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.

Being Productive While Commuting

Generally, it is not good for the eyes to read while on the road. Well, I beg to differ – most of the time we spend at least 30 minutes walking to get to our classes.

Thirty minutes can make a big difference in your learning experience. Here’s how to be productive while commuting –

  1. Listen to audio books, podcasts and class recordings – It has been proven that listening can significantly improve your knowledge base. It helps you discover the things you might have missed before.
  2. Always keep flash cards with you all the time – Flash cards are easy to read and it doesn’t even take 30 minutes to cover everything.
  3. List your priorities for the day – You can list on a piece of paper your itineraries for the day so that it is easier for you to stay on track.
  4. Proofread your papers – You can scan your papers and check for grammatical, spelling and sentence construction errors.
  5. Scan class notes – Reading while you are on the move is a big no-no thus it is better to scan your notes or probably take a peek on highlighted texts.
  6. Return calls and text messages – If you missed some calls and messages, the great time to respond or take a call is during your commute.

Finally, learning how to relax through breathing techniques while you are commuting is a great way to become productive.

Benefits of Trade School

We have touched on alternatives to traditional colleges before, and it is definitely worth another look. If you were raised like I was, your parents only advocated for college. Trade school was never a thought in their mind, and mine because of it. However, if you have struggled with traditional academic programs, you should think about trade school.

Benefits of Trade School

They teach you a trade. Instead of focusing on a broad range of academics, with a focus in one area, trade schools teach you one specific trade. Examples include accounting, cooking, dental assistance, medical billing, paralegal, HVAC, etc. Once you graduate from a radiology program, for example, you will be able to enter the workforce as a radiologist. If your trade needs a certification, the schools will arrange and prepare you for the test.

Trade school programs often have smaller classrooms, which gives you more one-on-one time with the professor. Your peers are also taking the same classes so you can easily form study groups. This can also help you build meaningful contacts to help your career.

Studies have also shown that employers show a preference for students with tech school diplomas because they already have the know-how and hands-on learning.

The best benefit of all, it’s quicker and cheaper. Graduating from college takes 4 years, on average, while trade school is much quicker. Some programs are only 6-10 weeks and some take 2-3 years. Either way, your overall expenses, including tuition and fees is much less than they would be if you went to a four year university.

Mint – Refreshing money management

Mint.com is a new online budgeting tool. You input your bank and credit card logins for their websites and it gathers the data and pulls all of your financial information together. It simplifies everything because it’s all in one place. You don’t have to login to six different websites to pull up your balances. They also have an alert system to notify you when your balances become low so you don’t overdraft.

I tried it out and was actually very impressed. If you’re not sure how to budget or don’t want to bother, Mint is a great way to keep track of your money. I personally found it a little too simple for me. I have an exact image of the way I want my budget to be and I’ve just had to keep using a spreadsheet do so.

I really like how it breaks down spending and shows trends. It doesn’t always recognize certain charges, but for the most part, it puts them in the right categories. It compares cash and debt, which is nice since apparently it thinks I have more cash than debt (it doesn’t know my poor “cash” is really all debt in student loans.) It does know, however, that my most frequent stop is at HEB (grocery store).

The feature that shows ways you can save money by switching accounts is nice, but doesn’t really apply to a college student with little credit. Mint thinks I could save $424 by switching checking accounts and credit cards, but what it doesn’t know is that I can’t just get another credit card because mine has too high of an interest rate.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to a website like this, the most important being that they have your bank information. As a paranoid person, I just don’t like giving other people my passwords to anything, much less my bank accounts. What with all the security leaks recently, I’m even more paranoid. It doesn’t take much to hack a website and steal all of this information. Other than that, sometimes it seems too simple for me. I have a pretty complicated plan for my budget and have yet to find a program that does what I want.

Pick a Prof

Right before registration, I was sent a letter about a website called Pick a Prof. For $10 a year or $5 for 4 months, it allows you to look at reviews other students have written about professors at your university. They offer additional services, which I haven’t seen in any other websites.

They have grade histories, a schedule planner, student reviews, and textbook pricing and exchange. The website does have a lot of information about the services they offer, but unfortunately, you can’t try anything out until you buy a subscription. It was very helpful when scheduling my classes because I wanted to make sure I could find time to work and study without being overloaded. I didn’t use the professor reviews this time because as freshmen, we were limited because of our first-year seminars and our advisers helped register us during orientation.

It also has a Facebook application that helps to find classes with your friends. The professor reviews are collected online, but also from end of semester evaluations. Grade histories are straight from university records, so they’re not biased in any way. I also love the schedule planner. Sometimes it’s hard to make sure you get the best times for classes and make sure you’re not going to mess yourself up. They’re planner gives you a view of what you can take when, how long it will last and make sure you have room for work, sports, etc.

Some universities even pay for you to use this service. My mom’s school, for example, lets you have free access to Pick a Prof if you can validate your school’s email.