5 Apps to Make You More Productive

College life can be overwhelming as you try to manage your classes, extracurricular obligations and social life. Some students get so flustered that they procrastinate or miss assignments, with their grades suffering in the process.

College life can be overwhelming as you try to manage your classes, extracurricular obligations and social life. During this busy time, technology can make your life more manageable. Here are five apps that will help you organize your time and increase your productivity:

1. Evernote

Not only is Evernote free, it is on the list of The New York Times “Top 10 Must-Have Apps.” With this app, you can write notes, capture photos, keep to-do lists and record voice reminders. You can sync Evernote with all your devices and search for specific notes. You can organize notes into specific “notebooks” or with tags and email them to others via Twitter or Facebook. College students can use this app to snap photos of PowerPoint slides and textbooks, take and organize class notes for studying later and even to upload their favorite recipes and grocery lists.

2. Dropbox

As a student, you may do work on multiple computers, even working on your smartphone when you’re out. Dropbox eliminates the need to email documents from one computer to another. It also eliminates the need for a flash drive. By installing the free app on your computer, phone or tablet, you can save any file to a Dropbox folder that you can access from anywhere. You can even create folders that you can share with other people.

Sign up with an .edu email address and get extra space!

3. iStudiez Pro

Hailed as a “sophisticated student’s planner” and a bargain at 99 cents, iStudiezPro helps you organize your life. It is a virtual planner, complete with class schedules, a calendar, grade book and homework tracker. The grade tracker helps you estimate your current GPA, and notifications will remind you of future classes, events and due dates. You can even back up your data via email or a cloud option.

4. gFlash + Flashcards & Test

Another great freebie, gFlash + Flashcards & Test lets you create and edit an unlimited number of flashcards for studying, with the option of adding images and sounds. You can also download existing cards from the gWhiz collection. Cards can have up to nine sides, and as you quiz yourself, you have the ability to track your progress. Because it’s free, there are some ads, but they don’t get in the way of your studies.

5. GradeFix

For all of the procrastinators out there, there is finally a planner with intelligence. GradeFix will organize your tasks for you: By entering details of your upcoming assignments, this app uses algorithms to plan the best schedule for you. Your work is separated into four categories (reading, homework, quiz study, test study) and prioritized. If you somehow miss an assignment, it will be placed at the top of your priorities. The only catch is that while it is free to sign up, it costs $5 per month to use.

Melissa Woodson is the community manager for @WashULaw. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and making half-baked attempts at training her dog.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year

How to Survive Your Freshman Year College is the perfect intersection of freedom and young adulthood: Never again will you be allowed to have that much fun while being responsible for so little. But as generations of students have learned the hard way, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by that freedom and go, well, a little overboard. Students who’d never had a problem doing homework find themselves tanking tests when there’s no one around to push them to attend class. People who’d always managed to have a thriving social life discover they’re about to become hermits. It’s a fun but intimidating time, and the best way to get the most out of freshman year is to remember a few key things.

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

Spoiler alert: You can’t do it all. Not even close. There will always be one more party, one more trip, one more event, one more night out, one more friend who needs a favor. College is about learning to prioritize and tell the difference between what you can do, what you want to do, and what you need to do. The biggest mistake freshmen make is taking on too much, whether in terms of course load or social commitments. If you want to get ahead, you’ll have to scale back.

Set up a schedule to follow each week and stick with it. (That’s the important part.) It doesn’t have to overly detailed or break down your life into 10-minute chunks. But you should be able to look ahead each week and know basically what you’re going to be doing every day and every night, from attending class to studying or just taking some time off to be with friends. If high school is juggling, then college is juggling chainsaws while riding a unicycle: It can be done, but it takes a lot more planning.

You should also plan for free time, too. That might sound counter-intuitive or just plain impossible, but it’s not, and it’s absolutely worth it. It’s a bad idea to skip through college without any kind of planning or time management, but it’s equally as bad to overschedule yourself. College is work, yes, but it’s also supposed to be a fun time of exploration and self-discovery and all those other fuzzy terms that basically mean “figure out what kind of person you want to be.” As you build time for study and class, leave open chunks for hanging out, eating, wandering the dorms, or just seeing what comes up. Seriously. That way you maintain a schedule and your sanity.

Avoid Credit Cards

Bankers have sent their own kids to college on the fees they collect from freshmen who make the mistake of signing up for credit cards without understanding the responsibility required. Every incoming freshman finds his or her mailbox clogged with seemingly awesome offers from lending agencies dangling the promise of easy credit and a life of luxury. What a lot of freshmen forget is that they don’t have any money, or jobs, or the ability to do anything other than buy a cheap sandwich in the cafeteria. That makes getting a credit card an almost suicidal risk.

Building credit is important in the long run. It shows banks that you’re trustworthy, it gives you access to better interest rates on loans, and it generally makes you feel like an adult. But it takes years of controlled work to do that, and college isn’t the time to start. Managing credit means using cards wisely, and only to make purchases you could buy with cash at that moment. Credit cards aren’t for making big buys that aren’t in your budget; they’re for showing banks you’ve got enough cash and maturity to pay your debts in full. Getting into credit card debt while you’re still in college means you’ll be under the thumb of major lenders before you’ve even gotten your degree, let alone found a job that will give you the money to start paying those cards off.

There’s plenty of time to be an adult and work with the complicated payment structures that come with credit cards. College is not that time.

Establish Your Independence

In other words: Don’t go home too often. College is a crucial part of the development process as students make the often rocky transition from childhood to young adulthood, and it’s tempting to make frequent trips home in an attempt to recapture the safety of the nest. It’s understandable, too. Many freshmen spent 18 years in a perfectly welcoming environment (typical dramas notwithstanding), and after only knowing one home environment, it’s a shock to be placed in a world with thousands of other students all going through the same basic emotional crises. You want to escape to a place where you know the rules.

Unfortunately, that’s detrimental to your long-term success as a student and a rounded human being. Independence is usually hard-earned, and that means getting used to being bored or rejected or even alone on campus. It means meeting people and making friends. It means shaking up your established routines and coming up with new ones. It means staying away from home.

Need to get your laundry done? Look for change. Hungry for a home-cooked meal? Organize a get-together with students at a professor’s house. Your parents are going to be there to support you as you work through the challenges of college, but you actually have to do the work on your own this time. (And if they’re like most parents, they’re probably happy to help you as much as possible but reluctant to have you extend your childhood. They’re ready for you to start growing up.) College teaches resourcefulness and problem-solving, but you won’t be able to learn those skills without first relying on yourself.

Don’t Rush the Big Choices

Freshman year can feel like a barrage of life-or-death questions: What’s your major? What do you want to do? Where do you want to live? Do you want to go out sometime?

Those are all, to be sure, pretty big decisions, but the good news is that you’ve got more time than you’d think to figure out how to make them. For instance, you don’t have to commit to a major when you begin your freshman year, and many schools don’t push you to declare until you start your sophomore run. That doesn’t mean you can slack off your freshman year — you should still take your school’s required courses, usually speech, English, math, an elective, etc. — but it does mean you’re free to explore topics that interest you and get a feel for where you fit in at school.

Your major will be a guiding force in your education and career, and it’s not a choice to be made lightly. One of the worst things you can do is select a major because you don’t want to weigh any other options, or if it’s something you don’t like but are betting you will come to love in time. (The odds are slim.) Take your time on this one. Take a month, a semester, a year. Don’t just leap; look carefully. This is a great opportunity to get to know your guidance and career counselors, as well as professors in fields that grab your interest, to find out what’s required by students in your prospective major. Check out employment prospects with seniors or counselors. Do some Googling.

The real lesson in picking a major is to learn how to examine yourself and figure out what you want, then take the steps to get it. That’s not something you can knock out overnight.

Get Some Sleep

Really, do it. Get some good sleep as much as you can. Your mental and physical health depend on it. A 2009 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that only 30% of college students surveyed got more than 8 hours of sleep a night, while more than 68% percent (!) had trouble sleeping because of stress related to their academic or personal lives. As a result, students with poor sleep habits turn in greater numbers to over-the-counter drugs to regulate their sleep cycles and moods. This, if you were wondering, is not good.

Robbing yourself of sleep means relying more heavily on medical cheats to get some rest, and it also has a negative affect on your performance during waking hours. Sleep-deprived students tend to perform worse in class and on tests than their more rested counterparts. Your body becomes sluggish, your brain has to operate through a thick fog, and your moods become more erratic. Basically, depriving yourself of sleep is a shortcut to having a terrible time at college.

So what do you do? It’s related to the time management issue that confronts so many freshmen. A lot of students stay up too late the night before an 8 a.m. class, or they simply try to live on less sleep out of a fear they’ll miss something amazing if they go back to their dorm to rack out. The “fear of missing out” is a real one, and it leads to some hectic and damaging hours. Don’t cheat yourself out of some healthy sleep. It’s one of the best things you can do to stay healthy.


If there’s one overriding piece of advice freshman should heed, one thing that feeds everything else, it’s this: Strive for moderation in all things. Party, but party responsibly. Work hard, but leave time to relax. Make new friends, but give yourself time to recuperate. Don’t shy away from big choices, but don’t rush into them, either. Lean on your folks, but not too much. Freshman year is like nothing else. If you do it right, you’ll never forget it.

Article supplied by the writing team from AccreditedOnlineColleges.com.

How to create a successful outline

Not enough people know how to properly create an outline and that amazes me. The first step is to actually understand the material you’re reading because if you’re simply taking chunks of the chapter, you’re not going to get anywhere. There are different types of outlines, there’s one that the professor wants you to hand in, outlining your research paper and there’s an outline of a chapter. This lesson is going to cover both.

Research outline

This will be the guts of your paper. Once you’ve figured out your topic and the general direction of your paper, creating an outline is pretty straightforward. You really need to know your thesis before completing the outline and my suggestion if you’re confused, is to not worry about the thesis until the end. Start with the information.

Once you’ve gathered your research, you generally know the idea of what you want to talk about first. If you’re completely lost, choose the idea that would be a great opener – something that’s controversial, interesting or your audience would agree with. To choose what’s next in line, ask yourself, “After idea A, what is an easy transition?” If you’re going from dogs to VCRs, there’s probably not going to be an easy connection. Transitions between different sections can be made very simple if you choose topics that seem to flow well together. Also remember that nothing is set in stone. If later you realize you should have put topic B where topic F is, change it.

Because this article is so long, I’m going to cut it off here and allow you to view the rest of entry if you choose to do so. (more…)

Eating on a college student’s budget

Living on a tight budget means cutting back on a lot of things and food is high up on the list. It’s hard to be creative when trying to eat on a few dollars per meal. Ramen noodles get tiring. I’m by no means a great cook, but I do all right. For me and my boyfriend, we have a budget of $300 for food each month, which averages out to about $5 a day for each of us. And because we eat really cheap food (Ramen noodles, that cup of soup stuff, etc.) for lunch, it helps average out when we want nicer meals. Our local H-E-B Plus grocery store is very helpful with coupons. It seems as if there’s a coupon on half the items you see, including what they call meal deals, where if you buy the main thing, usually the meat, you get all the extras free (ketchup, buns, pickles, etc. if it was for hot dogs) and those are great.

One of my suggestions is to always use coupons. Also, make a list before you go to the store of necessary items for the week and stick to it. This is our biggest problem. I have a list, but we definitely don’t stick to it. I’m also starting to make a list of meals for the week. We really only plan a meal for dinner because lunch is usually Ramen or a PB&J.

Cheap Dinner Ideas

  • hot dogs/chili dogs
  • spaghetti
  • baked fish (we live by the coast so seafood is way cheap)
  • frozen pizza
  • store brand TV dinners
  • frozen stir-fry
  • nachos
  • hamburgers
  • jambalaya or dirty rice (ground meat is cheap, we get sausage on sale)
  • tacos (ground beef or chicken are cheaper than steak)
  • grilled cheese
  • quesadillas
  • if you find porkchops on sale, add mushroom soup
  • macaroni and hot dog wieners
  • frito pie
  • Spaghetti-o’s or other Chef Boy-R-D canned foods
  • homemade stroganoff (I will post my recipe at some point, but you can find them online)

I’m trying to come up with more ideas, but being creative on a budget is tough. I’ve been searching for other websites that have helpful tips, but I haven’t come across very many good ones. I’m currently working on some inexpensive recipes to better food than frito pie and hot dogs.

Top Educational Apps for College Students

Did you know that, in a Pew Research Center survey taken last March, 67 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 said they have a smartphone? Two-thirds of young adults! And that’s not even counting the ones that are using iPads.

That means a whole lot of college students are carrying around mobile devices. But is there any educational value to this technology (other than the ability to Google answers and make your professor think you’re a genius)? Of course! Here are some of the best apps that college students can use to help them study and do better in class.

Dragon Dictation

Taking notes in class can be such a chore, especially when your professor talks like the Micro Machines guy. (YouTube it if the reference is too dated, kids.) The point is, it used to be that your only alternative to taking notes was to record the lecture and play it back later. That’s great, but sometimes you just want to be able to read what was said. Well, now you can, because Dragon Dictation is a free (!) iPhone and iPad app that will record your professor’s lecture and instantly transform what he or she is saying into text. Awesome!

StudyBlue Flashcards

Tired of writing flashcards out by hand or typing and printing them? StudyBlue Flashcards is a free app that works on just about any mobile device (Android and anything Apple), and it boasts lots of benefits that regular flashcards don’t. First off, you can access cards created by other users, so there’s no need to recreate common flashcards that a dozen people have already made for you. Second, you can set the app up so that you get study reminders. And finally, these flashcards actually keep score, so you know how well you’re doing and where to focus your studying efforts.


Much of college is dedicated to working on larger projects, and often that means teaming up with other people. Dropbox makes group work a breeze by allowing you to share documents on the cloud and choose who gets access to what. It’s also nice for when you somehow forgot to turn in that paper and can show your professor that you really are sending it while you’re standing in front of them instead of cheating and adding a few final touches.

Sign up for Dropbox with your student email and get double space!

Graphing Calculator

Okay, obviously not every college student is going to need one of these, but consider this. Before apps, anyone in math, science, or technology-related fields would have to spend at least $50 (and often $100 or more) to get a good graphing calculator. Want to know how much this app featured in Time magazine costs? $1.99. See, sometimes technology really does make things better. Except maybe for Texas Instruments.


For college students who do like to take notes or documenting things, Evernote is essential. It lets you record lectures, jot down information, take photos, store documents, and even “favorite” websites for research purposes. But the best part is that you can keep all of this information in a single, easy to find location so that when you’re studying for your essay on Chaucer or your Bio midterm, you can just access that folder and everything will be there waiting for you. Pretty convenient.

Samuel Clemens is a former educator who spends his time reviewing study materials for students. Click here to view the study guide he recommends for Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Budget Friendly Colleges in Every State

In today’s troubled economic times, people are struggling to earn enough money just to live. It’s no surprise then that many students are being forced to base their choice of a higher education institution on cost. Fortunately, there are affordable schools out there, no matter where you live, and you don’t have to sacrifice a great education in order to attend them. We’ve compiled a list of the top schools in terms of affordability and quality education for each state.

Alabama: In the land of the South, there’s no better place to be than Alabama A&M University, located in Normal. This school’s average tuition is an affordable $4,072 per year. This is an awesome place to be for anyone who is considering a career in agricultural, mechanical, or other hands-on fields.

Alaska: If you can stand the cold, then get yourself on down to Alaska Pacific University, based in Anchorage. Here, the average tuition rate is only $21,010. Best of all, you’ll get to live in one of the most happening cities in the entire state. Anchorage has a vibrant and fun college life.

Arizona: For a private school that won’t cost a fortune and to live in an awesome, thriving city, consider the American Indian College of the Assemblies of God Inc. Here, you’ll only pay around $6,645 per year. Plus, you’ll be a part of a very small student body (68 students at last count!). Not everyone is eligible but, if you are, you’ll get the most hands-on, dedicated attention you’ll find anywhere. (more…)

How to Find Cheap Textbooks

Textbooks are one of the most expensive costs for a college student, especially if you’re going into a major that is heavy on reading. If you’re a broke college student, finding cheap textbooks is a priority. It’s also not hard to do.

Do I need this book?

The first step is to figure out what books you need and how much you actually need them. I haven’t always used my textbooks, which led me to start asking the professor if the book is really needed. Most professors will be honest and tell you how much you need it. Sometimes you can get away with borrowing a classmate’s book if you only need the book a few times.

eBook or real book

Once you know you need a book, decide whether you want to buy a real book or an eBook. The upside to an eBook is obviously price and the downsides are that you have to read it on an electronic device and you can’t resell it at the end of the semester. Depending on your needs, make a decision.

Renting or owning

If you’ve settled on a real book, the next step is to decide if you want to rent or own the book. The upside to renting is it’s cheaper, but the downside is you can’t sell it at the end of the semester. If the book is going to be worthless at the end of the semester and you know this, go with renting. If you can sell it back to Amazon or another online marketplace with a textbook buy back program, own it.

Finding the best price

Throughout your search for a book, you will need to compare textbooks and find the best price…and the Internet is here to help. The easiest way to find cheap college books is to search websites for the ISBN and compare prices. There are tons of websites out there for you to compare prices easily and having the ISBN is the best way to do it.

Finding the Best Savings Account for You

Many college students struggle with personal finance and have a hard time saving money. On top of that, many banks don’t offer a savings account that is conducive to a college student’s savings plan and budget. To get a decent interest rate, most banks require a large balance in the tens of thousands, which isn’t an easy feat for most students.

Decide on a Savings Plan

Most college students don’t think saving money is important. While it’s true you don’t necessarily have to start saving for retirement while in college (although it definitely helps), you do need a savings account. You need to plan for unexpected events and emergencies. It also helps to save money if something really incredible comes up – like a trip to Europe. Having the financial freedom to join your friends on a vacation is a much better choice than having to beg your parents for the funds.

If you’re saving up for something specific, like a $10,000 car, figure out how much you need to put away per month. If you’re just saving money, put away as much as you can per month. Even small savings can add up over time to large amounts of money. An extra $5 per month over a few years makes a huge difference, especially if you get a good interest rate.

Finding a Bank

The first step is finding a bank that offers what you need. You can start locally by visiting banks and credit unions in your area or you can start online by searching. Credit unions will be more friendly to smaller accounts, but you will be limited by their smaller network. While a large network is more important for checking accounts than savings accounts, this may still matter to you if you live far from home or plan on moving soon.

Choosing the Best Account

Once you find a bank that you think will work best for you, look carefully at their types of savings accounts. You want to find the best savings account for you. Look at minimum deposit amounts, monthly balances and any fees associated with the accounts. U.S. federal law only allows you to withdraw money a maximum of six times per month for an account to be considered a savings account. Most banks will turn your account into a checking account if you go over the withdraw limit, and sometimes they will charge you a fee.

Choosing Your College Classes

Guest Post: Madison Hewerdine is an author who writes about health insurance attorneys and has a passion for dancing.

Picking out your college classes can sometime be just as stressful and hectic as picking from the many different health insurance attorneys. You have to first figure out which classes you are required to take, these are normally called general classes. The general classes are required but you still have to figure out the timing to fit them into your schedule.  You then have to figure out what classes you want to take each semester for your major and minor. Only after you have finished these can you figure out the classes you want to take for fun or for extra help.

Here are some tips to help you as you’re figuring out your class schedule:

  • Use the required classes as a base. As you are going through trying to pick out your classes, pick out and map out the classes you are required to take first. These include your generals and the classes you need for your major.
  • Map out a four year plan. Before you sign up for classes you should map out a four year plan. Then each year after you originally map it out you modify it each semester you sign up for classes. You modify it to make sure it is accurate in what you are required to take and what you have already taken.
  • Make a list and prioritize. Make a list of the classes you want to take and put it next to your list of required classes. Prioritize the classes or rank them according to what classes are most important. After this you will be able to figure out where you can make sacrifices as far as your classes and scheduling goes.
  • Ask around. Once you have figured out what classes you need and want to take you have to figure out the scheduling and the teachers. Sometimes you will not be able to pick a teacher or a time that you want but you should try to make it work the best you can. However, when you can choose your teachers and the times of classes, ask around. Ask others about the teachers you have and what they think about them.
  • Go to class. Go to more classes than you need the first day. You will get to see all the different classes and teachers and be able to choose better what you want for yourself. After you decide, you can drop the classes you don’t want to keep.

Surviving College While Juggling Life and Work

We all know the drill – head straight from class to work in a restaurant or shop then go home and shower left with just little time to prepare for the next day’s examination. How do you stay sane in this kind of routine while you are in college? Tough, isn’t it?

Well, college is the stage of learning how to do a balancing act especially when you are working your way to finish school. How will you deal with situation such as this without losing yourself?

1. Organizing

List down all assignments, work schedules and socialization you wish to attend. Forgetting your next day’s quiz is a lame excuse.

2. Label the list according to priorities

Among the items, what are the things you cannot do or survive without? To help you with this, make sure you consider what happens tomorrow or in the future. What are the consequences of your decisions and priorities?

3. Enjoy once in a while

Enjoying leisure time once in a while is your right – there is nothing to be guilty about. Too much of anything is definitely not good and the same is true when you just work and study without going out, catching up on sleep or starting a hobby.

4. Stay healthy

Getting enough sleep, exercising and most of all eating healthy are greatest practices for you to stay alert and ready for the tough days ahead. It prevents you from getting sick and it can combat stress. No matter what, your body is still your biggest investment.

Best Practices in Taking Notes for College Students

The mere fact that you’re taking down notes means you wanted to retain the information you wrote down. With that said, you should know exactly what you need to write down otherwise you’ll end up with too much garbage in the information you tried to acquire.

  • Identify what’s new to you. There is no point writing down something that you already know. Why will you write down the information you’ve known from the heart?
  • Determine whether your professor will most likely use the information later. Focus on things that directly demonstrate the lesson you’re studying including pertinent names, places and dates.
  • Tricky information. We are well aware that our professors always try to trigger our logical mind by setting out traps and tricky questions in their examination. More often than not, the answers to these traps are given out during their lectures – not in the book. If you are particularly keen about observing such habits then it will be easier for you to crack it down.
  • Side comments. Sometimes, side comments are ignored or considered unnecessary. However, most practical questions and answers can be found on side comments whether during lectures or books.
  • Doubts. Your doubts and questions are the best source of useful information especially when you are faced with a tough exam ahead. There is not a single student in existence without questions about a certain lesson. If you have doubts, write it down and verify it in your research later on.

There is no easier way to face college than to plunge into it headlong.

How to Study and Still have Time for Leisure

Many students make the mistake of thinking that if they study seriously they wouldn’t have enough time for leisure or to do anything they want. If this sounds like you then you’re wrong. There are various ways you can control time as you study so that you still have time for leisure.

  • Identify your goals. Okay, so you have two goals namely – study and leisure. How will you achieve both? Simple – do the 80/20. This means you need to spend 80% studying while 20% is for leisure. Isn’t 20% too small for leisure? Well, this depends on how well you see your priorities. But for serious students 20% is enough.
  • Forget about leisure first if you have some projects to finish. Once the project has been done, you still got more time to spend for leisure before you get stuck in another project again. Don’t get caught between projects. The sooner you start the project and the sooner it’s finished, the earlier you can have your leisure.
  • Spend the 20% leisure if you think you’ve been saturated by school works. However, be reminded that you shouldn’t abuse this freedom to choose when to spend the 20%. You may think it is too small but it is enough to suck you into the world of procrastination.

The only way around college life is to face it head-on. The harder it gets the sweeter it will be in the end.

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