College students have it tough. Lectures to attend, deadlines to meet, exams to take – and for many of you, it’s your first time living away from home. So there’s cooking, budgeting, and washing to do, too (assuming you’re not taking it home on weekends). Not to mention the partying! It’s a wonder you get any studying done.
Luckily, there are lots of smartphone apps that help take the pain out of student life. Some make learning easier, while others focus on the practical side of living on your own. To make the most of your university experience, you’ll probably need a little help. So, we’ve put together our five favorite apps for college students – all of which will give you a head start and make for a hassle-free graduation.
So read on, download, and enjoy… and good luck with your studies.
(PS – they’re all free.)
5 must-have (free) apps for college students
1. Evernote Basic and Microsoft OneNote
Okay, the first app on this list is actually two. I spent an hour or so comparing them to find out which was best, but while they’re both great, there are a couple of huge differences. Having both means you get the best of both worlds.
First, let’s look at the similarities. Both Evernote and OneNote let you collect web pages, audio, images, videos, hand-drawn notes, and lots more, and organize them into easily accessible digital notebooks. Gone are the days of thick folders full of post-its, handouts, and hastily-scrawled notes. And with synchronization across all of your devices, you can go from laptop to tablet to smartphone without losing your ideas – perfect for class, home, or on-the-go studying.
Now the differences. While Evernote is widely considered the king of note-taking apps, especially in terms of its gorgeous user interface and web-clipping features, its free version, Evernote Basic, limits uploads to 60MB. That’s pretty small. You’re restricted to synchronization across two devices, too.
OneNote, on the other hand, being part of Microsoft’s Office suite, gives you 5GB OneDrive storage. You share this among the other Office apps, but even if you set a limit of 1GB for OneNote, you’re still miles ahead of Evernote’s paltry 60MB. You also get offline access, which Evernote doesn’t offer with its Basic version.
Sadly, OneNote’s web-clipping isn’t as good as Evernote’s – it saves your collected webpages as images, meaning embedded links don’t work. So as both apps are free, download the pair and exploit the advantages of each.
Unless you’re one of the lucky ones, the Bank of Mom and Dad (BOMD, for short) won’t last forever. Chances are, going to college means financial as well as social independence. And even if you get a little help, you’ll need a tried-and-tested method of making your money last.
Wally is a free budgeting app that lets you control your finances. You can enter your income and expenditures using its clear, user-friendly interface, with expenses split into helpful categories like home and entertainment (you can even create your own). You can also add notes and pictures of receipts for each item, leaving a digital paper trail of your spending habits.
It supports all currencies, so if you’re studying overseas it won’t be a problem. With geo-tracking enabled, you can even save the location of where you spent that exorbitant sum on a caramel macchiato.
Wally also lets you set financial goals. So if you have a budget of $800 (or want to save $200, for example), Wally will track your income and expenditure and show your progress on the home screen.
For a free app, Wally is incredibly useful and very easy to use. Once you get in the habit of using it, you’ll be making better financial decisions in no time – making it easier to concentrate on your studies without worrying about where the next meal (or night out) is coming from.
During your time at college, your professors will encourage you to stay on top of industry news. Academic journals, textbooks, and papers are one thing, but with our world changing so quickly, you need to keep abreast of what’s new in your field. That’s where Feedly comes in.
At its core, Feedly is a news aggregator. It pulls together all the internet’s news into one place – your smartphone – so you can read it at your leisure. Just add the sites you want to follow, and Feedly will bring them together for you. You’re not limited to news sites, either, you can add publications, blogs, YouTube channels, keyword alerts, and more.
The interface is intuitive, and once you’ve read your stories for the day, you can save them for access later (such as through Evernote or OneNote) or Feedly will mark them as read. You can also share content with your fellow students or social media, and all content is categorized automatically by Feedly, or by creating your own categories.
Whether you’re into law, arts, or science, don’t fall behind the latest developments in your field of study – get Feedly and you’ll be in-the-know all the time.
The concept of flashcards is as old as studying itself. By organizing knowledge into discrete elements, it is easier to learn or memorize. Flashcards break down complex topics into manageable chunks that are easier to understand, and slot nicely into your memory with frequent exposure and self-testing.
Quizlet is the internet’s most popular virtual flashcard system, claiming that “95% of students who learn with Quizlet improved their results.” That’s an impressive statistic, and proves the efficacy of the flashcard system, as well as Quizlet’s versatile app. You don’t have to use flashcards alone – there are quizzes, games, and collaborative opportunities, too.
Create your own flashcards and share them with friends to help them pass. Ask your TA to create a set for the most important parts of your module. See if you can beat other students’ scores – even win competitions. There’s a lot going for Quizlet, and whatever it is your studying, it’s a powerful tool you can use anytime, anyplace.
There’s a sneaky rumor that most dorms reek of burned toast, baked beans, and pizza, and that hot pockets are student haute cuisine. While this is mostly stereotype, it’s true that not all of us are good cooks, and convenience – especially when competing with busy timetables – often wins the day.
But ready-made meals and takeout aren’t the ideal source of brain fuel. Home-cooking is the way to go, and you can make simple, healthy, and cheap meals through the recipe app, Yummly.
Like Feedly, Yummly is an aggregator of sorts – an online, searchable catalog of millions of recipes from various sources across the web. You can search by ingredient, cost, cooking time, dietary requirements, and lots of other variables, so you’ll always find something you’ll love.
Many of the recipes come reviewed by Yummly’s massive online community, so you can try new dishes recommended by hundreds or even thousands of people. Yummly also learns your preferences with time, returning recipes that are closer to your tastes and budget. You can share your favorites on social media, and even create shopping lists so you know exactly what to buy.
Student life can be daunting. As well as academic pressure, you have to adjust to life without mom and dad. Give yourself a head start by downloading these apps today.