Resources for Students

Here I will list some resources that have come in handy over my studying years. These range from books on studying, self-growth, and more, to writing equipment to software and services. If you have suggestions or questions, feel free to email huan at huanmnguyen dot com or leave a comment on the blog. (Note that any links are NON-affiliate links; no extra cost to you, just useful recommendations for you.)

Tools

  • Kuru Toga pencils – Pencils that rotate the lead as you write, keeping sharper and smoother lead lines. I prefer the pipe slide model. Very interesting and fun to write with, and come in lots of styles, some comfortable, others stylish.
  • Uni-ball E-Knock Eraser – Advancing eraser. I like their clean aesthetic, and the erasing job is very good. Comes with three refills, though I used the original eraser for well over a year before I had to put the first refill in.
  • TI–36X Pro calculator – Not as powerful as the TI–8X graphing calculator line, but it is allowed on the FE and PE exams, and has a nice interface with fraction capability. Neat little calculator that’s very powerful for very cheap.
  • Notebinder – I really enjoy the flexibility that a notebinder gives. I prefer the sturdiness of actual binders, but you can’t flip those 180 degrees and write on one side like you can notebooks, and you can’t add paper/divides to notebooks like you can binders. Best of both worlds.
  • Engineering paper – I only buy the Roaring Spring kind, and I’ve gone through hundreds of sheets with great results.

Software

  • Evernote – I use it to commonplace, hold writing ideas, jot down ideas/commitments/notes/observations throughout the day, plan events/trips, and so much more. It’s amazing, and the free version is more than enough for my needs. Very functional, extremely useful. Check out these posts by Tiago Forte on effectively using Evernote.
  • Overleaf – A web service to write pretty LaTeX papers in. Great for making professional-grade papers in technical fields. If you’re beginning your physics/engineering/math/etc degree, learn the basics (Overleaf has templates you can use, making it even easier) and watch as the bonus points roll in on your lab reports and whatever else.
  • Todoist – Cross-platform todo app. I used this for months and months, always coming back to it after trying out various alternatives from Remember the Milk to Trello and more. It’s brilliant, with recurring tasks, prioritization, labels, and filters. Really cool.
  • MyLifeOrganized – My latest todo manager; it’s much more complex than Todoist, but great for people who 1) have a little money to spare, and 2) need some powerful features like in-depth prioritization, start and due dates, and much more.

Websites

  • Study Hacks – One of the more famous blogs on the topic nowadays; it’s written by Cal Newport, who is most recently known for writing a bunch of books about increasing your performance as a knowledge worker (see: So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and Deep Work). However, he got his writing start with books, based on interviews with incredibly high performing yet happy students, about how to do well in high school and college. The archive is chock-full of very, very, very useful info. You will save dozens of hours applying these techniques. No such thing as a silver bullet, but there are legal performance enhancers and these just happen to be the academic kind.
  • College Info Geek – Another blog on doing well in college. More holistic and pop-cultured than Study Hacks, CIG is a great site for students looking for advice on a wide range of topics: from inexpensive yet high-quality earbuds/headphones, to study techniques, to questions and podcasts about learning, psychology, internships, med school, to general college tips – you name it, CIG probably has an article about it or has mentioned it. Great stuff.
  • WTFprofessor – A site aimed specifically at STEM majors; his study techniques are geared towards making the most of the example problems you’re given or worked over in class, and learning how to make technical subjects more intuitive. If you’re in engineering, math, physics, or the like, do not miss out on this website. I highly, highly recommend it; you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble and time.

Books

  • How to be a Straight-A Student by Cal Newport – Written by the man behind Study Hacks, this book is a bible for study techniques; he interviewed some of the highest-performing students in the country that still had a life outside of school, and distilled their best practices into one book. If you prefer Lifehacker-esque lists of tips, check out How to Win at College by him; it’s a short book packed with tips that are incredibly useful, and the book itself serves as a way to dip your toes into his writing.
  • Ikigai by Sebastian Marshall – Not so much a book about studying as a book about living an effective, principled, and high-achieving life. Rather strong in tone, but if you’re the kind of person that is always striving to be more and do more, all I can say is that this book showed me what more is out there.
  • Ten Steps to Earning Awesome Grades While Studying Less – Thomas Frank, the man behind College Info Geek, wrote this short guide jam-packed with great stuff. It’s light, it’s funny, and it’s so very useful. It’s also free with an email address, and every email he sends contains something useful; recommended.