Some people claim that college students are lazy and will do anything to lighten their workload. I say that college students are time management experts, searching endlessly for quicker ways to get the job done. Many of these savvy students have discovered online resources to help them with research papers, projects, and literary analysis.
It is for the benefit of my enterprising fellow students that I have, with the help of my roommates and other students, compiled the following list. Here, in no particular order, are the most useful, time-saving sites and a few words about what makes them so great:
1. Spark Notes
This site is organized quite well, making it easy to find what you need. Here you can peruse countless literary works complete with summaries and analysis. Their database is comprehensive, ensuring that you will find information on whichever piece you are looking for. While a free membership guarantees complete access to the site, the majority of the site’s resources are available without divulging your name or e-mail address.
2. Pink Monkey
More than just a catchy name, this site is run by Yahoo! and offers a good variety of free online guides for term papers and various research topics. If you prefer a printable version, it will cost you ($4 to $5). Beyond study guides, the site also offers test prep resources, college planning information, and even several online games.
3. Cheat Books
This site offers the famous Cliffs Notes study guides as well as several other similar brands like MAX Notes and Barron’s Book Notes. The site is run by Amazon.com and is unique in that it offers used and new guides. While the guides are not free, they are reasonably priced for the college student’s budget (from $.09 used to $3.55 new).
4. Set For Study
This British site has the most professional layout of the bunch, and is arguably the most extensive as well. It offers academic resources from around the world, including university databases from the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. While it is the slowest to load of any of these sites, it does offer a free membership with access to the entire network of databases.
While these sites are indeed quite useful and could save a lot of time for anyone working on an English paper, my personal favorite resource is this search engine. It is the most powerful engine I have used and it has never left me unsatisfied, academically. Just type a keyword or two into the search field, hit return and watch the results pour in.
The only caveat of this site and the aforementioned others is this: If the average college student can find what they need online, so can the average college professor- which means that your profs can tell if you’ve lifted any text or passages directly from an online resource.
However, knowing that students are not looking to cut corners in their work, rather they are merely striving to maximize the little time they have, I am confident that many will find these sites invaluable as a boon to the quality of life.