Thursday, September 25, 2014

Apps Every College Student Needs

Ten Android Apps Every College Student Needs

Ten Android Apps Every College Student Needs

By Guy McDowell
You’re already in school and almost a month has passed. You’re getting the idea of this college experience, but you could use a little help. That’s what smartphone’s were originally designed for — to help the person on the go make the most of their time. Here’s a brief look at a few Android Apps to help you get the most out of your college years.
These are apps that will benefit any college or university student, from the liberal arts frosh to the seasoned physics graduate student, and everyone in between. Even better is that most are free! Even your professors might benefit from these apps. One app in particular must be on every college student’s phone. Scroll to the end to see that one.

Your Official University App (Free)

Many universities and colleges offer free apps now. They allow you to view maps, class timetables, news and events, and many integrate with the school’s email and marking system, so you can stay right up to date.
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You may be able to find a download link from your school’s website, or you can go over to Google Play and do a search for your school’s name. Just make sure it’s the official school app and not one that someone threw together.

Mint.com (Free)

If school teaches you anything outside the classroom, it’s how to make due with limited resources. Time and money are the ones you’re most often lacking in. Mint.com has been around forever, but it might be new to you. Now’s a good time to start using it, and learning from its extensive library of personal finance info. By the time you graduate, you should be able to manage your money possibly even better than your parents.

Mint.com can keep track of your bank accounts, spending habits, and help you create a budget you can live with. By setting up bill reminders, you can make sure everyone gets paid, and your credit rating stays good. If you’re trying to save up for a little spring break trip, Mint.com’s financial goals tool can help you with that as well. We’ve done plenty of articles about Mint over the years, but this one on budgeting with Mint is a great place to start.

My Study Life (Free)

Cash is one of two things you’ll never have enough of in school. Time is the other. By learning to use an app like My Study Life to manage your time, you’ll be making sure you get things done, and leaving time for the odd pub crawl. Or Latin Club. Yeah, that’s it.

Being available on the web, My Study Life makes sure you can check your schedule even if you don’t have your Android device with you. Just hop on a computer in the library or at your friends’ place and check it out. If you’re looking formore information about My Study Life, we’ve got that.

Easy Voice Recorder (Free, $4.25 Pro)

Taking notes properly is an art form. Until you master it, try using your Android to record the lecture, with Easy Voice Recorder. Take your notes, and when you get back to your dorm, listen to the recording and see if you missed anything important. Depending on what you use to playback the lecture, you can also speed it up, so you only have to spend another 30 minutes to listen to the same one hour lecture. Often the free version of Easy Voice Recorder will meet all your needs. But an extra $4.25 for the Pro version is a steal.

If a friend couldn’t make the class and wants to borrow your notes, you could send them the lecture recording instead. This might even be a bit of a cash making opportunity. Nothing wrong with getting paid for your time.
If you’re looking for an app to record just the highlights of the lecture, why don’t you check out Cogi Voice Recorder?

Google Drive (Free for first 15GB)

You could use any cloud drive to store your work, but Google Drive does work inherently well with Android. Plus, you have the ability to create new documents, spreadsheets and more when you don’t have access to Microsoft Office or Apple iWork.

If you’re backing your work up to your Google Drive as well, you need not fear that you could lose everything if your computer dies or gets a nasty virus. 15GB is plenty of room for a semester’s worth of papers and research. We’ve even got an article on using Google Drive to help with research.

Evernote (Free, $5/mo Premium)

Speaking of research, there aren’t many apps out there to contend with Evernote. Create notebooks to store your research in, whether it’s bits and pieces from web sites or handwritten notes you can store and categorize them all in Evernote. Then when you’re ready to sit down and write that paper, all of the information is there at your fingertips.

It’s also stored in the cloud, so it’s available to you wherever you are. You’ll probably find that the free version is sufficient, but at $45 a year for the premium account, it’s still a bargain. Evernote is powerful and there’s a lot you can do with it. Why not check out our full manual on how to use Evernote?

CamScanner (Free, $50/yr Premium)

This is one of those apps that you might not think could be helpful. Then you start using it. Then you start using it for everything. It’s much more than just a fancy way to take a picture of stuff on paper. It’s like a whole document management system.

Buy something? Scan the receipt! Use that receipt in your budgeting or so you can print a copy if you need to return the item. Found an interesting article you could use in your term paper? CamScan it, perform OCR on it, and cut and paste the quotes you need into your paper. Too much on the white board to copy into your notes? CamScan! Of course, like any good app, your scans can be stored in the cloud so you can access them from anywhere.

RefMe (Free)

Doing research and writing a paper can be tiring, but it always seems like doing the references and bibliography is the worst part. So boring and too easy to screw up. Yet it’s just as important as any other part of your paper. RefMe can help make the task a lot simpler though. Often, you can just take a scan of the book or journal’s bar code and get a nicely formatted bibliography entry, in one of 6,500 referencing styles.

Once you get the references you need, you can email them to yourself or export them to Evernote. Of course there’s the option to save your references to the RefMe website where you do many more things with the information. If you’re looking for good sites to find references, check out our 6 top reference sites to write a winning research paper.

StudyBlue Flashcards & Quizzes (Free, $48/yr Pro)

The average person goes to the bathroom 6 times a day. At least that’s what the Internet says. And you know you have your smartphone with you. Instead of texting your friend about the soul poop you just had, what if you just went through some flashcards or quick quizzes on stuff you’re having a hard time learning? That’s whatStudyBlue Flashcards and Quizzes is all about.

There’s a huge library of already created flashcards and notes — over 250 million of them. And you can make your own cards and quizzes too. Your professor might even have published some specifically for your class. If not, why not suggest it to them? Imagine, six more study opportunities a day has got to make the difference between a C and a B. Eat lots of bran and you might get an A.

Panic Button (Free)

Some schools have over 50,000 students. Even small colleges will have a few thousands. You don’t know these people and some of them don’t understand boundaries. If you have to walk home from class in the dark, having an app like Panic Button may just save your life.
Panic Button is the brainchild of Amnesty International, and many partners. It was originally developed to help people in high conflict areas like Egypt or Sudan, but it can work for you too. Everyone should have this app, not just students and activists.

Program it with the phone numbers of people who you trust and can get to you quickly. If you find yourself in a scary situation, activate it, and Panic Button will send them a text message to call for help with your location at the time you hit the panic button.
You have to have GPS enabled on your Android for the location part to work. The app will then disguise itself as a calculator app, so your attacker most likely won’t know that Panic Button is even working. There are other ways that you can use your smartphone as a personal safety device too.
Be aware, however, that apps like Panic Button should not be your first defense in these situations. Most schools have shuttles or walk-home services to make sure that you aren’t alone and vulnerable. Use them. Your tuition pays for these services — so get your money’s worth. It never hurts to stay safe, but if someone is attacked or sexually assaulted, remember that it is not their fault. Since colleges are notoriously bad at handling sexual assault cases, resources are available for college students at RAINNProject Sister, and Peace Over Violence.

The Takeaway

You’ve got a world of support in your pocket that wasn’t there 10 years ago. People made flash cards on paper, carried around day planners, and had to read through the course calendar to find out anything about their school.
Use these tools to get the most out of your education. It’s your life; it’s your future. The more you invest in yourself now, the greater the return is in 10 or 20 years. Sure, ‘C’s get degrees, but ‘A’s get careers.
Image Credit: Nexus 7 Office Environment via PlaceIT.

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