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.

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.

Useful Tips to Succeed in College

For students who are currently attending college, surviving the rigorous training may not exactly be the task you signed up for but nonetheless you are required to complete. Here are some useful tips that you can make use of:

  • Study your lessons at least 3 days prior to your major exam. If you can study for at least around 2-3 hours a day, this would be very helpful especially when you don’t do well when you cram. If you have time management strategy, this would be very simple.
  • Don’t study the night before you take the exam. Instead, you should go to bed earlier and get plenty of rest so that your mind will not get too exhausted which will result to sleepiness on your exam.
  • Go to school at least 1 hour prior to your examination and take your seat at least 10 minutes before the exam commences. This allows you to relax and prepare yourself for the upcoming challenge.
  • Make sure you read instructions well and follow them strictly so that you wouldn’t have any problems later on.
  • Scan the entire paper before you answer any question so that you can have adequate time to plan ahead. This way, you would know how much time you should allot for each item.
  • Always check the back of each questionnaire so that you wouldn’t have to miss anything.
  • If you are answering essay questions, it is important that you state your complete answer. You need to read the question properly and answer it completely.
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Job Transfer

Guest post of the week by Brittany Booker

When my husband told me his job wanted to transfer him to Florida I was excited about the opportunity. He was scared to tell me because he thought I wouldn’t want to move so far away, but who wouldn’t want to move to sunny Florida? I knew I would enjoy the warm weather and I thought I needed a change. I will miss my family, but I’m sure they will come and visit since we will be in a great location close to all of the theme parks. We are planning on moving down there by the end of the month, so I’m trying to get things organized. We already found a place to live, so now I am setting up all of the utilities. I’m not too worried about home security Orlandoright now. I think I’ll wait to check out the neighborhood to see what we should do on that front. I have applied for a few jobs so far so I hope I will have some interviews lined up soon after we arrive. I can’t wait to move already!

Chicken or Beef Tacos

The budget of a college student is stereotypically small for one reason or another, but that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck eating ramen noodles and Kraft Mac N Cheese.

Ingredients

  • Chicken Tacos: 1 lb chicken* cooked
  • Beef Tacos: 1 lb ground beef cooked
  • Taco shells or tortillas
  • Cheese
  • Sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. if you want

Tacos are one of my favorite meals because they’re hearty and delicious, but very cheap. If you want to go the extra mile, you can make your own tortillas. White Wings makes a tortilla mix that you just add water to – it’s very easy, just roll the dough, flatten it and pan fry.

*What kind of chicken? Light or dark meat, bone in or out, it only matters for amount of prep. If you want to get bone-in chicken, you can boil it til it’s almost done and then peel the meat off. White meat shreds better than dark meat. I pan fry it with seasonings and butter or olive oil.

Contest: America’s Smartest Slacker

CourseSmart and CollegeHumor are holding a contest to find “America’s Smartest Slacker.”

From their website: “That’s why we want to hear the story of the smartest, cleverest, most creative academic shortcut you’ve ever taken. You can submit your story below – the winner gets $1,000 CASH. They will also snag a year’s supply of free eTextbooks from CourseSmart, AND will have their story turned into an animated video on CollegeHumor! Enter now!”

To enter, you must be a college student enrolled in an accredited university in the United States 18 years or older. Submissions are accepted now through Monday, February 7th.

Click here to enter for your chance to win $1,000!

Halloween is upon us again

I was walking through one of my favorite places, The Dollar Store, and after passing cheap margarita glasses shaped like cacti, I saw it…the Halloween section. Already. It’s August 1st. School hasn’t even started. But to make matters worse, it got me thinking. What should I wear this year? Do I want to go as Catwoman or as Neytiri? Maybe Jesse from Toy Story? What is my boyfriend going to wear? What about my friends?

This year my friends and I decided we wanted to have matching costumes. After visiting a certain club last year on Halloween, we learned they hold group costume contests every year. We’ve narrowed it down to Alice in Wonderland, Toy Story or Scooby Doo. (I’ve already called Daphne) These group costumes would actually make Halloweene even more exciting. It makes mingling more interesting and it’s easier to keep track of your friends amongst a heavy crowd. I think Scooby Doo would win that one over Alice because of originality. Everyone loves Scooby Doo.

I’ve warned y’all before – don’t buy costumes in shops or rent them. Find one of the many great websites that sell Halloween costumes, like Halloween Express. They actually have a huge selection (since originality is very important – without it, you always lose) and are fairly priced for an online costume store. Shopping around is always important, especially when you’re on a budget. I’ve found that you can sell your used costume on eBay and get some of your investment back…if you don’t throw up on it or spill liquor on it…

Halloween costumes

Padme Halloween is still almost two months away, but seeing as how it is one of the biggest excuses to party, it deserves some adequate planning. It is the one time of year where girls can dress in the skimpiest outfits and no one can call them a slut. It’s the one time when the streets will be covered in pumpkin guts and when everyone can drink until they puke. Oh wait, that last one happens all the time.

In all seriousness, Halloween is my favorite pointless holiday and searching for the perfect costume starts very early. This year is going to be themed for me and my boyfriend. We’re going as Padme and Anakin from Star Wars. And this year I’m actually going to buy my costume instead of try to make it. (That failed miserably a few years ago.) BuyCostumes.com has over 15,000 costumes for various holidays, but mostly for Halloween. Their costumes are all new and are usually much cheaper than you would find in a regular costume shop. My Padme costume is going to cost me $50 from them, but when I found one in the costume shop downtown, they wanted $100 to rent it.

Watch TV Online for Free

Who needs cable when you can watch all your TV online – for free? I know I sure don’t (I do however pay for basic cable because it’s cheaper because of bundling). There are plenty of ways to catch up on your favorite TV shows without being a slave to their schedules or shell out a small fortune.

1. Hulu has a large number of TV shows and movies, as well as video clips. It’s missing a lot of episodes and series/movies, but it has most of the popular ones.

2. Surf the Channel is a similar website that has pretty much the same content, but it does have a few that Hulu does not.

3. Most of the major networks have their recent episodes available for online viewing.

4. Torrents. Because I don’t want the MPAA cracking down on me, I’m not saying that I do this. It’s just one possibility.

5. YouTube, which is not supposed to have copyrighted content, actually has plenty of it. There are a lot of series uploaded to YouTube. This is how I watched season four of Grey’s Anatomy actually.

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