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.

Dropbox

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.

Evernote

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.

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.