Our parents went to college in “tough times.” They had to use the physical library for their research; they didn’t have laptops and tablets – some had word processors in labs for paper writing and printing, but most still had portable typewriters in their rooms. Millennials and the generation after them, however, have instant access at their fingertips, and, yes, research, writing, and just general navigation through college life is now made easier with thousands of tools and apps. What hasn’t changed, however, are the issues that college students still face – academic, financial, and social. But, as the saying goes, “there’s an app for that.” From library access to writing to personal finance, here are some of the best apps and tools you can use.
11 Must-Have Tools
Best Essay Education: Okay. You are seriously behind – it happens even to the best students. You have that essay due in that required geography class that has nothing to do with your major field. Your options are to take time away from more important coursework and try to write a decent piece or forget it and take the “f.” There is a third option. Contact this online writing service and get it written by an expert. You’d be amazed how many students use writing services when they are up against a wall. His one gets high marks from students.
Any.do: When you are trying to juggle homework, long-term assignments, activities and events, along with laundry, bill paying, etc., you need to-do lists. In the past, these were scribbled on pieces of paper which were then promptly lost, and things got overlooked. No more. With this great app, you can not only create a to-do list but you can sync it with all of your other devices, check off when things are done, change priorities, and even add new tasks by voice command. Keeping yourself organized is the first step to college success.
Scribd: This is the largest online library on the web. How it differs from your school’s library is this: you can select a topic and find documents, journal articles, and books, and you can then create your own library on that topic and share those resources with peers. Great for group projects!
Feed.ly: Yes, you are busy. You’ve got deadlines, essays and papers, your part-time job, parties, laundry, and more. Still, you would like to keep up on current events, at least in those areas that are of interest to you. Instead of scrolling through Yahoo news or MSN, download Feed.ly. You can list your topics of interest, and this great little tool will scour around and find news on just those topics for you from all news feeds on the web.
Dropbox: This has become a “must have” for business professionals but it is the perfect tools for students who need to save, organize, and share their notes. You can upload files, photos, and other documents and have them stored in the cloud. Being able to retrieve them on any device wherever you happen to be is just a huge convenience.
Mint.com: budgets. It’s tough for college students to live within a budget when all those unexpected or impulsive expenses come up. And if you are trying to save some money for next semester, it’s even tougher. Mint will help you set up a budget, provide alerts when you are exceeding your budget, and let you see where your money is going, so you can make better decisions.
CliffsNotes: Your parents used to buy Cliffs Notes booklets at the store. Now you have it all online. If you are in a lit class and have to write essays on the assigned reading; if lit is not your “thin” but the course is part of your general ed requirements, you are probably not interested in spending a lot of time on these essays, even if you have read the book. This little tool gives you a “run-down” on everything from plot, themes, characters and more, and will give you great ideas for your essays.
Mathaway: Students who are not in programs that are math-related still have to take those one or two required math courses – college algebra comes to mind. This resource is perfect. You can upload your math problem and get the answer, along with the steps for solving it, or check your answer against the right one. It is available as a standalone website or as a downloadable app.
EasyBib: One professor wants MLA formatting; another wants APA; and if you are in certain fields, they will want Harvard or Turabian. It doesn’t matter anymore. You don’t have to go through style manuals and figure all of this out. EasyBib lets you insert the resource information and the desired style, and this tool provides both in-text and end-of-text citations you can just copy and paste. Use the web version or download on either your smart phone or android device.
SelfControl: if you are easily distracted and need to stop and check your Facebook, email, or Twitter, you know you are wasting valuable study time. With this app, you can block certain websites for a set period of time. Many students find this really works well. Practicing and mastering self-control is a great prep for the real world.
Snap2PDF: You will find that many of your professors want a PDF version of your writing. And, when you get ready to send out resumes, a PDF version is better than Word. So, download this app to your iPhone or Android and convert documents back and forth with a couple of clicks.
This is just a small dose of all of the tools and apps that are out there to make your college life easier. You have a lot of independence in college and with that comes a lot more responsibility. Keeping yourself organized, finding tools that will make your coursework assignments easier, and managing your calendar and finances are great preparation for real life. Fortunately, you live in an age when those tools are all at your fingertips. Use them!