The enormous popularity of online social networking forums, such as facebook and MySpace has prompted a new trend of academically inspired Web sites aimed at helping college students.

Web sites such as Gradefix.com, ichapters.com, and Notecentric.com provide everything from planning and organizing schedules to purchasing textbooks and exchanging notes.

Gradefix.com, which has been operating for less than a year, is a homework management system designed to stop the art of procrastination. It breaks down homework assignments (including reading and studying time) and creates a detailed schedule.

“We were surprised by how popular the site became. We already have students from over 30 countries and 600 schools,” said Gradefix.com co-owner Mac Newbold.

Gradefix.com was created by University of Utah graduate student Mark Polson, who realized that he devoted as many as 29 hours to schoolwork some weeks and as few as seven hours other weeks. Polson designed the program to avoid overwhelming and unnecessary stress.

After logging all homework assignements, the amount of time they will require, and their due date (either all at once at the beginning of the semester, or as they’re assigned), Gradefix.com evenly disburses the workload and designates specific amounts of time to designate to each assignment on a given day.

“Studies show cramming doesn’t work,” Newbold said. “You have better retention when you study the week leading up to a test. We break tasks up over a series of days instead of cramming.”

Ichapters.com is a Web site that allows students to search for discounted textbooks, but is unique from Web sites like screwthebookstore.com because it also sells individual chapters and electronic versions of the text.

Ebooks, as they are called, are not as readily available as the traditional textbooks on the site, but are desired since you can purchase the text in full or in individual chapters that range from 99 cents to $8.

“Instead of buying a book and only using a quarter of it, I can pick and choose the chapters I buy and save a ton of money,” architectural engineering senior Lindsay Patch said.

Notecentric.com is an up-and-coming online note-taking service, similar to mynoteit.com and lifehacker.com, that allows university students to share, exchange and compare class notes.

University of New Mexico student Hung Truong developed the Web site in August 2006 as a way to share notes with classmates as well as to have a primary and easily accessible place to store his notes.

The site is now available to students from universities from around the nation, but is admittedly still trying to catch a following.”There’s actually more universities than there are people,” Truong said.

All the mentioned Web sites are free of charge except Gadefix.com, which charges $5 a month if you choose to log more than 10 tasks.

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