9 uni hacks every student should know
by Alexandra King
You've heard of life hacks, right? Little tricks, tips and shortcuts which help to solve every day problems. From stopping your pesky housemates stealing your food, to not spending all of your precious pennies – we’ve rounded up the nine you need to know to make uni just that little bit easier.
1. Pick up textbooks for a fraction of the price
Nobody likes to pay £80 for a textbook that will be used once and spend it's life gathering dust on the top shelf. Wherever you can, don't purchase your textbooks new. Instead, many third years or graduates will have the textbooks you need and they'll probably sell them to you a very low price to get rid of them. Check your Uni or course Facebook page, or use Amazon marketplace to buy secondhand.
There's a fair few other ways to save cash on textbooks - check out the 7 mistakes everyone makes buying textbooks.
2. Save reading time
If you plan on recording your lectures on a Dictaphone or laptop, play them back at twice the speed when studying to revise in half the time! It sounds silly but just try it - you'll still take in all the main points.
If you don't have any software already on your laptop, try Audacity - it's a sound-editing software which you can use for recordings and playback. You can also remove background noise, which could help if your lecture theatre is filled with sounds of coughing and shuffling papers.
3. Don't waste money on pens
Show your face at to your Freshers' Fair (even if you’re no longer a fresher). Most stands give away freebies, and if you’re crafty enough and can show enough interest in each of them, you'll gather enough pens and tote bags to stay stocked up for the whole year!
You can even get them from your local walk-in and sexual health clinic...providing you don’t mind rocking a pen from your local STI clinic in your lectures.
4. Harvard reference in half the time
Download Zotero, Neilstoolbox or something similar when writing essays and dissertations. It saves your online sources with the click of a button and makes citations for you in whichever format you choose. You will never want to manually write a Harvard Reference again!
5. You don’t need to take out 50 books from the library to write an essay
Google Books is your best friend. Search the full text of millions of books (typing the book name followed by .pdf often works) and cite them as though you have found them in person and read them. Huge time saver.
6. Get discounts at the supermarket
Make sure to check out the 8 ways supermarkets trick you into spending more.
The best time of day to shop is either around 3pm or around an hour before the shop closes. This is when the staff reduce food items with that day’s sell-by date on it. You can get some great discounts, particularly on meat. It’s all about being in the right place and the right time.
Also, don't shop for food when you're hungry (or inebriated). You'll end up with a cart full of quick-fix, high-carb solutions. Likewise, be careful with what you buy: "I don't need it now but that is a great deal"-type purchases add up far too quickly. Peer pressure is another killer - it's too easy to get sucked into a fad - for instance, I have 70 pounds of whey protein on me right now and I don’t even go to the gym.
7. Stop paying for dinner
All students appreciate free food. At the beginning of the term if you are dedicated, an awful lot of dinners can be free. There are so many events, club presentations, and so on which all have food for guests. When the semester is well under way companies often have talks and bites to eat. Join lots of clubs and attend club meetings for free meal. Better yet, start your own club, and then you can pick the food and have the uni pay for it - depending on whether or not you get a budget, of course.
8. Don’t iron
Shirt wrinkled just before a night out? Throw in the tumbledryer with a few ice cubes for 5 minutes. A quick fix your mum would not be impressed with, but this actually works!
9. Never have your milk stolen again
A little food colouring will defer any sneaky housemates from stealing your milk without your permission!