The 8 Best Apps For College Students

I’m going to be blunt here and say that as college students, a good chunk of our lives resides on our phones. There, I said it. And I’m not necessarily talking about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m talking about the last minute (and enviable) email from your professor about class being cancelled, the room number for your advisor’s meeting that you jotted down super fast in the notes section of your phone, or your bank’s app so you can make sure you’re still a broke college student but not quite a broke college student. Phone apps make it easier for us to tackle the daily high’s and low’s and in-between’s. I’m constantly trying out new apps for various things and deleting the ones that don’t work for me. I definitely have my favorites that I don’t even remember how long ago I started using — I just know that my life wouldn’t be the same without them — and I have a few new ones that I’m starting to use every single day. So I wanted to create a post on the eight apps that I think are the best for college life.

This post doesn’t include any apps that are specifically to help you study for an exam, mostly because I think that the way you study depends a lot on the class you’re taking and I don’t think there’s any one app that can help you study the best for EVERY, or even most, classes out there (and also because I haven’t used a study app for my classes for a very long time). Definitely let me know if you’ve used any of these apps!

1. Google Drive/Google Doc

I am truly obsessed with Google Drive. I use it to take ALL of my notes for every class because I love that everything saves automatically, so I don’t have to worry about losing my hours of hard work if I forgot to save the document. I also love having the convenience of being able to open up my work on any computer or device. I’d also create study guides in there so before an exam, I could just study from my phone while I wait in the hallway rather than having a million pieces of paper around me trying to study. If you need to edit documents, however, you definitely need to download Google Doc. This is great for on-the-go editing, especially when you’re in college and super busy.

Related: The Confused College Student’s Guide To Good Note-Taking

2. Google Calendar

Google Calendar is probably my favorite app for managing my time. I like writing out to-do lists and I also love being able to see what events or assignments are coming up on an actual calendar, but I also love receiving reminders about those events. When I’m on the go, iced latte in hand and two-ton backpack on my shoulders, I don’t have time to stop and whip out my planner (as beautiful as it is) to check what I have to do next. So Google Calendar is perfect for when I have obligations that are back to back and very little to no break in between. I set reminders for 10 minutes in advanced, and I make them as detailed as possible — building, room number, etc. — so I don’t have to go digging for those details in emails or pieces of paper. Sometimes staying on top of your obligations really just comes down to remembering you have them. I highly recommend giving Google Calendar a shot for organizing your daily life.

Related: How To Create An Effective Study Schedule

3. Square Cash

Square Cash is an app that literally all my friends have been talking about. When we go out to dinner, do fundraisers, or do other things where exchanging money is involved, my conversations usually go something like this:

Me: “Can you take cash?”

Friend: “I don’t have any change. Just send it to me on Square Cash. Do you have it downloaded?”

Me: “No…” *insert awkward half-smile here*.

Yeah, that’s basically how it goes. So I finally decided to download Square Cash because I realized that more often than not, college students use debit or credit cards to pay for things (I know, what a SHOCKER!!!) and some people don’t really exchange physical cash anymore. If everyone’s out to dinner and one friend decides to pick up the tab with his or her card, everyone decides to pay him or her back through Square Cash. It’s as simple as that because the app connects to your bank account. This app is also free, so that’s an extra reason to get on it!

Related: How To Be Money Smart While Studying Abroad

4. GroupMe

I don’t know if GroupMe is big on your campus but it’s HUGE on mine. Almost every club or organization uses it as a messaging tool for their group events/meetings. It’s also perfect for contacting your teammates for class projects. When I studied abroad in Ireland, there were 32 other students with me (which is a fairly large group) so in an effort to get to know each other better, ask important questions about assignments and excursions, and plan activities on our free days, we started a GroupMe and it was extremely easy to relay messages to the entire group. Slack is another messaging app that’s used by some companies and organizations for communication. I use Slack at my current internship and it comes as a downloadable app for your desktop or laptop, so it’s extra convenient.

Related: 11 Tips For Conquering Group Projects

The 8 Best Free Phone Apps For College Students

5. Sleep Cycle

Recently, I’ve been feeling very tired in the mornings. Although I end class late most days, I do work in between classes so I can still get to sleep early enough for my 8a.m. classes. So I’m pretty confused as to why my eyes feel so tired and why I still feel exhausted sometimes. I read about Sleep Cycle online and it’s an app that analyzes your sleep patterns and finds the appropriate time to wake you up (when you aren’t in deep sleep). I downloaded the app and you have to select a time frame that you would like to be woken up between. Because I’d want to wake up for my 8a.m. class, I’d select the 5:50a.m.–6:20a.m. time frame (I like being able to eat breakfast in my room and shower in the morning, and I have a pretty long walk from my dorm room to my class). I plan to use the app for an entire week to see how it compares to waking up to my regular phone alarm, but I just wanted to put this one out there in case anyone has heard of it or used it before.

Related: How To Get 8+ Hours Of Sleep In College

6. Pandora

It sounds weird to say that you need a music app for college, but I’m putting this on here because I think that music is such a huge part of our generation (and any generation, really). Listening to music is great while studying or working out, and Pandora is great for creating stations that you like to listen to and also discovering new songs you might be into. Sometimes when I’m playing a song from my station, a random song in the same genre as my station will come on and I usually like what I hear so I’ll ‘like’ the song so that Pandora will keep playing similar songs for me.

Related: The Ultimate Study Session Playlist

7. News app — CNN, BuzzFeed, etc.

What better way to stay current than to download a news app so you can read the news! You’ll get notifications when they publish the most relevant or biggest stories of the day. Yes, I know you can just use the apple news app, too, but if you want to read the news from the more than one source so you know as much about the story you’re following as possible, downloading apps is the easiest way to do that. The apps are free in the app store (yay!). So you can catch up on all the latest news while you wait in line for your iced mocha at Starbucks.

8.  Your school’s app

Download any and all apps that your college makes available to you; I promise you, they WILL come in handy. And if you don’t want to download all of your school’s apps, at least download the ones that have to do with safety. My college has a few apps for keeping students safe, especially when they’re walking back to their dorm rooms late at night, and I know other colleges do the same thing. Another really useful app my school has is its campus transit app. My campus is really big and we always have over six different buses running throughout various points of campus. The app lets me know when a certain bus will arrive at a certain stop, so if it’s winter and freezing outside, I can plan ahead to arrive about two to three minutes before the bus is expected to be there so I’m not waiting out in the cold for too long.

Do you use any of the apps on this list? What other apps have you found to be useful? 

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  • Huh, I have never heard of the Sleep Cycle app! I’m the same and tend to get a decent night’s sleep but still feel so tired in the morning! I’ll have to download it and check it out.

  • I swear by Google Docs/Drive! It’s so much easier to do group projects when you’re using this… I’ve also started using it for blogging purposes, like this I can always access the documents, even when I don’t have my laptop with me!

  • Square is awesome, but did you know you can receive and give cash with the Facebook Messenger app. There isn’t even any fees attached at the moment. Not sure if it will always be that way, but I have sent and received money very quickly and you even get your money basically instantly. It’s awesome!

    • I didn’t know that! That sounds extra convenient since you can use an app you likely already have to send and receive money. I’m definitely going to check that out now, haha! Thanks for letting me know, Amanda! =)