It’s a much different world since I’ve been in college. The tools I used most were pen or pencil and paper – planners, index cards, highlighters, textbooks, etc. Now there are digital versions of all these and more.
There are apps and websites to assist with all areas of college life:
- Focus. Thank God Pokemon Go didn’t exist when I was in college. If you find yourself distracted when you should be studying, apps like Self Control allow you to block certain websites for a specific time period. Forest rewards your time spent away from digital distractions by planting digital trees and when you’ve earned enough points can even be used to plant a real tree. If your friends are constantly texting you and you have an iPhone, the “do not disturb” setting is key. Use it to schedule regular study periods and sleep. Mine is set for every night 11pm to 7:30am.
- Sleep. Whenever it was too noisy to sleep, my roommate and I would listen to her Yanni CD or I would try to sleep with my headphones on, but the end of the CD or tape would always make a noise that woke me up. Apps like SleepMachine have all sorts of soporific sounds to which you can fall asleep and Sleep Time can track your sleep quality and wake you during a time of light sleep so you’ll feel more rested and less groggy when you wake.
- Write. I had to take my handwritten papers to the computer lab to type them up. Now you don’t even have to type at all, just speak and Dragon Dictation types it for you. MLA, APA, ACS – whatever style you need, the EasyBib app can put your citation in the proper format and can even create a citation by scanning a book’s barcode! Even if you don’t have a computer nearby, Microsoft Office Mobile lets you use your phone to work on papers.
- Store. With cloud storage options like Google Drive and Dropbox professors no longer accept “I lost my floppy/zip drive/jump drive” excuses.
- Plan. All those study plans that I recommended making are easy with apps like iStudiezLite, My Study Life, and Exam Countdown. Most of these combine to-do lists, calendars, and notifications. You might even be able to access your school’s course management system from your phone and receive notifications of due dates and exams straight from your courses’ calendars.
- Learn. If I didn’t understand my professor’s lecture, I could read the book or go to office hours. Thanks to sites like iTunesU, Coursera, and Kahn Academy, you literally have access to course material from professors all over the world – notes, video lectures, audio lectures, etc.
- Organize. We used to call them Concept Maps, but now graphical ways to represent concepts and ideas are call Mind Maps and apps like XMind and Simple Mind mean no markers are required.
- Study. When I took ornithology a few years ago for fun, my classmates (some of whom were also my students) introduced me to digital to the flashcard app, Brainscape. I now have a lifetime subscription to the pro version and still use it to study birds before I travel someplace new. The best thing about this and similar apps like Quizlet, Flashcards+, and StudyBlue is the ability share flashcards or download someone else’s deck.
- Save. Keep track of your spending and manage your money with Mint.
- Be safe. The Circle of 6 app lets you choose your 6 and two taps lets them know where you are and how they can help.
If you choose to check one of these out, let me know how it goes. If you like one that’s not on this list, please mention it in the comments.