Originally appeared as part of Getting the Max out from Education on treetide.com.
As Paul Graham puts it in his excellent high-school graduation speech, even college textbooks are bad.
When you get to college, you'll find that (with a few stellar exceptions) the textbooks are not written by the leading scholars in the field they describe. Writing college textbooks is unpleasant work, done mostly by people who need the money.
Here's my take on how to get the most out of your education by finding the best material. We'll take the Operating Systems class as our scapegoat:
What textbooks do people advise on forums? A search on reddit can be insightful. Ask around in your private student group as well!
What do other institutions teach? Google "operating systems cs inurl:edu$".
Books take effort to write, and are hard to update. These makes it likely that the content went through proper editing and lays out time-tested foundations. Amazon seems to have a nice selection here.
Once you have the book, don't hold back. Pop it open at interesting chapters, use the highlighter, scribble your questions and ideas all over the margins!
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For the Operating Systems class I would search for "Operating Systems Survey". Even a peek at the results indicates an emerging trend of embedded/IoT OS research, which might be useful insight. It's ok if you don't understand most of a paper, but you will draw inspiration and see contemporary problems.
(Image credits: Tom Murphy VII / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)