15 Apps to Beat College the Easy Way

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Most fear is based in a lack of knowledge – when it comes to college, it’s easy to be scared if you feel that you are unprepared. Luckily, there are many who have gone before you who know what you will need, and they’ve made an app for it! If you want to get a kickstart on your courses, or if you need the reassurance that only an established plan can give you, establishing and familiarizing yourself with the best set of apps to deal with anything your courses can throw at you is the perfect solution.

While every student needs a different system, here are 15 apps that can get you started on your journey and help you discover the best way to manage your coursework.

Schoolhub
Free for most services, additional services available for $4.99 a year

green schoolhub logo
© Schoolhub Inc.

Schoolhub is a free app, originally created for professors to share their course schedules and assignment dates. However, it has also become the best school planner you’ll ever use. Schoolhub allows you to create courses, track contact information and office hours for professors, and organize exams, assignments, and more, all through one easy-to-use interface. Schoolhub is a single, integrated app that gives you the combined abilities of a calendar, a to-do-list, a contact book, a project tracking application, and a communication platform, all in one, attractive system. Schoolhub is available on web, iOS, and Android. If you check out only one app on this list, this should be the one.

5 schoolhub logos
© Schoolhub Inc.

For a yearly subscription fee of $4.99, you can upload syllabi to your courses, attach documents to assignments and exams, add subtasks to assignments, and create repeating assignments. Seriously, it’s the cost of one burrito and it’ll help to further save your academic life. Even if you really can’t find $5 once a year, Schoolhub is still a blessing for the harried, disorganized college student in all of us.

Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive
Free, with additional subscription options to increase available storage size

If you’ve ever had a laptop die on you, if you’ve ever had the power suddenly go out, or if you’ve ever experienced a school emergency of any sort, you know the internal panic of losing pages of precious, difficult work. If you want to be able to breathe easy, regardless of what happens to your hard drive, cloud hosting services are the best option for you. Across the board, they feature automatic syncing across all your devices, file hosting services, and some degree of sharing ability. Here are three great options:

One Drive logo
® Microsoft
  • OneDrive is the native cloud backup service for Microsoft. It has apps for desktop, webiOS, Android, and it comes pre-installed on Windows phones. OneDrive is integrated into all Microsoft programs, and allows you to easily access your files through these services or a stand-alone application from any device.
full dropbox logo
Dropbox and the Dropbox logo are trademarks of Dropbox, Inc.
  • Dropbox is a third-party cloud hosting service, storing files for you to access from anywhere you need, and it is available on desktop, webiOS, and Android. Dropbox, in addition to hosting your files, allows you to share files and folders with others, and work on projects with friends.
© 2015 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google Drive is a trademark of Google Inc.
© 2015 Google Inc. 
  • Google Drive is your best choice if you want to be able to work on files with friends. Through their integrated word processor, spreadsheets app, and more, you can collaborate on projects in real time from anywhere in the world. Google Drive is available on webiOS, and Android, through your Gmail account. Please note that, while Google Drive is also a file hosting service, they sometimes lose files and projects. While this is rare, make sure you save your work elsewhere as well.

You can pick the app that works best for you, or you can use some combination of the above. In some instances, all three might even be useful!

Microsoft Office 365 Student
Price varies based on school eligibility

® Microsoft
® Microsoft

While we’re on the topic of storing documents, we must also remember to create them! Don’t forget: with your student e-mail account, you are eligible for a free or highly discounted subscription to Microsoft Office 365. Check out the UITS site for more information on what software and services you’ll have access to, both on and off campus, as a KSU student.

Evernote + Penultimate
Free for most services, additional services available via subscription

© Evernote Corp.
© Evernote Corp.

Have you ever struggled to keep track of physical, handwritten notes? Want freedom from lugging a backpack the size of a toddler across a huge campus? Taking notes on a tablet or laptop may be a good solution for you. A program like Evernote can be a great option – you can take notes, create to-do lists, and save things you find online. Evernote is incredibly flexible and allows for a variety of attachments. You can annotate the PowerPoint you’re working on in class in a note, you can include the file for a syllabus as you take notes on the project, and you can embed images via easy drag-and-drop options as you take notes. Evernote is an especially great option if you struggle to keep track of your notes, as it lets you search your notes for phrases and organize them using notebooks and/or tags. Evernote has many options, meaning you can tailor it to best suit how you learn. Evernote is available on desktop, webiOS, and Android, and automatically syncs your notes across all of these platforms.

© Evernote Corp.
© Evernote Corp.

If you have an iPad, you can take notes through Penultimate, Evernote’s app for taking handwritten notes. Created by Evernote, Penultimate combines the benefits of taking handwritten notes with the search and syncing functions of Evernote. If you don’t feel comfortable typing notes, or you just like the greater freedom that comes with being able to draw diagrams and doodle sketches among your notes with ease, Penultimate could be a great option for you. When used in conjunction with Evernote, where all of your Penultimate notes can be integrated into your Evernote notebooks, this provides a valuable tool for those that like to color outside the lines but still need to be able to efficiently keep track of the information they record.

Pocket
Free, with a Premium subscription option

© Read It Later, Inc.
© Read It Later, Inc.

If you ever find an article that you want to read but don’t have time to, if you find a story that you love, or if you find a great site or online resource but don’t like having 300 tabs open in your browser, you can just put it in your Pocket! Pocket is a cross-platform app that allows you to save articles, videos, and pretty much anything on the internet indefinitely; they can be sorted using a tag system, and you can read them later even when you’re not connected to the internet. Pocket is great for saving resources for essays, news articles that you don’t have time to read, or even just cute YouTube videos that you can’t watch in class. Pocket is available on webiOS, and Android.

Dragon Dictation
Free, with some paid options

© Nuance Communications
© Nuance Comm.

When you reach the point that your fingers are threatening to jump ship if you type another word, but your paper is demanding another thousand words (and trust me, you’ll reach this point before the end of your freshman year), a great, and frequently under-utilized, option is dictation. Dragon Dictation is one option of many, but it has one of the most intuitive interfaces and some of the best voice-recognition of any of the apps available. Dictating allows people to, on average, get words down five times faster than speaking. If this sounds attractive, check out Dragon Dictation on iOS and Android.

WolframAlpha
Basic options free, pro subscriptions increase tools available

© Wolfram Research, Inc.

Need help on math homework, but you don’t want to just get the answers? WolframAlpha doesn’t only solve most math problems prior to Calculus III, but also helps you understand the solution by providing step-by-step explanations. While the web version requires you to purchase a membership to get access to step-by-step explanations, you can get them for free through the mobile app, available on iPhone and iPadAndroid, Windows Phone and Tablet, and Kindle Fire.

iTunes U
Free

© Apple, Inc.
© Apple, Inc.

iTunes U is a relatively new section in the Apple iTunes Store. It contains free educational content, featuring audio and video files which includes podcasts, short films, and more. The content is created by many educational institutions, including universities, museums, and some public media organizations. They offer free downloads on iPad, and iPhone. Even if you don’t have an Apple product, you can still access these materials on your computer through the iTunes Store.

Duolingo
Free, with some paid options

© Duolingo

Duolingo is a language-learning tool for both the independent language learner and those learning languages in academic settings. It features written lessons, dictation exercises, listening challenges, and many more features, including chat bots to help you learn how to implement the vocabulary you’re learning. To read more about Duolingo, and to discover other apps to help you in your quest to learn a new language, check out So You Want to Learn a Language? by The Peak magazine.

EasyBib / Cite This for Me
Free, pro subscription unlocks more citation styles

©Cite This for Me
© Cite This for Me

In college, you’ll write enough papers to wallpaper your dorm room, and then you’ll write some more. Since plagiarism happens to be frowned upon, citation generators will save you hours of work and confusion. Both EasyBib and Cite This for Me are great options for you, depending on which user interface you like best and what citation styles you use most. Both allow you to easily cite a lot of sources and can generate bibliographies for you in a range of formats. EasyBib is geared towards quick citation, while generating the whole bibliography is a secondary function. Cite This for Me functions as a “smart bibliography” of sorts, where your sources are formatted properly as you build your works cited page.

 

© EasyBib, a Chegg service
© EasyBib, a Chegg service

EasyBib supports MLA, APA, and Chicago/Turbian citation styles, and can be found on webiOSAndroid, and the Google Chrome Store. Cite This for Me supports Harvard, APA, and MLA citation styles, and can be found on web, iOS, Android, and the Google Chrome Store.

SelfControl
Free

© SelfControl
© SelfControl

SelfControl is a free Mac app that allows you to block access to distracting websites, social media, e-mail, or anything else that’s preventing you from getting work done. Once you set the timer, the list of blacklisted apps and sites cannot be accessed until it has run out – even if you restart your computer or entirely delete the application. This app is great for the days that you just can’t seem to focus, but have to do schoolwork using the time-wasting black hole that is the Internet. For those that aren’t Mac users, some great alternatives to SelfControl are: StayFocusd for Google ChromeCold Turkey for macOS, Android, and Windows; and Freedom for macOS, iOS, and Windows.

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Camille Reaves
A human "busy" status, the list of degrees that I am attempting to get is longer than The Life of Pablo's feature list. I am a third year student at Kennesaw State University, double majoring in Computer Science and Computational & Applied Mathematics, with a minor in Software Engineering. My true loves are back-end programming, encryption, and every known animal on the planet Earth. I have been the Tech Editor for the The Peak since February 2017; as such, I'm the one you can send glowing e-mails and writing inquiries pertaining to the Tech section.