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.

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.

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.


  • 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.

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.

Take control of your online identity

The internet, which used to bring a sense of anonymity, is now the easiest way to find everything about you. Between Facebook and Myspace anyone can pull up all kinds of information about you, including photos, personality traits, contact information. Besides guarding your privacy, you can take other steps to ensure you have a safe online identity.

1. Use ClaimID. This is a website that pairs with OpenID to have one login for multiple websites. This way, you can make sure your information is tied to one username. So when your potential employer googles your name, you can make sure he only sees what you want him to see and not what some crazy man with your name posted on Myspace.

2. Run your email through IdentiFight. This service will find website accounts that are tied to your email. It will pull up your flickr, myspace, magnolia, etc. So be careful NOT to give your mom the same email you post pictures of you drinking beer on myspace.

3. Search different combinations of your name on google. See what comes up.

Guard your privacy

Myspace and Facebook both have settings to help guard your privacy. For myspace, you can and should set your profile to private, especially if you post any personal information, like your full name, address and phone number. Employers and schools can and do monitor what students post on social networks. Most of this seems like common sense to me, but apparently, it doesn’t to most college students. Guard your privacy. You’ll be surprised to find out what information is out there about you. Keep these basic tips in mind on all social networks, not just Myspace and Facebook.

General tips

  • Don’t post personal information (phone number, address, school, job, etc.) on anything public
  • Don’t post pictures, bulletins, notes, etc. that show you doing something that is illegal or would otherwise get you kicked out of school/fraternity/clubs
  • Don’t become “friends” with someone you don’t know
  • Don’t post bulletins threatening someone – police are able to monitor these

Facebook has the ability to set a limited profile. Under privacy settings, you can set what your limited profile shows, and you have control over everything from your photos to your friends. Set up a limited profile and add all the people you barely know or only know online to this list. That way they will still be your friend, but don’t have access to very important information about you.

Block the Facebook beacon – Facebook’s new advertising program follows you around the web and makes note of your purchases. You can turn off the mini feed notifications under privacy settings, but the beacon still collects info about your online activity. Learn how to turn this off (Firefox required).

The best way to protect privacy with Myspace is to not post personal information and set your profile to private. Don’t add random people as friends. The privacy of Myspace isn’t as flexible as Facebook, but not as many college students use this service as much anymore.