How to Find Cheap Textbooks

Textbooks are one of the most expensive costs for a college student, especially if you’re going into a major that is heavy on reading. If you’re a broke college student, finding cheap textbooks is a priority. It’s also not hard to do.

Do I need this book?

The first step is to figure out what books you need and how much you actually need them. I haven’t always used my textbooks, which led me to start asking the professor if the book is really needed. Most professors will be honest and tell you how much you need it. Sometimes you can get away with borrowing a classmate’s book if you only need the book a few times.

eBook or real book

Once you know you need a book, decide whether you want to buy a real book or an eBook. The upside to an eBook is obviously price and the downsides are that you have to read it on an electronic device and you can’t resell it at the end of the semester. Depending on your needs, make a decision.

Renting or owning

If you’ve settled on a real book, the next step is to decide if you want to rent or own the book. The upside to renting is it’s cheaper, but the downside is you can’t sell it at the end of the semester. If the book is going to be worthless at the end of the semester and you know this, go with renting. If you can sell it back to Amazon or another online marketplace with a textbook buy back program, own it.

Finding the best price

Throughout your search for a book, you will need to compare textbooks and find the best price…and the Internet is here to help. The easiest way to find cheap college books is to search websites for the ISBN and compare prices. There are tons of websites out there for you to compare prices easily and having the ISBN is the best way to do it.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year

How to Survive Your Freshman Year College is the perfect intersection of freedom and young adulthood: Never again will you be allowed to have that much fun while being responsible for so little. But as generations of students have learned the hard way, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by that freedom and go, well, a little overboard. Students who’d never had a problem doing homework find themselves tanking tests when there’s no one around to push them to attend class. People who’d always managed to have a thriving social life discover they’re about to become hermits. It’s a fun but intimidating time, and the best way to get the most out of freshman year is to remember a few key things.

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

Spoiler alert: You can’t do it all. Not even close. There will always be one more party, one more trip, one more event, one more night out, one more friend who needs a favor. College is about learning to prioritize and tell the difference between what you can do, what you want to do, and what you need to do. The biggest mistake freshmen make is taking on too much, whether in terms of course load or social commitments. If you want to get ahead, you’ll have to scale back.

Set up a schedule to follow each week and stick with it. (That’s the important part.) It doesn’t have to overly detailed or break down your life into 10-minute chunks. But you should be able to look ahead each week and know basically what you’re going to be doing every day and every night, from attending class to studying or just taking some time off to be with friends. If high school is juggling, then college is juggling chainsaws while riding a unicycle: It can be done, but it takes a lot more planning.

You should also plan for free time, too. That might sound counter-intuitive or just plain impossible, but it’s not, and it’s absolutely worth it. It’s a bad idea to skip through college without any kind of planning or time management, but it’s equally as bad to overschedule yourself. College is work, yes, but it’s also supposed to be a fun time of exploration and self-discovery and all those other fuzzy terms that basically mean “figure out what kind of person you want to be.” As you build time for study and class, leave open chunks for hanging out, eating, wandering the dorms, or just seeing what comes up. Seriously. That way you maintain a schedule and your sanity.

Avoid Credit Cards

Bankers have sent their own kids to college on the fees they collect from freshmen who make the mistake of signing up for credit cards without understanding the responsibility required. Every incoming freshman finds his or her mailbox clogged with seemingly awesome offers from lending agencies dangling the promise of easy credit and a life of luxury. What a lot of freshmen forget is that they don’t have any money, or jobs, or the ability to do anything other than buy a cheap sandwich in the cafeteria. That makes getting a credit card an almost suicidal risk.

Building credit is important in the long run. It shows banks that you’re trustworthy, it gives you access to better interest rates on loans, and it generally makes you feel like an adult. But it takes years of controlled work to do that, and college isn’t the time to start. Managing credit means using cards wisely, and only to make purchases you could buy with cash at that moment. Credit cards aren’t for making big buys that aren’t in your budget; they’re for showing banks you’ve got enough cash and maturity to pay your debts in full. Getting into credit card debt while you’re still in college means you’ll be under the thumb of major lenders before you’ve even gotten your degree, let alone found a job that will give you the money to start paying those cards off.

There’s plenty of time to be an adult and work with the complicated payment structures that come with credit cards. College is not that time.

Establish Your Independence

In other words: Don’t go home too often. College is a crucial part of the development process as students make the often rocky transition from childhood to young adulthood, and it’s tempting to make frequent trips home in an attempt to recapture the safety of the nest. It’s understandable, too. Many freshmen spent 18 years in a perfectly welcoming environment (typical dramas notwithstanding), and after only knowing one home environment, it’s a shock to be placed in a world with thousands of other students all going through the same basic emotional crises. You want to escape to a place where you know the rules.

Unfortunately, that’s detrimental to your long-term success as a student and a rounded human being. Independence is usually hard-earned, and that means getting used to being bored or rejected or even alone on campus. It means meeting people and making friends. It means shaking up your established routines and coming up with new ones. It means staying away from home.

Need to get your laundry done? Look for change. Hungry for a home-cooked meal? Organize a get-together with students at a professor’s house. Your parents are going to be there to support you as you work through the challenges of college, but you actually have to do the work on your own this time. (And if they’re like most parents, they’re probably happy to help you as much as possible but reluctant to have you extend your childhood. They’re ready for you to start growing up.) College teaches resourcefulness and problem-solving, but you won’t be able to learn those skills without first relying on yourself.

Don’t Rush the Big Choices

Freshman year can feel like a barrage of life-or-death questions: What’s your major? What do you want to do? Where do you want to live? Do you want to go out sometime?

Those are all, to be sure, pretty big decisions, but the good news is that you’ve got more time than you’d think to figure out how to make them. For instance, you don’t have to commit to a major when you begin your freshman year, and many schools don’t push you to declare until you start your sophomore run. That doesn’t mean you can slack off your freshman year — you should still take your school’s required courses, usually speech, English, math, an elective, etc. — but it does mean you’re free to explore topics that interest you and get a feel for where you fit in at school.

Your major will be a guiding force in your education and career, and it’s not a choice to be made lightly. One of the worst things you can do is select a major because you don’t want to weigh any other options, or if it’s something you don’t like but are betting you will come to love in time. (The odds are slim.) Take your time on this one. Take a month, a semester, a year. Don’t just leap; look carefully. This is a great opportunity to get to know your guidance and career counselors, as well as professors in fields that grab your interest, to find out what’s required by students in your prospective major. Check out employment prospects with seniors or counselors. Do some Googling.

The real lesson in picking a major is to learn how to examine yourself and figure out what you want, then take the steps to get it. That’s not something you can knock out overnight.

Get Some Sleep

Really, do it. Get some good sleep as much as you can. Your mental and physical health depend on it. A 2009 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that only 30% of college students surveyed got more than 8 hours of sleep a night, while more than 68% percent (!) had trouble sleeping because of stress related to their academic or personal lives. As a result, students with poor sleep habits turn in greater numbers to over-the-counter drugs to regulate their sleep cycles and moods. This, if you were wondering, is not good.

Robbing yourself of sleep means relying more heavily on medical cheats to get some rest, and it also has a negative affect on your performance during waking hours. Sleep-deprived students tend to perform worse in class and on tests than their more rested counterparts. Your body becomes sluggish, your brain has to operate through a thick fog, and your moods become more erratic. Basically, depriving yourself of sleep is a shortcut to having a terrible time at college.

So what do you do? It’s related to the time management issue that confronts so many freshmen. A lot of students stay up too late the night before an 8 a.m. class, or they simply try to live on less sleep out of a fear they’ll miss something amazing if they go back to their dorm to rack out. The “fear of missing out” is a real one, and it leads to some hectic and damaging hours. Don’t cheat yourself out of some healthy sleep. It’s one of the best things you can do to stay healthy.


If there’s one overriding piece of advice freshman should heed, one thing that feeds everything else, it’s this: Strive for moderation in all things. Party, but party responsibly. Work hard, but leave time to relax. Make new friends, but give yourself time to recuperate. Don’t shy away from big choices, but don’t rush into them, either. Lean on your folks, but not too much. Freshman year is like nothing else. If you do it right, you’ll never forget it.

Article supplied by the writing team from

Choosing Your College Classes

Guest Post: Madison Hewerdine is an author who writes about health insurance attorneys and has a passion for dancing.

Picking out your college classes can sometime be just as stressful and hectic as picking from the many different health insurance attorneys. You have to first figure out which classes you are required to take, these are normally called general classes. The general classes are required but you still have to figure out the timing to fit them into your schedule.  You then have to figure out what classes you want to take each semester for your major and minor. Only after you have finished these can you figure out the classes you want to take for fun or for extra help.

Here are some tips to help you as you’re figuring out your class schedule:

  • Use the required classes as a base. As you are going through trying to pick out your classes, pick out and map out the classes you are required to take first. These include your generals and the classes you need for your major.
  • Map out a four year plan. Before you sign up for classes you should map out a four year plan. Then each year after you originally map it out you modify it each semester you sign up for classes. You modify it to make sure it is accurate in what you are required to take and what you have already taken.
  • Make a list and prioritize. Make a list of the classes you want to take and put it next to your list of required classes. Prioritize the classes or rank them according to what classes are most important. After this you will be able to figure out where you can make sacrifices as far as your classes and scheduling goes.
  • Ask around. Once you have figured out what classes you need and want to take you have to figure out the scheduling and the teachers. Sometimes you will not be able to pick a teacher or a time that you want but you should try to make it work the best you can. However, when you can choose your teachers and the times of classes, ask around. Ask others about the teachers you have and what they think about them.
  • Go to class. Go to more classes than you need the first day. You will get to see all the different classes and teachers and be able to choose better what you want for yourself. After you decide, you can drop the classes you don’t want to keep.

Best Practices in Taking Notes for College Students

The mere fact that you’re taking down notes means you wanted to retain the information you wrote down. With that said, you should know exactly what you need to write down otherwise you’ll end up with too much garbage in the information you tried to acquire.

  • Identify what’s new to you. There is no point writing down something that you already know. Why will you write down the information you’ve known from the heart?
  • Determine whether your professor will most likely use the information later. Focus on things that directly demonstrate the lesson you’re studying including pertinent names, places and dates.
  • Tricky information. We are well aware that our professors always try to trigger our logical mind by setting out traps and tricky questions in their examination. More often than not, the answers to these traps are given out during their lectures – not in the book. If you are particularly keen about observing such habits then it will be easier for you to crack it down.
  • Side comments. Sometimes, side comments are ignored or considered unnecessary. However, most practical questions and answers can be found on side comments whether during lectures or books.
  • Doubts. Your doubts and questions are the best source of useful information especially when you are faced with a tough exam ahead. There is not a single student in existence without questions about a certain lesson. If you have doubts, write it down and verify it in your research later on.

There is no easier way to face college than to plunge into it headlong.

How to Make the Best Out of Your Semester

Most students worry about making the best out of their semester which is usually gauge by the lessons you have learned throughout. But a more important thing is – how?

Organization This is usually self-explanatory for college students who have a hard time coping with time management and even studying. But here are some practical things you can follow –

•Take notes – “A dull pencil is better than a sharp mind.” This is usually one of the greatest adages that you can follow about studying and learning. There are things that your sharp mind tends to miss later on but when you write everything down on your notebook or post-it papers you enhance your chance at remember it later on.

•Agenda list – It is important that you make a regular weekly list of itinerary. Your agenda should give you sense of direction and purpose making everything better every day.

•Real time inbox – This is a figurative term which simply refers to a permanent place in your room or apartment where you study. This is where you will place all your notes, books and assignment papers.

•Get to know your professors – Search engines usually give you short biography on your teachers. Alternatively and more accurately, you can search about them in your school library. Learn about their research interests and knowledge.

•Study partner/mentor – The secret to success is not about being alone but being able to find someone who can understand your habits and study style.

How to Improve Your Performance on a Written Exam

“In life, you take the exam first before you learn but in college you learn first before taking the exam.”

There are two primary skills that you need to practice and learn about namely –

  1. Time management
  2. Deduction

Time Management

When you are taking a written exam, the first thing you need to do is to allocate an enough time for you to complete the total items of the exam. This is what proper time management is all about. If you don’t allocate enough time for each of the item, you wouldn’t have enough time to think. The best things that you can do include –

Sort out the Exam Questions

There are three categories by which you can divide the sets of questions during an exam but even though this takes time the end result is usually worth it. The three categories include –

  • Questions you know well (easy questions)
  • Questions you know better (moderately hard)
  • Questions you know nothing about (hard questions)

If you go through the examination items, answer the easy questions first since they usually don’t take too much time followed by the moderately hard questions. More importantly, allot more time on the hard questions since they would usually take time to answer.

Do not leave any items blank especially on items that you know nothing about. Sometimes, the best guess is the best answer rather than leaving the space blank.


The power of deduction is usually related to answering questions especially in the moderately hard and hard questions. By using this skill, you will be able to arrive at an answer that most people would call “educated guess.” Deduction merely takes off two erroneous answers basing on factors.

Being Productive While Commuting

Generally, it is not good for the eyes to read while on the road. Well, I beg to differ – most of the time we spend at least 30 minutes walking to get to our classes.

Thirty minutes can make a big difference in your learning experience. Here’s how to be productive while commuting –

  1. Listen to audio books, podcasts and class recordings – It has been proven that listening can significantly improve your knowledge base. It helps you discover the things you might have missed before.
  2. Always keep flash cards with you all the time – Flash cards are easy to read and it doesn’t even take 30 minutes to cover everything.
  3. List your priorities for the day – You can list on a piece of paper your itineraries for the day so that it is easier for you to stay on track.
  4. Proofread your papers – You can scan your papers and check for grammatical, spelling and sentence construction errors.
  5. Scan class notes – Reading while you are on the move is a big no-no thus it is better to scan your notes or probably take a peek on highlighted texts.
  6. Return calls and text messages – If you missed some calls and messages, the great time to respond or take a call is during your commute.

Finally, learning how to relax through breathing techniques while you are commuting is a great way to become productive.

Benefits of Trade School

We have touched on alternatives to traditional colleges before, and it is definitely worth another look. If you were raised like I was, your parents only advocated for college. Trade school was never a thought in their mind, and mine because of it. However, if you have struggled with traditional academic programs, you should think about trade school.

Benefits of Trade School

They teach you a trade. Instead of focusing on a broad range of academics, with a focus in one area, trade schools teach you one specific trade. Examples include accounting, cooking, dental assistance, medical billing, paralegal, HVAC, etc. Once you graduate from a radiology program, for example, you will be able to enter the workforce as a radiologist. If your trade needs a certification, the schools will arrange and prepare you for the test.

Trade school programs often have smaller classrooms, which gives you more one-on-one time with the professor. Your peers are also taking the same classes so you can easily form study groups. This can also help you build meaningful contacts to help your career.

Studies have also shown that employers show a preference for students with tech school diplomas because they already have the know-how and hands-on learning.

The best benefit of all, it’s quicker and cheaper. Graduating from college takes 4 years, on average, while trade school is much quicker. Some programs are only 6-10 weeks and some take 2-3 years. Either way, your overall expenses, including tuition and fees is much less than they would be if you went to a four year university.

How to Survive a Pop Quiz

Some professors like to torment their students with surprise quizzes and in-class assignments to see if they’re paying attention and keeping up with homework. If you haven’t been paying attention and you aren’t a good test taker, you may fail the assignment. Here are some tips to give you a chance at passing a test you’re not prepared for.

Multiple Choice

  • If two answers are extremely similar, it’s usually one of these two
  • Correct answers will almost never spelling or grammatical errors
  • For numbers, you’re safest choosing a number in the middle
  • Watch out for absolute answers, such as “always” and “never”
  • More often than not, “all of the above” or “none of the above” is correct

True or False

Some professors like hiding trick questions in true or false exams, so be extra careful when reading the questions. You only have two choices, which mean that you have 50% chance of getting the correct answer.

  • Lookout for small contradictions or inaccuracies. If one detail is false, the question is false.
  • Take note of qualifiers in the sentence like most, all, sometimes, never or rarely. They sometimes drive the question false depending on the question presented.
  • Watch out for absolutes – things usually aren’t “always” or “never” (see how I always use most of the time)

How do you handle a surprise exam that you have never prepared for?

I just registered for college…now what?

College is the turning point in the life of most students. But, achieving academic success in college is also a struggle for most. How do other students manage to achieve their goals?

Selecting the Best Place to Study

The most convenient way to study is the dorm room if you are living in one but it is usually a very poor place to learn anything. It is a haven of temptations and distractions from television to friends going about the hall to your bed. Studying in your dorm room is bad enough and lying down on your bed while studying is even worst. Before long, you will realize it’s already morning and you still have not gone further than page 1 paragraph 1 of the book you were holding.

Therefore, the first thing that you need to do is to find yourself a study place. It should be a place that will promote learning, productivity, efficiency and concentration. It should be the place where you spend your time working on your academics.

You can try to experiment on what works for you. Make a set of criteria like the level of noise, availability, cleanliness and accessibility.

Developing Study Skills

Once you have found the perfect place to study, you need to get started on developing your study skills.

  • Break subject matters into manageable chunks
  • Use your free time during daytime to study
  • Spend more time on difficult classes
  • Review notes, ask questions and discuss things with peers

All of these are the basic skills you need to work on. You will achieve academic success in no time if you follow them religiously.

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