A Student’s Guide to the Internet

Photo courtesy of Jacob Audick


I hope by now that we all know what the internet is, but in case some of you are wondering, the internet is the system of networks interconnected between devices to provide you with access to information from all around the world. It should come as no shock that with all of that information floating around out there that the internet can be a pretty intimidating place for some people. However, there is no need to fret or fear, for I, your friendly neighborhood Patriot, am here. I have collected several internet resources that I believe can benefit you academically, emotionally and financially.

So firstly, I hope you’re not using Microsoft Edge as your internet browser. The new color scheme isn’t enough to remove the bias we all have against its predecessor, Internet Explorer, and I would be remiss to pretend otherwise. These days, Google Chrome is the only real option, albeit the new Firefox Quantum is a close second in my book. Regardless, all of the following sources should work in whatever browser you choose, but do note that I can only speak from my experiences with Google Chrome.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s start with the most dangerous resource of them all: YouTube

YouTube is already well known for the incredible diversity of its videos, and in fact, it is that diversity that can get us into trouble. To use YouTube for school requires a significant amount of self-discipline. It is incredibly easy to get lost down a rabbit hole that somehow leads you from “Trigonometric Integrals” to “World’s First Cat Lifeguard.” However, if you are able to restrain yourself from clicking the all-too-alluring thumbnails of well-dressed kittens, there are numerous videos explaining — for free — various academic topics making YouTube one of the greatest resources for those of us who are visual learners. A quick tip would be to use a browser extension to remove the recommended sidebar from videos. This way, your attention can be entirely devoted to the video you intended to see. Or, creating multiple accounts can symbolically signal your brain to shift from entertainment mode to education mode.

Similarly, Mason offers a considerable amount of resources for finding information online. The Mason Libraries website allows you to search through their databases to find books, articles and more that you have free access to as a student. Additionally, Mason has partnered with LinkedIn Learning, which houses many (now free for us) educational courses ranging from entrepreneurship to programming. Speaking of programming, if any of you want to improve your typing speed, I would also recommend Keybr.com. It’s simple interface makes it easy to use, and if you make an account, it will track your progress over time. There are even multiplayer modes for those competition junkies out there.

As for those of us who have trouble focusing, relaxing and sleeping, Rainy Mood is a website and app that plays lovely ambient rain storms on repeat forever. You can use it to help you focus, to help you relax after a long day and even to help you fall into a deep and restful slumber. I’m not sure why, but I love the organic white noise during really long study sessions. If I ever get bored of it, I know it’s time to take a break. Additionally, if you have a problem with maintaining a consistent sleep schedule like I do, you may find sleep calculators to be particularly beneficial. Sleepyti.me, for instance, can show you the best times to try falling asleep in order to wake up feeling more rested by using the concept of completed sleep cycles. So, on a night where you stay up way too late cramming (or playing Teamfight Tactics), I’d recommend checking the site to see what cycles you have left to work with. That way you might still be sleep deprived, but at least you’ll be a little less groggy.

Last but definitely not least, let’s talk about money. College students are often regarded as having very little money. Perhaps students are just bad at managing their funds, or perhaps it’s the terrifying amount of student debt that hovers over some of our heads. Regardless of your situation, we all could probably use more capital, and thankfully, there are many, many organizations who are willing to help us, even if just a little. UNiDAYS is one such website that collects the offers of several different stores and puts them all on a silver platter for you to choose from. Once you verify you’re a student with your school email, you will have access to a plethora of discount codes and deals. BigWords is probably even more useful for college students as it searches the web for the cheapest deals on textbooks. Search by ISBN, title, or author and it will show you the market price as well as some cheaper options from around the internet.

All in all, the internet is an amazing resource for students, and free unadulterated access grants each of us the opportunity to grow and learn from people all over the world. While yes, there are some negative or even dangerous things out there, the mere ability to communicate with people at the blink of an eye is paramount to its potential. The internet, in the end, is a tool for you to use, and like with many tools, there are good and bad practices. So, as long as you stay safe and have fun, there are so many more interesting programs available for you to explore.