This is the second installment of the 5 Part Going Back to College Series. A new site will be reviewed daily. For the complete series, check out the Back to College Series post. Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments below.
There will always be those moments when you realize something and can’t help but think “I wish I knew that years ago”. For me HackCollege.com is the perfect example. On this website you’ll learn tricks and shortcuts for making everything about college life easier. There is no topic overlooked and nothing is off limits.
Topics range from help planning and executing the perfect party to how to construct a loft bed to maximize space. Content is presented in traditional blog form (i.e. the written word) as well as through entertaining videos.
The site layout is very basic with content on the left and the navigation in the right sidebar. Nothing more is really necessary for the site to get its information across so the contributors wisely keep things simple. Because of this, it’s rather easy to find your way through all the archived content allowing the reader to read more and search less.
HackCollege.com was founded in 2006 by Loyola Marymount University student Kelly Sutton. The about page describes his reason for doing so as an “unprecedented curmudgeonliness” (It’s OK, I had to look it up, too.)
Gradually, over the last few years, HackCollege has grown by adding new contributors and content. Most recently, the addition of HackCollege.co.uk has brought helpful college tips across the pond to our friends in England. Plenty of the content on both sites is useful interchangeably, so really the .uk version is just some more bonus HackCollege goodies.
What I Liked
The thing I like the most about HackCollege.com is the content never really extends into the “need to know” phase of college life. In fact, you’ll get along just fine if you never read a single thing the site puts out there. It didn’t quite exist when I was in school, so I’m the perfect example. I made it through OK. However, the great part is the things you’ll learn on the site just makes college better.
For instance, it’s not essential that you know how to build the perfect $100 bar, but man, life is so much better when you do. It’s the simple things in life that matter.
Another part of what they’re doing over at HackCollege that I really enjoy is providing a little variety while still sticking closely to their niche. An example is a recent post about how to handle a ticket. Now that information can pretty much apply to anyone, but when they put the old college spin on it, it suddenly applies to their blog and others find it useful as well.
I think the most important thing about HackCollege, that really helps with their success is the likeability of their contributors. Through the ‘About’ page you can find information and links to social networking profiles for each of them. After some quick browsing there and the reading through the blog, I’ve really come to appreciate their style and outlook. They’re serious (about their business) without taking themselves too seriously (they goof off quite a bit).
I don’t know about you, but I like learning through entertainment. If I can be entertained, and still be smarter when it’s over, then I’m happy. The guys and gals over at HackCollege have that formula perfected.
What I Didn’t Like
I’m being picky here, because in my opinion there really isn’t much wrong with this site. There are a couple of things I’d do to improve it, though. For starters, from a design standpoint, I’d like to see some sort of color contrast or another form of separation between the content and the sidebar. It’s not mandatory, but I think it would make things look a little cleaner.
Also, with site navigation in mind, I would prefer to have easier access to the different HackCollege pages. They are currently listed about halfway down the sidebar. There’s a lot of good stuff on them and I think they’d get more attention if they were available in the header or higher up the sidebar. Again, not really the worst thing in the world, but I needed to pick something, that’s what I’d change.
The Final Word
It’s not often when a website is so good at being entertaining and useful. I try it here, and realize it’s not always easy. The crew at HackCollege is very, very good at it. Every college student should have its resources as part of their college survival arsenal. I wish I did.