As any student will tell you, money is tight when you’re at college! So what’s a conscientious student to do when it comes to the tools of the trade? Are cash-strapped students expected to produce first class work on proprietary software at the expense of their already strained budget, or choose from a free, often open source, alternative? I know for sure what option I would take if I was back at college with hardly enough money to cover the bare essentials, never mind the tools of the trade!

If you’re a student seeking software tools that are every bit as good as their paid alternatives, and in many cases superior, then check out these programs. They’re all free to download and install right now!

1. AVG

AVG provides free basic software, which protects computers from spyware and viruses. Whether checking emails, surfing the internet, or maintaining contact with friends and family through social networking sites, ensure the computer has protection. Smart scanning monitors links in real time before users mistakenly enter a danger zone. The software also provides immediate safety ratings for sites.

2. Blender

A necessary tool for the graphic design student includes this free program used to create computer-generated images. Users can design animations, images, movies and videos with this all-inclusive program. Comparable professional programs cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Their website also includes numerous free tutorials covering a wide range of topics.

3. Drupal

Even the most inexperienced individuals quickly build websites using this open source software. Knowledge of HTML and other formatting languages is not required. Create everything from personal blogs to business applications. Thousands of add-on modules provide flexibility and power. Design sites with menus, podcasts, polls, texts and videos and have complete revision ability. Manage, organize and publish all content easily. The program also allows users the ability to link with other websites, including social networking.

4. End Note

This free trial software saves hours of typing when attempting to format accurate bibliographies. The program automatically cites and enters pertinent references while users compose a text. Compile bibliographies, databases, images, PDFs, and references in any language. The integrated Web of Knowledge online database enables research for information relating to the humanities, sciences and social sciences. The software license allows users to install the program on up to three different computers.

5. GIMP

Graphic design students and photography enthusiasts save hundreds of dollars on complicated software by using this free GNU Image Manipulator Program. Similar to Photoshop, the program contain a complete paint suite with editing and gradient tools. The software accepts a wide variety of file formats for image authoring, image composition and photo retouching. Enhance the program’s functionality with over 100 plug-ins.

6. HTML-kit

The HTML kit is a fully equipped editing tool for creating CSS, JavaScript, PHP, HTML, XHTML, XML and other texts files. Create shortcuts for more regularly used codes, making them available through the click of the mouse. Along with this freeware program, download the plugins generator, which increases functionality by allowing users to drag and drop newly designed features.

7. Open Office

OpenOffice, regarded as the alternative to Microsoft Office, is an all-inclusive productivity suite comprised of tools to create and edit graphics, databases, presentations, spreadsheets and a text. The software will be familiar to anyone who has used an Microsoft Office before and installs on any number of computers a user chooses, allowing unlimited copying and sharing. Features include problem reporting and enhancement requests. The download is totally free of charge. Extend the functionality of the software with clipart, software and templates available through the same website.

8. PDFsam

Whether writing a research paper or authoring a book, PDFsam is a graphic user interface program that allows users to split documents into pages, chapters, etc., in addition to merging, mixing or reordering written works. The open source project is free to use and optional donations provide enhanced functionality, including the ability to enter metadata information and encrypt files.

9. TurboCASH

Similar to QuickBooks, TurboCash is an open source entry level accounting program that includes a calendar, point-of-sale and to-do list. Through batch, processing individuals have a complete history log of hundreds of thousands of transactions. Use it to monitor a monthly budget, a hobby, or a small business with ease.

10. X Mind

This specially designed free tool is perfect for brainstorming projects or task management. In addition to customizable themes, X Mind allows users to enter markers, inline notes and hyperlinks to maps. Choose whether the project is viewable by all, exclusive to a few or maintained for private use only. X Mind also contains a spell check function.

This post was contributed by Tom Becker who covers the latest savings accounts for students at one of Australia’s leading independent review websites, MoneyChoices.com.au.

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