Focus on Research: HackCollege and Other Blogs That Help You Work Smarter, Not Harder

Over the course of an average week, I meet with at least one or two students who are struggling with time management and organizing a mounting pile of assignments. This is not an uncommon scenario, especially as many students feel overwhelmed with the task of figuring out for themselves how to accomplish many small tasks with firm deadlines. Since beginning this blog, I have made it a point to gather as many resources as possible to help students bring some direction and focus to the process of preparing for exams, writing papers, and learning how to navigate the differences between lecture and seminar classes. Still, I have also found that it is sometimes best to get this information directly from other students working their way through the challenges of university. Enter the world of student blogs.

HackCollege provides daily doses of tips and
useful info for university students written by
university students.
Perhaps the most useful, relevant, well-written (and humorous) blog I refer students to is HackCollege. Their motto "Work Smarter, Not Harder" is one of my favourite all time mantras and the student-run site is fully devoted to revealing "insider" tips and tricks to help get fellow students through the academic process. If you understand the original meaning of the term "hacker"-- an individual who is a clever and creative programmer and part of a subculture of individuals looking to best the system, you start to see the guiding ethos of a blog like this. Some recent posts such as "You Suck at Studying: 3 Lessons from a College Hacker," "Autopilot Your Meals for Cheap,"and "How to Find a Job in a Down Economy" give you a taste of what the site offers in terms of useful and pragmatic advice. Hack College also has their own YouTube channel and can be followed via their Facebook page or on Twitter.

Other similar and useful student-created blogs worth checking out include:

StudyHacks: originally launched by an MIT graduate student in 2007, the blog features useful content about becoming a successful and well-balanced (read happy) university student. sporadically updated, but retains archived content full of useful tips and strategies for students. primarily for graduate students writing theses but also very useful information, resources, and forums for all levels of university study. Don't let the retro-formatting of the site fool you-- this site literally saved me during my dissertation writing years!-- as it continues to help those braving the final years of grad school.

A motto for life, not just academia.
No doubt there is something refreshing and more authentic about  learning of the reality of academia from your own peers. This includes professors by the way-- I am an avid follower of ProfHacker, the Chronicle of Education's informative and popular blog devoted to disseminating tips about teaching and career management, featuring very candid posts from those working within academia about the trials and challenges of working within the university system (for any of you contemplating a career in grad school and beyond, I highly recommend a peak at this site from time to time!). Just remember, the best tips are usually the ones that help bring balance, simplicity, and more focus to your life. Work smarter, not harder.