For students who study online, having a good network of professionals and other students in your chosen field is a great way to exchange ideas, understand concepts, or just vent some steam.
These active online forums are run by professionals and students in health care, business, technology, law, criminal justice, and other academic fields (click a topic to jump to that section). Need help with homework? Have a question and no one’s around to answer it? Join up and post away.
(P.S.: If you know of any good student-savvy forums that should be on this list, feel free to suggest one in the comments below.)
Health care forums (top)
MedicalAssistant.net – There are a lot of medical assisting forums out there (they’re a chatty bunch), but this one is the target of frequent questions regarding certification, school and job hunting, and it’s run by a real online health care educator.
AllNurses.com – Administrated by a staff of RNs and other medical personnel, this nursing forum has categories for students and working nurses of all levels, and even includes an NCLEX forum to guide you through that test anxiety.
StudentDoctor.net – A large and varied community of doctors, student doctors and professionals in many areas of health care interact within the pages of this site, where you’ll almost certainly find something on the specialty you’re studying.
RadiologyForums.com – An x-ray specific community that discusses patients, positioning, continuing education and job seeking.
Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography – the SDMS hosts a collection of ultrasound forums based on the different areas of sonography, but SDMS membership is required for entry. The author not being a registered sonographer, this link is mostly FYI.
Business forums (top)
Find-MBA.com – Despite being hosted by a business, this forum gathers traffic from MBA seekers and MBA holders worldwide, with active discussions in the US, the UK, Europe, Australia, Africa and other countries.
BusinessWeek – The name power alone gives this one credibility, and it’s rife with b-school, MBA and GMAT questions of all kinds from students like yourself.
Vault.com – This career and education info site’s MBA forum is a little awkward, with no real organization among the 522 topics lining the left-hand side. But discussions surrounding school admissions, cheating, career changes and other common topics may answer some of your questions, and it’s hosted by the same guy who fields questions in the forum above.
Technology forums (top)
PlanetAMD64 – Hardware buffs are drawn to this discussion board, which also attracts software buffs, system buffs and other reams of the technologically curious. Though a student element is not immediately apparent, it makes for a solid board of experts – including, undoubtedly, its fair share of “Trek-sperts.”
DaniWeb – This community of over 400,000 IT enthusiasts is open to students in software and Web development, and covers many topics within and without, as long as you’re not looking for fast answers for your homework. It seems like a geek-chic kind of place.
Ubuntu Forums – The Community Café is renamed to match certain strange holidays (National Talk Like a Pirate Day: “the Poop Deck”), and there is a hefty number of categories to choose from, including one for … Mac users…. Again, no special place set aside for students (sorry – those seem to be sparse in IT), but students are welcome to run amok in the general threads.
Law forums (top)
LawSchoolDiscussion.org – It seems like no one is quite as verbose as a law student, so be prepared for anything you post to be mercilessly ridiculed, or at least answered with a fair amount of asinine wisdom. This means you should probably do the same with your posts, if you don’t already. That being said, this forum has a board for pre-law, as well as law and grad students.
All4JDs.com – This lively group posts threads with titles like “Is McCain Palin’s Bitch?” and “Why the hell do we want to be attorneys?” Nonetheless, they are all law students with test anxiety like yourself, and they will doubtless welcome you among them after a gritting initiation rite.
Top-Law-Schools.com – The site’s hyphenated URL and lead-generation flavoring may raise eyebrows, but the forum is real, active, and for once it almost seems serious. Separate categories for admissions, LSAT prep and minority law students, among others, promise the help you need, with an off-topic lounge where things degenerate quickly (“How can I make working udders?”)
Criminal justice forums (top)
Criminal Justice Online – With a highly organized board grouped into topics like leadership, technology and education, your questions will fit in somewhere. Participation comes from experienced officers and students alike.
RealPolice.net – Students and cadets can go to veterans for advice in the Rookie’s Resource area, and the general public can use the Ask-A-Cop section to get advice from real officers. A pretty large number of categories and more than 37,000 members keeps this one pretty active.
Academics (general ed forums) (top)
College Confidential – This general college discussion board includes topics filed under pre-college, admissions and grad school, as well as a café for irrelevant college life discussions. There’s even an online degree section, if that’s your bag.
Physics Forums – As the name suggests, this board contains forums in physics, as well as in astronomy, math, engineering and other sciences, frequented by over 113,000 members. Not too shabby.
Math Help Forum – Like the physics forum above, this one is straightforward, with no-nonsense forums on college-level algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics and business math. I don’t understand any of it, but f(x) = 2 x(2) + x(3) log x = you getting the help you seek.
The Literature Network – Poetry, philosophy and religion: everything you need to get into a lengthy, scholarly debate with a drunken college guy in Idaho at 2 am. An author’s quote board will even give you some academic ammunition.
The Writers’ Beat – Post your work for feedback, or get advice on writing quandaries such as killing characters, or not killing your readership. It also makes for some good reading.