Geek squad

Tech tips to help you save time and money

by Ashley Hennefer

by Ashley Hennefer

Technology just keeps getting better and better for college students. If you plan smart and take advantage of cheap and free resources, you can prevent racking up those cringe-worthy bills for school supplies.

Get an e-reader

If you don’t already have an e-reader, the devices are not as pricey as they used to be and can save you some serious cash in the long run. A hundred bucks will get you a Kindle or a basic tablet, which, compared to a stack of textbooks, is pretty inexpensive. Depending on your major, you may be able to get many of your required readings in e-book form. In any case, many classic novels—required for classes like Core Humanities—are in public domain, which means they are often free to download or available to check out through the local UNR and public libraries. You can also lend books to friends or peers, and take notes on texts without damaging a book’s pages.

Use open source software

There is no point shelling out hundreds of dollars for programs that have open source equivalents. Free programs like OpenOffice or LibreOffice have an entire suite that match Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. GIMP is a decent option for photo editing. ReplicatorG is a popular open source modeling program.

Use the school’s programs

If you have to use a specific program like Adobe Photoshop or Solid Works, the university has all the programs students need to use for class. The ECC lounge, located on the second floor of Scrugham Engineering and Mines, offers AutoCAD, ChemCAD, Matlab, Solid Works and dozens more. The @One in the Knowledge Center has computer labs with the latest photo, design and video editing software.

Work on team projects online

Let’s face it—team projects are a drag, even if a professor means well. They require students with completely different schedules to find time outside of class to meet and work on an assignment, and ultimately a few people end up doing most of the work. But it’s possible to get most of the work done online without having to meet in the dead of night or the crack of dawn. Google, especially, has a variety of free tools. Use Google Chat to talk as a group. Google Documents allows multiple people to work on a paper at the same time, and it also has a chat bar if you need to instant message while you’re working. And, by using web tools, it’s easier to keep a paper trail of who has done what to hold teammates accountable.

Download the UNR Library app

If you use the resources provided at the Knowledge Center, it’s worth downloading the UNR Library app. The app provides information on library hours, and you can also check your account and renew books, reserve rooms, scan a book to see if it is in the UNR Libraries database, call campus escort, and find an open computer in the library. It also has a resource guide available for different majors. Visit the app store for Apple or Android and search for “UNR Library.”