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Use Friends Lists for a Better Facebook Experience

Use Friends Lists for a Better Facebook Experience

an class="full-image-float-right ssNonEditable">It's much easier than filtering out the data by hand! Image courtesy of the Smithsonian. In the public domain.

It's easy to get frustrated with Facebook. However, for college students, quitting it entirely can be difficult: it upsets your friends, removes the parts of the service that are useful, and makes it difficult to share things you create online with a large number of people. A mass friend cull, even if it's what you want, is time-consuming--cutting 500 friends down to 100 takes time. Plus, only having a few friends can raise social red flags that are frustrating to deal with, and people get their feelings hurt if they notice. However, using Facebook's friend list feature can make the service more useful, more fun, and less frustrating: a win as far as we're concerned.

The friend list creation feature can be accessed through the "featured friends" tab of the account settings (most easily accessed by clicking the "edit friends" icon in the friend list subheader on your profile). There's an option to create a new list--click it, and your friends should show up. Because creating a friend list is opt-in rather than opt-out, it goes pretty quickly to whittle yourself down to the 100 people you're interested in from the entirety of your friends.

You can filter your homepage by friend group by going to the "Most Recent" view rather than the featured news feed. Pull up the list that you created, and you'll have access to updates from people you care about. Change your main Facebook bookmark to that URL (the group's most recent news has a static URL), and you're good to go.

Create a Master Resume for Easy, Targeted Applications

Create a Master Resume for Easy, Targeted Applications

an class="full-image-float-right ssNonEditable">Your resume should be brief, but probably not t-shirt-sized. Image courtesy of Flickr user Social is Better. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.College students are in an awkward position when it comes to resumes. Because most of us aren't yet settled in a career path, it's difficult to come up with one document that will have relevant data for all of our applications for internships, jobs, and grad school. Some programs don't care about your club involvement on campus, while on-campus positions will be thrilled to know you're a club president; many internships want a mix of on- and off-campus involvement.

The easy solution for those of us who don't want to create an XML Resume is creating a master resume in our word processor of choice. It can be as long as you want. Create a document, formatted however you like, with everything you've done since graduating high school. Include jobs, internships, club affiliations, and personal projects. Name the document something that will alert you that this isn't the document you want to send--mine's named "Obnoxiously Complete Traditional Resume.odt." This is the resume that you will keep updated as you win awards, take on new positions, and complete research projects.

Then, next time that you need to submit your resume to an internship, research opportunity, or secret spy mission, pull up your master resume and cut out all of the positions, awards, and achievements that are irrelevant to what you're applying for.

Smell Good, Save Money, Look Crisp: Hack Your Laundry

Smell Good, Save Money, Look Crisp: Hack Your Laundry

an class="full-image-block ssNonEditable">Drying laundry on the quad is a hack for only the most experienced student. Image courtesy of Flickr user Jackie Kever. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.Clothes: you probably wear them, and eventually you gotta clean them. But, with a few simple laundry hacks, cleaning up your wearables can be quicker, cheaper, and less wrinkled—giving you more time to focus on wearing your clothes rather than maintaining them.

First off, before tossing something into the laundry, consider whether it needs to go in. Excess washing can damage the fabric of your clothing, and if you live in a place where you pay for laundry, it gets expensive. For heavier fabrics (particularly jeans) that may smell but which aren't actually dirty, there is a cheap and easy solution to kill odor without Febreeze or the laundry machine: the freezer. As weird as it sounds, popping a pair of jeans in the freezer over night will kill any lingering odor and leave them smelling like pretty much nothing (unless something in your fridge is spoiled). This works even in tiny built-in minifridge freezers—the important thing is to get the jeans pretty cold for a length of time. Your roommate may give you a weird look, but this hack really does work.

Fix Your Sleep Cycle for a Smooth Semester

Fix Your Sleep Cycle for a Smooth Semester

an class="full-image-float-right ssNonEditable">Dorm sleep is the best sleep. Image courtesy of Flickr user spentYouth. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.School's back in session, and if you're anything like most people, your sleep schedule is out of whack from a winter break spent with family and friends. However, getting back in the sleepy swing of things will help you readjust to school, quit feeling tired, and get more work done--it's a worthwhile thing to invest in.

The best way to begin a sleep cycle reset is by setting a schedule: have a consistent time you try to go to bed and try to wake up. If your earliest class is at 2:30 in the afternoon, you don't actually have to sleep that late. (It's true!) If you get up earlier, you can do more early-morning homework and have your afternoons and evenings free for things you actually like. Think of it this way: in the evenings, you're choosing between homework and friends. In the morning, you're choosing between homework and more sleep than you need.

As this article points out, the consensus is still that most adults need 7.5-9 hours of sleep a night. When in doubt, go with less: even adjusting your sleep schedule by a half hour can make you feel much more energetic than you would otherwise. The key is not to go to bed at 3 and crawl out of it at 7 in the morning--try for bed at midnight and waking up at 8:30.

As you're readjusting to classes, you're going to want to take naps because you're tired. Don't. Long naps will keep you up when you are actually trying to sleep, and that just messes up your sleep schedule even more than you already have. If you're so tired that you need to go to bed at 10 for the first few weeks of school, that's fine--it's much better than passing out at 5 and only getting three hours of sleep. If you're still having trouble falling asleep, try an exercise routine in the morning. A study showed that women who exercised for as little as 30 minutes in the morning had an easier time falling asleep than those who did not.

Mendeley Seamlessly Manages Academic Research

Mendeley Seamlessly Manages Academic Research

an class="full-image-block ssNonEditable">Mendeley lives online and on the desktop--like a very, very single-purpose Evernote.Mendeley is a social network that fits somewhere between LinkedIn and Facebook: instead of focusing on users' personal or professional lives, it's targeted towards academic connections. In addition to the social networking features, the cross-platform desktop service allows users to save and organize academic papers into "collections," tag papers, and annotate documents. Users are allowed 500 MB of online storage for themselves, 500 MB of shared storage for collaboration, and unlimited desktop storage--if a user is approaching the storage limit, it's easy to quit syncing papers which the user no longer needs cross-platform access to. Users are also able to upgrade to higher-storage accounts, which start at $5 a month.

Because Mendeley is so specifically intended for academic research, it's able to focus on a very niche, useful set of features. A particularly nice feature is the organization of documents by author, by journal, and by user-designed collection. In addition, the program allows for full-text search withing the documents themselves and for user tagging. Because of its large pool of users, Mendeley is also able to offer suggestions for other papers a user might be interested in based on what they've uploaded--a potential godsend for students at a research dead end.

Use Interchangeable Power Cords to Streamline Packing

Use Interchangeable Power Cords to Streamline Packing

This right here would be what we’re trying to avoid. Image courtesy of Flickr user tr67. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. When you’re traveling, packing up cords can be a much bigger pain than it ought to be. Most electronic devices in the Kindle/iPod/iPad/phone vein don’t take up much space, but syncing cords and docking ...

Use Stereomood for Focused Study Music

Use Stereomood for Focused Study Music

The best part is imagining yourself in the pretty urban cityscape. Oh, and the instrumental Pixies covers. Those are cool, too. If you’re someone who has to have music to study to, preparing playlists can take up more time than the actual learning. Particularly if you want to have control over what kind of music ...

Keep Your Body From Falling Apart During Finals

Keep Your Body From Falling Apart During Finals

an class="full-image-block ssNonEditable">These people followed our advice and are flu- and rickets-free. Image courtesy of Flickr user MC Quinn. Licensed under CC 2.0

Finals are approaching, and for many students that means hours of studying supported only by coffee and occasional sugar-filled study breaks. Not surprisingly, this wrecks your health, lowers your concentration, and makes you a dead person by the end of finals. Laura's already done a great job covering environmental hacks for finals--now we're focusing on how to keep your body from falling apart during study time. Here are a few ways to avoid that inevitable crash-and-burn cycle so you can finish up testing and head home for important winter break activities, like chugging egg nog until your arteries cry.

Get a flu shot - As soon as you can (preferably before you start taking your exams), get a flu shot if you haven't already. Your student health center probably provides them for free or cheap. You may normally have the immune system of a horse, but long periods of study punctuated by lack of sleep and bad food can reduce your immunity--and you don't want to be vomiting any more than you have to on your Computer Science final.

Winning Friends and Influencing People: College Cause Edition

Winning Friends and Influencing People: College Cause Edition

an class="full-image-block ssNonEditable">Manners go a long way in life. Image courtesy of Flickr user Paula Bailey. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.College is a time for people to get really involved in something they're passionate about, whether it's a Free Tibet, vegetarianism, their college political party of choice, or something else entirely. However, what starts out as a well-intentioned passion for social change can quickly take a nosedive into the realm of irritating (and alienating) everyone around you. Here are some tips to prevent that from happening and, hopefully, encourage others to listen to you.

Don't get confrontational: This is the particular problem of newly-converted vegetarians (especially if they came to it via PETA). There is nothing wrong with not eating meat (or only buying fair trade, or campaigning for a candidate), but there is something wrong with being rude to people who disagree with you. If, to use the vegetarian example, you rag on your friends every time they sit down with a dining hall steak, they will grow to hate you. However, if they simply begin to notice that you don't eat meat and ask about it, it can be the opening for a great conversation about why you've made the switch. You don't want your defining feature to be your cause, because that alienates people who don't initially agree with you. You want to be "Tim, my lab partner who uses Linux and doesn't eat meat," and not, "Tim, that asshole who glares at me when I grab a burger." There's a difference.

HackCollege Reading List: Concerning the Soul

HackCollege Reading List: Concerning the Soul

That kid looks happy. I bet he hasn’t learned to make small talk yet. Image courtesy of Flickr user Scott Ableman. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. “Yes, then you remember that once a professor said something like this to you, that the world was suffering from materialism and intellectualism. He was quite right, but he ...

Home for the Holidays: Explaining Your Major to Friends and Family

Home for the Holidays: Explaining Your Major to Friends and Family

an class="full-image-block ssNonEditable">"If he tells me to go to law school one more time, I'm gonna swing this bottle." Image courtesy of Flickr user Dennis Crowley. Licensed under CC 2.0

Students are gearing up to head home for Thanksgiving and winter breaks, and that means getting back into the swing of life with family--including explaining what you're doing at school to your parents' friends and your extended family. For some people (engineering majors and pre-med people), this is not so bad! For others, it can be a little stressful. Here's how to handle some of the most common less-than-positive results.

"So you're planning to go to law school?" or "A future teacher, I see!" - This one tends to be tossed at Political Science majors (and liberal arts majors in general) by people who see law school/teaching as a backup plan. This can be frustrating for people who actually do want to be lawyers or teachers, since it implies they're following a predictable path, and for people who are interested in other things (for instance, being the next Nate Silver) it's equally irritating. It's best to pick your battles--if it's someone you're only going to see once, laugh and say, "Anything's possible!" before finding some more eggnog. For family members and people who will be interacting with you when you finish school, a little more explanation can be good. If you are, say yes and give a short summary of what kind of law you want to do or why you want to become a teacher. If not, something like, "Actually, no. But I am planning to try for the Peace Corps!" will usually do the trick. You want to make the point that there are other career paths than law school or teaching that you can follow. Don't stress about one-off encounters too much, though--over the holidays it's best to save your energies for people who you'll be seeing again.

StudyBlue Creates On-the-Go Flashcards

StudyBlue Creates On-the-Go Flashcards

an class="full-image-block ssNonEditable">StudyBlue has the hippest layout since Tumblr and an excellent flashcard feature, to boot.If you're looking for a browser-based note-taking and flashcard tool, StudyBlue may be your new favorite site. Because the service is targeted specifically at students, it's organized in ways that closely mirror the binders of notes that it hopes to replace: data is organized by classes, and the two content options (note and flashcards) closely mimic their analog counterparts. However, unlike paper-based notes, these are accessible from any browser and can include rich text, sound, and images.

The easy-to-use interface and text formatting tools are strong points for the service. Sign-up takes thirty seconds, and only requires visiting the site's front page and clicking an email confirmation link. The formatting tools work just like they would in a desktop text editor, but they focus on what's useful for note-taking: lists, indentations, colors, and super- and subscript. I know that the science, tech, math, and engineering students I know have trouble taking computer notes because equations are difficult to type out. The dedicated super- and subscript buttons could make typing out STEM equations worlds easier. StudyBlue has nailed a feature that is rarely implemented as well or as cleanly as it is with the service. There is also a non-English character button, but cycling through it to get to the right Greek letter is probably less efficient than just learning the keyboard shortcuts for the letters.