Starting college can be a bit overwhelming at the outset. There is so much to get used to. And it can be difficult to navigate the best prices and figure out where to go to find out what you need. The good news is that there are a number of resources and tools available online for students. If you are an incoming freshman, here are 25 essential web tools to help you start off on the right foot:

Cheap Textbooks

800px-TextbookThere are few things in college life as disappointing as seeing how much a textbook costs. Your best bet is to look for used textbooks. But even used textbooks can be pricey at the university bookstore. Instead, consider these sites that provide interesting solutions to the textbook problem:

  1. Chegg.com: This is an interesting web site that provides textbook rentals. For a fraction of the cost of buying, you can rent your textbooks. They are shipped fast, and at the end of the semester, you can ship your books back to Chegg for free. Plus, since textbooks are constantly reused, you are helping to save a few trees.
  2. Screw the Bookstores: You can list your own textbooks for sale, or find a used textbook for much less than paying the regular price. This is a site that helps individuals get more for their used books than the bookstore would pay to buy them back, while at the same time offering cheap textbooks.
  3. Affordabook.com: You can use this web site to search for textbooks by author, keyword, title or ISBN. You can even search by university name, getting a class list related to participating schools. Books are cheap, and www.affordabook.com also searches its partner sites for good deals. The web site even includes money saving tips.
  4. CheapBooks: Just what it sounds like, this web site provides you with the ability to find inexpensive textbooks. Not only that, you can sell your books back through CheapBooks to earn cash. Browse by subject, or look. There are also textbook rentals available.

* It is also worth noting that some universities and colleges have their own online textbook exchanges and listings. You might be able to strike a deal with fellow students using these types of web tools.

Finding an Apartment or Roommate

Sometimes, freshman come to school hoping to find a cheap apartment, or look for a roommate. Sometimes previous plans fall through. In any case, it can help to know where to look. Here are some online tools for apartment hunting.

  1. Campus Roommates: This site helps students find roommates near campus. If you need a place to stay, or if you are looking to find someone to help share the rent, you can search for potential roommates by state and school.
  2. College Apartments: Find what’s available near your college or university. This site allows you to browse listings from a number of institutions of higher learning and find housing nearby.
  3. Rate My Apartments: Worried about what you will find when you get to your new home? You can use Rate My Apartments to find quality housing, and read reviews about different experiences with landlords and rental conditions.
  4. Campus Grotto: This site, offering helpful information on college life, has partnered with Apartments.com to help you find a housing arrangement near your specific college or university.

Class and Professor Reviews

Many freshman find themselves unpleasantly surprised when they take a class they thought might be interesting, or when they choose a professor that turns out to be inordinately difficult. Before you sign up for a class, consider these web tools that can help you find the best professors and classes.

  1. Rate My Professors: This site allows you to look for ratings of professors, and their courses, offered by fellow students. You can also add your own ratings and feelings about professors you have had. Search reviews by school.
  2. Rate A Prof: This site is a little edgier, and shows a bit of attitude. But it does offer a number professor ratings.
  3. StudentsReview: Forget the college rankings and what “experts” say. Learn what your peers have to say about different colleges, what to expect, and what classes to take.
  4. America.edu: This web site focuses on reviewing various degree programs, so you can get an idea of what degree programs your school excels at.

Student Organization and Study Aids

You will need to be able to keep track of your new schedule, as well as find some study aids to help you better focus. These tools will help you stay organized and efficient. Just make sure you schedule time for a little partying.

  1. CollegeRuled: This is a great scheduling tool. You arrange your school schedule by semester, and even keep track of assignments and other study aids. You can even sync up CollegeRuled with your Facebook account.
  2. Evernote: Use this program to keep track of important information for assignments, take notes on your classes and organize all of the information into something searchable.
  3. Orchestrate: Create multiple to-do lists and manage your tasks. This can allow you to break down your schedule, assignments and study sessions according to class.
  4. Rainlendar: You can create a schedule, and add regular to-do items to a task manager that helps you know where to be. You can also put this on your desktop for increased ease of use. Putting everything from what class you should be in, to when bills are due, to your mom’s birthday, in one place can help you better manage it.
  5. Google Calendar: You can customize this calendar according to your needs. Email reminders help you keep on top of everything.

Tutoring, Study Guides and Term Papers

If you need a little help getting a piece of literature, or if you need some extra help with a specific subject, you can go online to find what you are looking for. There are even web tools that can help you better organize your term papers.

  1. College-Cram.com: You can access a number of study guides on this site that can help you refresh your memory and gain a better understanding of your subjects.
  2. Online Tutoring: Get specific and personalized help via the Internet with this online tutoring web site.
  3. Acing College: Get help with homework, find instruction and even sign up for regular tutoring. If you find your academic life could use some help, you can find what you need here.
  4. Zotero: This is a Firefox extension. It helps you keep track of sources for term papers, and then allows you to easily add them, properly formatted, into your term paper.
  5. I-Search Paper Format Guide: Use this handy guide from Gallaudet University to figure out how to get started writing with your term paper, as well as find information on different styles and formats, and how to include different information in your paper.

Free Stuff, Coupons and Promos

College students are often strapped for cash. These sites can help you find great deals, promos and even free stuff.

  1. Coupon Sherpa: Get online promo codes, printable coupons, local deals and even electronic coupons that can be scanned from your iPhone.
  2. Volition: Find free stuff from the oldest site of its kind on the web. A number of products and services can be found for free — saving you money.
  3. JustFreeStuff: The latest offers and freebies from around the web.
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