But being able to access, download, and even share your homework from any web browser – that on the other hand, is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
eType – Writing guide software makes writing papers less painful
Speaking of writing papers, eType is a free software application that is there to help you while you’re writing. The software works like a writing guide by auto-completing your words as you type them, so that this way you’ll type faster. It also helps prevent spelling mistakes before they happen, and helps you select the best word choices possible Finally, the eType also works as a dictionary for translating words in your native language so that you can be sure you are choosing the right word at the right time. Unfortunately at the moment eType is available just for PC.
Samsung S2 – A tiny hard drive packed with lots of storage
As great as services like DropBox and SugarSync is, for movies and large files you really still need a dedicated external hard drive. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be a bulky one! Samsung’s G2 hard drive is a diminutive and sleek drive that is small enough to fit in your pocket, plus it comes in a few great colors – and in capacities as big as 640GB for just $96.
Livescribe Echo Pen – You’ll never take notes the same way again
The Livescribe Echo Pen will truly transform the way you take notes in class. This magical pen is able to remember everything you write and HEAR in class, and you can digitally upload all of your notes. Tap any note with your Echo pen and you’ll be able to hear what was being said at that exact moment of writing. Pricing begins at $169 for the 2GB version.
Save Money on your Cell Phone Bill - with an Unlimited Prepaid Plan
If you’re on a budget, believe it or not, Prepaid plans can be the way to go. MetroPCS is offering a $40 unlimited talk, text and web plan. However, by going with them you’ll have to forfeit going with any fancy smartphones like an Android phone. Alternatively, T-mobile has a great line-up of Android smartphones and their no contract, pay upfront Even More Plus plan is pretty affordable to at $59.99 a month for unlimited talk and text. But if you’re budget is really small at the moment, Virgin Mobile is offering a $25 a month plan that includes 300 minutes – but still manages to include unlimited messaging, email, data & web. Besides, who talks on the phone nowadays anyway! You text instead!
Moshi Voice Control Digital Clock Radio – Talk back to your alarm clock
Waking up to go to class is always painful, and for some it’s harder than others. So along comes the Moshi Voice Control Digital Clock Radio that isn’t just an alarm clock, it’s a fully voice controlled alarm clock that also packs in 2.0 stereo sound for connecting to our MP3 player. Unlike most alarm clocks which are super frustrating to operate – you talk to the Moshi Digital Clock Radio and it will politely ask you at what time and alarm sound (AM, FM, or 3 pleasant alarms) you wish to be waken up to. The Moshi Digital Clock Radio retails for $69.95.
AUVIO 19″ LCD TV with iPod Dock – The affordable all-in-one TV and iPod Dock
Dorms rooms generally have as much space as a student has a budget. Fortunately the AUVIO 19″ LCD TV with iPod Dock is just the right size for a small space, yet it’s still budget friendly – and manages to pack in an iPod dock too. That’s not too shabby at all for just $169.99 at RadioShack.
Burton’s Fader Pack – Pack in all your gadgets and then some
Before you buy a backpack, make sure you get one that is wired up for sound. Burton has a history of making great backpacks with wired audio jacks. Their Fader Pack is one such pack, and also sports a padded laptop compartment, a cush ergonomic shoulder harness with a wired audio jack, along with a convent full-zip back panel for quick access to all of your gadgets. The Fader Pack retails for $83.97 and comes in dirty denim, flannel plaid, and bondage black.
HP G62 Laptop – The $499 luxury laptop
So you can’t afford a Macbook Pro or the sleek Envy 15? Well the HP G62 is the closest you’re going to get to those two if you’re on a student’s budget. The HP G62 looks a lot like those two laptops, as a matter of fact it looks a lot more expensive than it is. For just $499 you get a beautiful BrightView LED BrightView, 3GB of ram, a 320GB hard drive, an HDMI out port, all running on the AMD Turion II dual-core processor with Vision technology. For another hundred or so, you can also opt for the 17″ HP G72t series.
Buy a New Mac – and Get a Free iPod Touch
Through September 7th Apple is giving a free 8GB iPod Touch with every computer purchase – if you’re a student. This promotion runs every year, and it usually means that they’ll announce a new iPod touch as soon as the promotion ends – but heck, it’s worth it just to eBay the iPod and use some of the money towards your bill.