Opinion » Commentaries

Theeeeyyy're baaaack!

Students everywhere are back to school; here are some websites to help them out



You know the signs: Poly freshmen wandering around downtown with a glazed look in their eyes, elementary kids carrying backpacks bigger than they are: School’s back in session.

Between new classes, navigating campus, and settling into college life, students have a lot on their plate. Here’s a list of websites that should help streamline a bit of the crazy that is start of term.



It’s got everything from algebra and biology to physics and history. This site is, in a word, spectacular. Think of it as a Lynda.com for school subjects. Need to brush up on your quadratic equations? How about your pre-calculus? Cell structure? American history? Macro economics? For math students in particular*, having the guided lessons and exercises available can be a godsend. And the best part? The site is free.


Putting credit cards in the hands of college freshmen is like handing tactical nukes to Ghadaffi: It’s a good ol’ fashioned Bad Idea. Add the fact that debit cards make spending money seem like a disconnected fever dream, and it’s no wonder budgeting can be tough for new students on their own for the first time.

Mint.com lets you plug in your financial information and in return shows you a pie chart of all your spending habits broken down by category. Get an idea how much you’re spending on food, bills, entertainment, and the rest, all in one place.

It may not rein in the compulsively unorganized, but it’s a great starting point for getting a handle on your finances.



Gross Oversimplification Alert: Wolframalpha is like Google for facts, or equations, or, well, anything. Rather than return a list of websites, Wolframalpha returns answers. Need to figure out why the witchery of differential calculus results in X, Y, or Q? Wolframalpha’s got your back.

While the website can be helpful when it comes to checking your math homework after you’ve gone through the videos at Khan Academy, there’s so much more it can do. Want to know the nutritional value in a cubic light year of fried chicken? Done.



If ever there was an industry that deserved a good Project-Mayhem-ing, it’s the college textbook robber-barons. I know that raging against the textbook purveyors is a lot like trying to move the Titanic with a single paddle, but they still deserve a trip to the pillory.

That’s why Chegg is a great alternative for students dealing with the (absurd, obnoxious, criminal) high price of college textbooks. The site is, in essence, a textbook rental company. Students can expect to pay, on average, about half what they’d pay in the bookstore. At the end of the quarter or semester, you send the book back using a pre-paid label. And for you green types, Chegg plants a tree for every textbook ordered.



Unless you’re one of those types who enjoys the soothing sounds of death metal, sometimes trying to find a decent playlist of classical music to study to can be a pain. Half the time Pandora will take you from Debussy to Katy Perry in three songs, and iTunes’ radio stations can be hit or miss.

Enter Classical Music Online, the largest repository of free classical music on the Internet. As their website puts it: “from the recognized masters of classical music to the most contentious areas of the avant-garde.”

Students have enough going on. Hopefully, this will help streamline things a bit. Have a happy semester, everyone! 


* Speaking as a liberal arts major here … you engineering/comp-sci types can go snicker and make fun over in your corner.

Contact Contributor Nicholas Walter via Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach at aschwellenbach@newtimesslo.com.

Add a comment