Preparing for College

"Hack" Your Summer!

We're having a hack attack! I spend a lot of time on the Web, and it seems as though just about every day -- sometimes more than once a day -- I encounter an article that excitedly proclaims a method to "hack" something. For the uninitiated, what exactly does "hack" mean in that context?

I looked a number of places to define "hack" and the best explanation I found comes from Daniel Miller:

The word came out of MIT and the hacker culture there, so the best pseudo-primary source would be the Jargon File. Here are some references, distilled to the relevant points:

  • hack - Originally, a quick job that produces what is needed, but not well.
  • The Meaning of 'Hack' - 'an appropriate application of ingenuity'.
  • neat hack - A clever technique

So, in my post's title here, "Hack" Your Summer!, one could infer, "Here are some clever techniques that will give you a leg up on what is needed as you anticipate your first (or another) year of college."

What inspired me to write about this today is a story idea entitled Summer Hacks: 5 Things You Need To Download & Learn Before Fall. As it explains ...

For students, summers often mean sitting by a pool and enjoying the sun.

But what most don't realize is that summer's the perfect time to hack the fall semester - by learning how to code in one month, reading your course books way ahead of time, or memorizing your school map.

What are 5 tools that students can use while still on vacation that will help them turbo-charge the upcoming school year?

Well, most of the students I know and work with hardly spend their summers "sitting by a pool and enjoying the sun" unless they're a lifeguard. My college summers consisted of odd, sometimes demeaning, jobs where I worked for gas and dating money. The only "pool" I was near was the labor pool at Manpower, Inc. (maybe they're called "PersonPower" these days) who sent me on an array of often weird and even distasteful job assignments. But I digress.

However, I am in favor of using summer vacation to be productive and proactive when it comes to matters of college. So, I was interested to review these five "hacks" and decided to share them with you. Here they are:

- Memorize Your New Campus:

Quad2Quad acts like a virtual travel assistant, helping students find their dorm room and memorize the cafeteria. From their site:

... The Connected College Visit feature is offered thanks to a partnership with the award winning, privacy-first, social discovery app SameGrain. Voted the " Best Start-Up Idea" by the Washington Post and selected as one of three Maryland “start-ups to watch" in 2014 , Same Grain's social discovery capabilities are a natural enhancement to Quad2Quad. You'll get a wow reaction when you see it, like Angelica did. Meaning something like those free wow videos. You can watch more than 18 videos to be sure of its quality. Super hot content can be also found at puremature. These resources will make each Connected College Visit a socially rewarding, interactive, personalized experience for today's digitally connected students and their families ...

- Learn Spanish Verbs By The Pool

Why not use the summer to learn a new language on your phone? On Duolingo you can learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and English for free. Get light years ahead of your Spanish 201 classmates. From a review:

... The free language learning app Duolingo offers 11 completed language courses for English speakers, 2 beta languages, and 8 languages still “hatching" in their incubator form. For example, as an English speaker, you can learn Spanish, with over 40 million other learners, Italian, with 10 million learners, or even Irish, with just over 1 million learners.

Duolingo also includes language courses for speakers of languages other than English. These include French for Portuguese speakers, English for Czech speakers, and so on.

I've used Duolingo to learn Spanish, German and Swedish. Let's take a look at how this cool little app works and how it can support you in your language learning adventure! ...

- Get Insider Info:

Should you only sign up for morning classes? What professors are awesome? College Confidential lets you interact with other students to find out what's REALLY going on in campus. From CC's home page:

Welcome to the leading college-bound community on the Web!

Here you'll find hundreds of pages of articles about choosing a college, getting into the college you want, how to pay for it, and much more. You'll also find the Web's busiest discussion community related to college admissions, and our CampusVibe section!

- Learn to Code:

Bored with Netflix marathons? Why not learn to code on Udemy? Udemy offers online classes and boot camps where you can learn to build websites or mobile apps from the comfort of your hot couch. From the course explanation:

... Web Design is one of the fastest growing, and best paid fields in the world today!

In this highly informative web design course, veteran web designer and developer Steven Taylor takes you through the entire process of building a complete website from scratch.

Starting with nothing but a blank page on Note Pad, Steve shows you step-by-step how to build a beautiful, fully functional website, while teaching you everything you need to know about HTML and CSS, the basic building blocks of the web ...

- Get Ahead:

Course Hero is an online learning platform that empowers millions of students and educators to succeed. Course Hero offers the biggest and best library of study documents, expert tutors, customizable flashcards, and advice. So even before picking your classes, download the app and check out past student's suggestions on courses, flashcards needed for the course, and test prep materials. From the home page:

Master Your Classes ™

Browse millions of learning resources and find what you need

Ask tutors for help: we have subject-matter experts available 24/7

Share your own resources and build a better learning community

Join our community of more than 10 million students and educators!

So, boys and girls, get off that lounge chair, unplug those earbuds, put down your phone, and hack your summer! There's nothing like getting a good start on fall semester. Hack away ... now!


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles at College Confidential.