As millions of college students prepare to head back to school, parents are arming their co-eds with the supplies they need to start the year off on the right foot. In addition to textbooks and an extensive supply of Ramen noodles, this year parents will want to add some new supplies to the list that they won't find at the store. "Getting ready for college used to mean signing up for a calling card, stocking up on dorm room necessities and buying the required books at the campus book store," said James Coch, new business development marketing manager for MWV, the leading manufacturer of school supplies such as Mead and Five Star. "Today's reliance on all things tech means more and more Internet services are available to help with the transition to college." There are dozens of inexpensive and easy-to-use Internet services that will help students with everything from homework and scholarships to communication and entertainment. Among some of the most popular must-haves for the coming school year:
- Skype: Now they'll have no excuse not to call home no matter where they go to school. Skype (www.skype.com) is an online application that allows subscribers to use the computer to make free phone calls to other Skype accounts around the globe or to make inexpensive calls to cell phones or landlines. Monthly subscriptions or pre-paid credits are available.
- Mead Map: One of the most important transitions from high school to college is managing the demands of coursework and figuring out the best note taking and studying systems. Mead Map (www.meadmap.com) helps smooth that transition through an innovative, easy-to-use platform that is redefining the way students take notes and manage group projects. Mead Map allows users to instantly access their notes, research and group projects from any computer with an Internet connection — no downloads required. Plus, it allows for real-time updates and collaborations, perfect for group projects. Mead Map subscriptions are $15 for six months or $25 for a year. It comes with a free 30-day trial.
- Snapfish or Webshots: These photo sharing services are a way for college students to keep in touch with family and friends. With Snapfish (www.snapfish.com), users can share and store their photos for free and create prints and personalized photo gifts online. Webshots (www.webshots.com) helps students share photos, videos and slideshows. Both services allow friends and family members to order prints.
- CollegeNET: Current or future college students can win scholarships just for voicing their opinions on this free Web forum (www.collegenet.com). Just create a profile, pick a topic and voice your opinion. If you earn the most voting points you can win one of several monthly scholarships.
- Netflix and GameFly: All work and no play makes for a very boring dorm room experience. With Netflix (www.netflix.com) users can rent as many DVDs as they want and watch movies instantly on their computers.
In addition to these resources, countless other helpful services are available to college students online. Do some advance preparation via the World Wide Web this year. Just be sure you send students off to school with a list of user names and passwords. - Statepoint
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