With sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram ever-present in our lives, it may seem like young people only use technology to socialize and share. But rest assured, college students use the internet for things other than socialization. As a student who does not frequently use social media, I am offering insight into other ways college students use technology to be successful.
Research: Google Scholar and Bibliography Generators
Many students come to college thinking they know how to write a solid research paper, only to see their confidence take a hit when they receive their first real assignment. Gone are the days when you can get away with citing Wikipedia as a source. In college, academic work will come under closer scrutiny than students are used to, meaning students need to know how to find peer-reviewed academic journals and studies to support their arguments. A great place to start is always Google Scholar. If you think this sounds like an obvious tip, congratulations; you are already one step ahead with your research skills! If not, you may find that after just a few uses, Google Scholar will become your go-to first stop for all your research needs.
Google Scholar is a free source that provides scholarly sources tailored to the user’s search terms. It is a good way to find credible articles, books, and more about your research topic. Google Scholar also allows the user to search by narrowed criteria, for example, year of publication or author’s name, making it easy for first-time researchers to navigate.
After you do your preliminary research, you will most likely need a bibliography to cite your sources. This can be a painful part of writing research papers, but the good news is, there are websites that do most of the work for you! There are many websites that allow users to enter basic information about a source, like author, publication year/city, and page numbers, and the website will generate the bibliography. Common examples that I have used include NoodleTools and EasyBib, although, everyone has their preferences. It is important to check with your professor before using these sites so you know what citation format they prefer, but most professors recommend these sites (and probably use them themselves!)
If you haven’t started already, college is a key time to start networking. Making connections with professionals will make it easier to get an internship or job (before or after you graduate), or simply to learn who is working in the field you may be interested in. LinkedIn is a professional network that students can join for free, and it can be used like an interactive resume. It is considered a social media site, but differs from sites like Facebook because it is used primarily for professional networking rather than social networking. On LinkedIn, you can make a profile with information like the degree you are pursuing, your past work and activities, your professional interests, etc. Other LinkedIn members will then be able to request to connect with you, and you can request to connect with them. LinkedIn will suggest potential connections for you based on your interests and who you are connected with. You can also view and apply for job openings, and organizations can search for job applicants based on user profiles.
College on a budget: StudentRate and Budgeting apps
Most college students know what it is like to live on a tight budget. When you are accumulating student loans, the last thing you want to do is waste money on expensive textbooks or furniture for your dorm or apartment. StudentRate is a site that provides giveaways, discounts, and price comparisons for students on everything from clothes and technology to scholarships and loans. When you click on each tab, StudentRate will offer current discounts with links to outside sites. Personally, I use StudentRate most often for buying textbooks. It allows users to enter a book title or IBN and compares the prices for buying or renting that book across several major book sites. StudentRate also has a travel tab that provides price comparisons for flights, hotels, and car rentals. A few of my friends used it to find cheap flights for studying abroad (and ended up paying less that the prices they could find on other flight comparison sites).
Decorating your new apartment or planning a trip abroad is exciting, but while you are shopping, it is important to budget responsibly. Although I don’t use budgeting apps, several of my friends use apps such as Mint and Easy Envelope Budget Aid to help them manage their spending. Mint links to your bank account and provides alerts when there are unusual charges, as well as personalized money-saving tips tailored to your spending habits. EEBA can link with multiple devices, making it easy for individual or family/group budgeting. With a high-tech system that simulates organizing cash into actual envelopes, it allows you to check the balance in each envelope before spending and plan accordingly.
Whether you need to write a killer research paper, find a job, or want to save money on your spring break trip, you can find a website to help you do it. The ones above have worked well for me, but don’t hesitate to asks friends and professors for additional recommendations about how to use the internet to succeed in college.