A Crash Course in School Hacks

Ever been in a class and you already know the material? Why waste time in class reviewing material when you could be learning more on your own terms. This past weekend I connected with various idea starters and books that helped bring light to not only scholarships but time savers and education hacks.

Testing Out

  • CLEP Exam – This exam is reminiscent of the high school AP Test however it covers a variety of subjects – most universities have them in their testing centers and you pay $68-$75 per exam (for now!) instead of paying for that English class you took before, test out of it and save money for more important classes.
  • DANTE Exam – International Universities accept this as a form of testing out. DANTE basically tests individuals on information and knowledge accrued from experience.


  • Freedom – Used to block the internet. Block the internet you say? How could you do such a thing?! We are bombarded with information every day. Disconnecting from the internet and new information helps you focus on the task at hand and Freedom does just what it sounds like, it frees you from being “busy.”
  • Stickies – Small reminders, important links, and to-do lists are stacked upon the desktop which is used for almost all educational endeavors nowadays. This comes with Mac and Windows
  • Time Out – For those of you gasping at the thought of no internet at all above, there’s Time Out which will have you rest for a minute or an hour depending what you set it on. It also has a more Zen vibe, do some stretches and don’t let the information overload you.

Study/Work Abroad

  • Backdoor Jobs – This is the go-to resource for experiential learners and study abroad/volunteer enthusiasts. You can find a plethora of opportunities that may otherwise be much more expensive if organized through a University.
  • Couchsurfing – Want to travel abroad but cannot look at those hotel prices without cringing? What if you want the real-life look of a local? Couchsurfing is a wonderful free resource to connect with people from all around the world and share in intercultural real-life dialogue – not just a typical touristy view.
  • FundMyTravel – Your parents want to see you succeed, so do your friends, and teachers. This new website, a sort of spin-off from indiegogo, works with students to create campaigns to make travel happen – for education, volunteer work, and to expand the vision of students from local to global.

Independent Study

  • Create Your Own Major – Blake Boles, author of Better than College, and creator of Zero Tuition College, was lucky enough to create his own major which led to some independent study opportunities. You can check out his resources on his website and hear his story in The BellaVie Project Documentary.
  • OpenCourseWare – Learn through the various free courses that are online today – from Stanford to MIT – universities are realizing that the education atmosphere is changing. The Edupunk’s Guide is a wonderful tool on how you can get a degree using free courses online.
  • Accountability Buddies – Make sure that you have someone to keep you accountable. Just because there isn’t a teacher there to assign homework does not mean that you will be able to learn on your own terms without distraction. Practicing accountability with close friends or even a traditional independent study with a teacher.


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