Whether you’re a student who has never been to college before or you’re returning to school after several years of being in the workforce or taking care of your family, seeking out and using the right resources will help make your college journey smoother and more rewarding.
Many colleges have an entire system of free resources in place to help students succeed from advisement, to counseling, to libraries and more. But sometimes there are limits to what on-campus resources can do for you. That’s why we’ve rounded up a massive list of our favorite resources to help you out. In this list you will find the best tips for navigating college applications, managing finances, finding mental health support and more — for both on-campus and online students.
Applying and Getting Accepted
One of the first steps toward getting into college starts with your application. Preparing in advance can keep you from feeling overwhelmed by the process. These resources below will help you navigate every step of the way.
College Board is an essential beginner’s resource for anyone applying to college. The “BigFuture” guide offers nuanced steps for building your college applications and narrowing down your school selection. You can also find additional help for studying for the SAT exam and learn about different majors and career options.
College Navigator is a resource offered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This tool allows you to build a personalized list of schools across the country that you are interested in and then look at a side-by-side comparison. You can narrow down your search by several criteria, including by state, degree level and type of institution.
Khan Academy’s college application checklist can help you stay organized while you are working on several different applications. The guide breaks down materials that are submitted by you, like your admissions essays, application fees and test scores, and those that are submitted by your guidance counselor and teachers, like your high school transcript and letters of recommendation.
Fiske Guide to College
For decades, the Fiske Guide to Colleges has been a leading resource for college applicants. As a guide to more than 320 four-year schools, this book gives insight that you won’t easily find in other online resources. You can also take a quiz to help you understand what you are looking for in a college.
College Reality Check
Is college really worth the cost? College Reality Check gives you unique insight into colleges across the country. You can dive into the college tours series to get a personal account of specific universities. The website also publishes student perspectives of college life, giving you a first-hand account of what it’s like to be a student at dozens of schools.
This resource offers 10 tips for completing your college applications. Stuck on your final essay or waiting to hit submit? Education Planner’s guide offers helpful reminders on what to include in your application – as well as an array of other college planning resources.
This article from Princeton Review is a helpful reminder for some things not to do while you are applying to college, as revealed by a survey of 143,000 students. Some of their top tips include doing your homework about the schools you’re applying to and why you shouldn’t overlook so-called ‘“safety” schools.
Sorting out finances can be one of the most intimidating parts of going to college. Where can you find financial aid? How do you navigate the FAFSA? These resources can help ease the burden and equip you with the information you need to make financial decisions about your education.
Financial aid is one the most common ways to bring down the sticker price of tuition. Aid options range from grants that you don’t have to pay back) to federal and private loans. This resource will help you learn about your options and find the best mix for your financial situation.
Aside from loans and grants, scholarships are one of the most common ways students can find additional funding. This guide will familiarize you with the ins and outs of scholarship applications as well as finding as many funding opportunities as possible.
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA, is the first step toward receiving financial aid. Universities will use this information to determine your eligibility for aid. You can begin the application as early as October 1 for the following year.
Fastweb is one of the largest online databases for scholarships of all sizes, with access to more than 1.5 million scholarship opportunities. Students can create a unique profile and receive personalized recommendations based on their strengths, interest, background and more.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, known as CFPB, is a government agency that helps students understand the costs of financial aid and repaying loans. The CFPB’s guide will help you better understand your financial aid offer and includes a tool that helps you plan for costs that your aid offer won’t cover.
U.S. News Scholarship Finder
The U.S. News Scholarship Finder is another search portal that you can use to discover scholarship awards. The database filters out scholarships by test scores, location, type of award and school type. It also features a checklist for each award so you can easily see the required application materials.
Net Price Calculator
The U.S. Department of Education’s Net Price Calculator can help you better estimate the cost of going to school. This resource factors in an estimated cost of attendance for the school of your choice, including tuition, room and board, books and other expenses. By comparing these fees with your estimated financial aid, you’ll be able to have a better understanding of your financial obligations.
Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority
The UHEAA publishes an annual guide on paying for college. The pamphlet goes through various ways that you can start saving for college – and how you can start sooner. You’ll also find information on finding scholarships, navigating FAFSA and other cost-saving strategies.
Getting used to college-level academic demands can be a huge adjustment for students. Whether you’re trying to navigate college majors and career options, studying for your first exam, or learning how to write a strong academic paper, these resources can help you get ahead in your studies.
Chegg offers a wide range of study resources for students. You’ll find resources for course homework, exam prep and writing support. The website also offers rentals for textbooks at a discount.
The University of North Carolina’s Learning Center
This resource from UNC offers dozens of helpful resources for students. Learn how to step up your study habits, take control of your schedule and more through the tips and tools section.
Visual learners will love GoConqr. The website offers a full suite of tools to visualize new concepts that you would like to master. You’ll find a flowchart tool that helps you to create easy-to-follow process diagrams and models and GoConqr’s online flashcard tool can help you memorize and recall important topics and facts.
Coursera is home to more than 5,000 courses and certificates for those looking to learn about a new topic or a new skill. Students can enroll directly in a course from a top university, like Stanford, or a leading company, like Google. Whether you’re looking to build skills in your current field, like business, or learn a new career path altogether, you’ll find plenty of options.
EdEx also features thousands of courses, similar to Coursera, to help students get an edge in their studies. Boot camps for things like coding, data analytics, cybersecurity and fintech give you an option to get up-to-date and hands-on experience in leading fields. EdEx also offers online options for bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
EdNavigator offers personalized support for students and families. The website will help pair you with one if its counselors, called Navigators, who can guide you through the college planning process. Some of the core areas they focus on include exploring school courses and making a successful transition to higher education.
Writing Center (Amherst College)
Amherst College’s writing center is home to several resources that can get you up to speed on college-level academic demands. You’ll find guides that will help you learn how to revise an academic essay and prepare an engaging presentation. The resource also includes several links to additional writing tips and tools.
Harvard College Resource Center
Harvard College shares a helpful online resource for any student looking to get help with any aspect of academic writing. You’ll find Harvard’s guide to using sources very useful in your college writing. You can also read through the blog to find tips and tricks from writing center tutors.
Building a social support system is crucial to your success in college. Beyond focusing on your studies, it’s helpful to get involved on campus and in your community. Intramural sports, student organizations, tour guide groups and mentorship programs are all great ways to get plugged in and meet other students with common interests. Here are some great resources for getting started:
American University’s Tool for Student Organizations
This guide from American University offers helpful tips for student club operations. You’ll find helpful documents and forms that any club leader would need to run an organization. The guide also offers club training and workshops to develop student leaders.
Boise State University’s Student Organizations Handbook
This is another helpful, practical guide for anyone looking to start and run a student organization. You can learn more about branding guidelines, fundraising, planning events, marketing your organization, student travel and more.
Boston University: Five Tips for Making Friends in College
Making new friends in college can feel intimidating. This blog post from Boston University offers five easy tips for meeting people.
Building a Support Network
Building relationships with people around you, both inside and outside of the classroom, is key to finding support. This guide from Oregon State University offers helpful tips for creating a strong network. Make it a point to introduce yourself to those around you and look for campus organizations to get involved with.
Campus Tour Guide
Every college campus has a tour guide group. It’s an essential way to show off the campus to prospective students and teach others about the school. It’s also a great way to get involved socially with other students. This resource, from Lewis and Clark, shares valuable tips for working as a guide on campus.
Eventbrite is an online catalog of events in your area, both virtually and in person. You can narrow your search down by your specific city as well as event topics, such as sports and fitness, performing arts, business groups and more. These events can be a great way to find people with common interests.
Golden Key is an honor society with collegiate chapters across the country. It’s a great way to get involved with local and international service opportunities as well as develop leadership skills. You’ll also become part of a global network of members, with access to scholarships, career advice and more.
A mentor can help guide you through the ups and downs of college life and navigate academic challenges. Mentor.org helps connect students to mentors in their local area. You can find group, one-to-one and online mentoring options. This website also offers a treasure trove of educational mentoring resources, like guides, research and training modules.
Health and Wellness
Maintaining a healthy body and mind is crucial to your health as a student. From managing the transition to a new living environment to the stress of demanding college courses, students should seek out support and resources that can help them cope in a healthy way. The local and national resources below are helping students thrive.
American College Health Association
The American College Health Association (ACHA) provides a thorough directory of resources available to college students. You can find assistance for a range of health topics, including chronic illness, campus violence, health insurance, mental health and nutrition.
Association of Psychology Training Clinics
A great way to find affordable mental health services in your area is through the Association of Psychology Training Clinics (APTC). The website features a master database of university mental health clinics along with contact information.
Check out your local YMCA chapter to find mental health and counseling services. Their dedicated teams can help you process the stress and mental challenge you may face as a student. They offer services for individuals, families and couples, and they also offer teletherapy as well.
Purdue University’s Health and Wellness Guide
Strong health and wellness discipline helps you deal with all of the demands, stress and obligations you may be facing. This guide from Purdue University gives you accessible, helpful tips for staying mentally and physically strong.
TimelyMD offers virtual medical care for college students. This resource focuses on “whole student health,” including mental and emotional support and is focused on bringing students equitable care. TimelyMD will connect you to a diverse set of qualified providers that can help you find the right care that you need.
United Healthcare Student Resources
United Healthcare, an insurance company, offers a guide to those trying to navigate student health insurance. The student help center can help you locate a health care provider in your area. The portal also helps you search through health insurance options through your school.
University of North Texas Student Health and Wellness Center
The University of North Texas has gathered a list of resources for students’ health and well-being. You’ll find dozens of links to various educational websites that cover sexual assault, mental health, eating disorders and more.
The Jed Foundation
The Jed Foundation is focused on raising awareness about the mental health of teens and young adults. The nonprofit works to support students’ mental health and aims to prevent substance misuse, self-harm and suicide. Their website can connect you to a range of valuable mental health resources.
Online School-Specific Resources
The number of online and flexible learning opportunities for students continues to grow. According to the NCES, as of 2020, 44% of all undergraduate students were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses. This growing educational field is bringing new opportunities to students of all backgrounds and geographic locations and is opening the door for those with a family or a full-time job to earn a degree.
The resources below can help you succeed in your coursework and find community in your virtual classroom.
Kansas State University Online
Wondering what to expect during your online learning experience? This guide features tips from Kansas State University advisors on how best to adapt and succeed in a virtual classroom. You’ll find helpful advice on how to organize your studies better, create a routine, participate in discussion forums and strengthen your communication skills.
Stanford’s Center for Professional Development
Many strategies that help with face-to-face learning can help you succeed in an online environment – like time management and problem-solving. This resource from Stanford, however, breaks out other strategies that you can add to your toolbox as an online student.
10 Tips for Online Classes, University of South Florida
This guide from USF offers valuable tips and strategies for students that want to improve their online learning experience. One helpful step is getting organized and setting a schedule for completing and reviewing assignments. Another important tip is finding ways to build virtual interactions with your peers to create community in the online setting.
8 Tips for Choosing an Online University
The University of Southern Mississippi’s guide for choosing an online university is helpful for students who may not know where to start. You can begin by looking through accredited schools with the U.S. Department of Education. It’s also helpful to inquire about the faculty credentials.
The University of Reddit is a great resource for online students to find information and community with peers. You can browse through dozens of subreddits on educational topics, from academic psychology to real estate investing. Reddit is a great way to crowdsource information and learn topics that you might not find in a traditional resource.
This guide from Campus Groups rounds up 20 virtual event and activity guides for online and off-campus engagement. These suggestions are a great way to build community with your fellow online classmates. Some ideas include live streaming a virtual speaker event and organizing a virtual field trip based on your group’s interest.
Quizlet is another study tool for online students. The website features digital flashcards and practice tests that students can use to learn new topics. Quizlet’s testing feature is interactive and provides feedback in real-time as you work through an exam.
Alta is a technology solution for online students that aims to improve learning through test-based and video instruction and interactive learning content. When you complete assignments on the platform, the technology is able to identify your knowledge gaps so that you can better know and strengthen those areas.
Schooltraq, an online academic planner, is a great resource to help you track your homework and assignments in an efficient way. The online digital dashboard lets you see all of your upcoming assignments while you’re on the go.
Evernote is a popular note-taking platform. It’s an excellent resource for online students who need a centralized place for notes, tasks and schedules in one place. You’ll find features that can help you keep track of every deadline and due date as well as a place to keep course notes.