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.

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.

3 Ways to Get Paid Helping Other Students

This guest post was written by Brendan Baker, a writer for the Student of Fortune blog. You can also find him on the site’s twitter page: @studentfortune

Like any college student, you’d probably enjoy having a little more money in your pocket. But if you don’t have the time to dedicate to a full or part-time job, what other options do you have? Of course there are online opportunities, but more often than not the job is either a get-rich-quick-scheme or an always dubious work-from-home gig. You’re starting to wonder if there are any easy and reliable ways to make money out there.
Well look no further. Below I’ve listed 3 ways of making money that are simple and legitimate. But as an added bonus, these sites will not only bring you some serious dough, but you’ll be helping students like yourself at the same time.

Ready? Here are 3 great ways to earn money by…

1. Running errands
This is a relatively new concept that is really catching on. One of my favorite sites for this is called TaskRabbit, and the idea is simple: If you have an errand to run but you don’t have the time or energy, why not pay someone else to do it? Users can post just about any kind of task they need completed and others in the area will bid on the opportunity to complete it. The person with the lowest bid (and assuming they have passed a background check), gets the job. From picking up groceries to helping a neighbor move, there is no limit to the different kinds of tasks offered. Look for jobs you can bid on around your campus.

2. Tutoring
Are you a math whiz? Maybe you’re an expert in Greek architecture. If so, did know you could get paid for your expertise? Homework help sites are a great place to not only get help with math, science or a variety of other subjects, but you can make some pretty good money tutoring people in those subjects too. In fact, one of the highest earners from a site like StudentofFortune.com has made over $280,000 (Click here if you don’t believe me).

3. Taking notes
Ok, so maybe you’re not a math genius, but perhaps you take good notes. Lucky for you, now you can sell your quality work to needy students. All you have to do is upload your notes, specify the class, and then wait for an anxious student to purchase them. This might be a great alternative if you want to make some money but you don’t have a lot of time on your hands. I like Notehall for this.

As you can see, there are lots of legitimate ways to earn cash without breaking a sweat (unless of course your task is to move a piano across town). In all three of my examples, money can be earned without a long application process, with little to no work experience, and all on your time. Best of all, you’re helping students succeed at the same time. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Added by That College Kid Sydney

I personally have been using Cash Crate to make money since 2008. You fill out surveys and signup for websites. You will need another email address because you will get bombarded with marketing emails. Cash Crate is a great way to make easy money. I haven’t actually filled out a survey or done an offer since 2008. If you refer people, you get a portion of their earnings and a portion of their referrals’ earnings, too.

Find Cheap Textbooks

College students are often broke, which is why it’s ironic that textbooks are so expensive. Between your crappy job, financial aid and maybe your parents, you may not be able to afford all your books. Fortunately for you the internet has made it so much easier to find cheap textbooks.

Years before, students have to pay for everything when they purchase their books from shipping to handling and this will make it even more expensive. However today, you can find several places where you can buy textbooks online at a cheaper price. You can even rent the books at your convenience.

Years ago, choices were limited. You could buy from your campus bookstore and maybe from another bookstore in town. Used books were from other students and you were relegated to looking on bulleting boards for ads. Now, it’s just a quick search.

First you should always check your official bookstore. If your school gives you a textbook list online, that’s even better. But it’s always best to check with the bookstore and get the book title, author, edition, ISBN, description of the front cover and price. Take a photo with your phone if you want.

Then take that information and start your search. Campus Books is the best place to start looking for cheap textbooks. You can search by title, author, ISBN or keyword and narrow it to purchase or rental or compare them. They even include e-books, which are gaining in popularity because they are much cheaper than most new books.

The key to textbook shopping is to compare prices. If your bookstore only charges $10 more and you need it that day, spend the extra money. If not, wait a few days. Make sure to take shipping and taxes into consideration – online purchases often mean no tax and you can usually find coupons for free shipping.

There is a Campus Books textbook search in the sidebar of this blog.

Spring break on a budget

Spring break on a budget

As soon as you stumble back from winter holidays, spring break is all you look forward to. You think about saving money so you can afford to go to Florida or South Padre, but you know you’ll probably blow most of it on beer. I’ve been there and what I discovered is that you can have a great spring break with almost no money. (more…)

5 Ways to make some quick money

1. Sell on ebay. This requires some research, but what I do is scour Best Buy and Circuit City (and other such electronics retailers) for great sales, then buy the product and put it on ebay. Best Buy has some great sales where you can get $100 off retail value, sell it on ebay and get a $50-75 profit easily.

2. Join websites that pay you to fill out surveys and do free trials. The ones with high payout are usually trial offers that require a credit card to join, and if you cancel within the trial, you won’t be billed. I’ve made $80 in two months with Cash Crate. You’ll also need an extra email address for all the spam you will get from the surveys.

3. Do laundry for your friends. It costs me $2 to wash and dry one load of clothes, so charge $4 and you make easy money with a few minutes of work.

4. Bring energy drinks and snacks to all-night study sessions in the university center or library and sell them to the different study groups. This works best during finals week.

5. If you’re decent with computers, start a computer maintenance “business”. Post flyers advertising your services around campus. Offer to backup hard drives, clean up and optimize computers, install new memory…Charge half of what it costs to take it to Best Buy.

Tips on how to save money

Money Surviving College Life has created a list of 50 Ways to Save Money in College. The list is broken down into eight categories that basically covers everything. Here are what I think are the top five tips (with my comments):

19. Use student discounts when you travel. Check with the bus, train, or airline you are using, or use a student travel site like StudentUniverse.com.
Don’t limit this to just travel. Most places in a college town have discounts for students. Use them!

22. Reduce your electricity bills: turn off your computer when you’re not using it, turn off lights when you leave the room, unplug appliances you aren’t using. Electricity is my second-highest bill, which I thought was due to my air conditioning. After doing some experimentation, I realized it’s my huge entertainment stations – TV/Playstation and my computer desk. Turning off electrical items is a tip which you will frequently encounter at money-saving sites, and it’s one which can have a big impact on the size of your bills. Getting into the habit of turning off electrical appliances is also something which will benefit you later in life, not just during your time at college. When I turned these things off for a week, my bill was CUT IN HALF.

35. Understand what your credit score is, and keep it healthy! It will help you save money later when you’re looking for low interest rates on car or home loans. Credit is very important for later in life and if you start building it (smartly) now, you will be ahead of your classmates by a long shot. Need help with this? Try Get Rich Slowly.

39. Don’t eat out. It adds up quickly, and if you’re not getting fast food, you have to add a tip. Eating out is one of my vices and I’m working on that. Restaurants are expensive and can be just as unhealthy as McDonald’s. You’re much better off (budget-wise and health-wise) if you cook healthy(-ish) meals on your own.

48. Sign up for freebies with your favorite restaurants. By signing up with Hollywood Video’s newsletter, they send you free movie rental coupons on a regular basis. I use these to supplement my Netflix addiction.

Visit Surviving College Life to read the full article, 50 Ways to Save Money in College.

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