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.