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    21 Genius Hacks That'll Make Students Say "How Come Nobody Told Me This Earlier?"

    Honestly, the Wikipedia tip is a total game changer.

    1. When using Wikipedia, replace the "en" in the URL with "simple", and you'll get a shorter, simpler version of the article that you can easily skim.


    This is especially useful for super dense and detailed entries when you might just want the highlights or an overview. For example, "" turns into "" with a version that even your sleep-deprived brain will understand.

    2. Don't buy a textbook unless you know that you actually need it. And if you do, rent your textbooks instead of buying them. It's cheaper and you don't have to deal with storing or selling them off after you're done.

    ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks / Via

    You could rent them from your school's textbook store or Amazon (ofc) offers textbooks and rentals. You just ship it back when you're done.

    3. Read reviews of a professor on Rate My Professors before you register for a class.

    A review for a professor on Rate My Professor
    Rate My Professor

    You can search for a professor by name or by your school. This is great to make sure you don't end up hating (or failing) a class you'd otherwise love! Each review has a percentage of how many reviewers would take the class again, a rating of the professor's difficulty and one for quality, comments, and more.

    4. If you're not allowed to cite Wikipedia as a source, remember that all the citations and references live at the bottom of the entry.

    A Wikipedia article on World War II showing the background with a citation, the citation entry, and the reference source for the citation

    If you're looking for the source for a specific statement, just click the numerical reference in brackets in or at the end of the sentence for the corresponding citation. Then click the link in the citation to be taken to the complete reference.

    5. Download any material your professor sends through Google Classroom directly to your device, instead of just adding it to your Drive.

    Fox Searchlight Pictures / Paramount Pictures / Via

    This will come in clutch if your professor deletes the material later on.

    6. Need literature? Search Project Gutenberg for over 60,000 free eBooks. You don't need any app, and you can Ctrl+F when you zone out during class.

    A cover of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen as shown on Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg

    I can personally attest to this online library. Guess who bought all the Herman Melville books for class, then discovered Project Gutenberg and never cracked a spine?? Seriously, nobody likes carrying five books around at a time. Books are available for download and in different formats (HTML, EPUB, Kindle, Plain Text, etc.).

    7. Similarly, Internet Archive is a nonprofit library with millions of free books, movies, music, and more.

    A scanned image of two open pages of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina from Internet Archive
    Internet Archive / Via

    Need to watch Gulliver's Travels (1939) or cite Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, check out the Internet Archive! There are even old newsletters, records, and more for you to find.

    8. There's also Z Library, which has almost 5 million books and 76 million articles.

    Books offered from Z Library, such as Architecture 101, Lord of the Flies, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, and Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy
    Z Library

    Z Library is funded by grants from the California State Library and the Kahle/Austin Foundation. If you don't need any textbooks, you could at least read some free eBooks for fun!

    9. Google by file type. For example, if you're looking for a PDF, type "filetype:pdf" before the name of whatever book or document.

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    Heard that math textbook is online somewhere for free? Save yourself the trouble and just search directly for the PDF!

    10. Export and submit your paper as a PDF (instead of a Word doc) so that you don't have to worry about the formatting or the file itself.

    Buena Vista Pictures Distribution / Via

    Double-check to make sure everything is in place, then you're good to go!

    11. Try a "Bible-safe" gel highlighter if your color coding is bleeding through your textbook pages!

    A reviewer's image of a page of their Bible that they highlighted, and the back of that page showing that the highlighter did not bleed through

    Since Bibles usually have super thin pages, "Bible-safe" highlighters are made specifically so that they don't bleed through even the thinnest of pages. You can check 'em out on Amazon for $6.99.

    12. Schedule your classes back-to-back so you can get through them all in one go.

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    You'll be less likely to skip if you don't have that two-hour block between O-Chem and that general elective you're taking this semester.

    13. Use a text-to-speech online reader to help you proofread your papers — OR to read notes back to you as you study!

    A screenshot of the text box for the online reader that says, "Paste your papers or notes here for the online reader to read it out loud. You can even choose which voice you'd like to read it for ya!"
    Natural Reader

    If you're editing your paper, you'll be able to catch mistakes or make improvements more easily when "someone" else is reading it out loud.

    14. Use a scanning app on your phone if you're taking pictures to submit handwritten assignments online.

    Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

    If your handwriting is questionable and the picture quality is bad, your grader will not be a happy camper. A $5 scanning app could make a big difference! Popular scanning apps include Scanner Pro (for iOS) and Scanner App (for Android).

    15. Talk with your professors after class (especially if you really enjoy the subject) and go to office hours!

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    You could introduce yourself and ask questions. You don't have to need homework help — you could get to know your professors and a better understanding of the material. Plus, professors have to hold office hours, so even if nobody shows up, they'll be sitting there...waiting. It's an easy opportunity to network (your professors could help you land an internship or job!).

    16. Set a screenshot of your class schedule as your lock screen.

    A screenshot of a phone lock screen with a weekly class schedule set as the background
    Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

    You'll always know where you're supposed to go (esp when you're running late!), and you won't have to wait impatiently for your schedule to load in the building with shoddy signal as you try to figure out which room number you need to be at.

    17. If your school has gone online due to COVID-19, consider completing your general requirements online through a local community college to save money.

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    Make sure the credits transfer, of course.

    18. Volunteer to answer your professor's questions and keep your camera on if you can during online classes.

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    Participation is always appreciated, but especially now when professors are lecturing into a camera. If you actively show your face and participate, your professor will more likely remember you, too.

    19. Reward yourself when you complete assignments ahead of schedule.

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    Procrastinating is so, so tempting, but try to Pavlov yourself by getting a treat when you finish things ahead of time, so you can build healthy habits instead.

    20. If your roommate won't turn off their phone alarm, call their phone to stop the alarm.

    Much Studios / Via

    They may have to be out of bed, but you sure don't. And it beats calling their name until they hit the alarm.

    21. Bookmark all open tabs in one click so that you can close out of everything and use your computer without a gajillion tabs running.

    A screenshot of the drop down menu showing the "Bookmark All Tabs..." option
    Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

    Click to expand your menu bar, hover over "Bookmarks," and "Bookmark All Tabs." Your laptop will thank you, too.

    And if you have any advice or hacks that you wanna share (esp in the age of Zoom University), feel free to drop 'em below!

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