8 Great Apps to Send College Students to the Head of the Class

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Woman student in library, looking at cellphone
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Today’s college students have an extra advantage when they head off to school — a tiny computer that fits in their pockets. Smartphones live up to their name these days. In addition to web-browsing, Facebook-liking, emoji-texting and making the occasional actual phone call, there’s a whole world of useful apps out there that no student should be without. Some are even as valuable as the phone number of that one pizza place that has free delivery and throws in extra garlic bread.

Here’s a look at eight apps that will help collegians survive and thrive on campus. (Note: Not all apps are available for all smartphone varieties, but this should give you an idea of what’s out there.)

1. EasyBib

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Writing college papers is tough enough — composing the bibliography shouldn’t make things even harder. With EasyBib, just gather the books you used for your paper, then either scan the bar codes or type in the title, and the app will offer up the information. The free version of the app uses MLA style, but subscribe to the Pro edition ($9.99 a month, two-day free trial) for APA and other styles, as well as parenthetical and in-text citations and footnotes. Use the time you save by not fussing with the bibliography to give that paper one more careful edit.

2. Dictionary.com

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You may be familiar with dictionary.com’s website, which allows you to search over 2 million words for definitions, synonyms, word origins, pronunciation and more. Download the free app for all that, plus enjoy the fun Word of the Day definition and handy offline access. Word up!

3. Dragon Dictation

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You can probably think of a million ways to use Dragon Dictation, which listens to the words spoken into it and types them out (not perfectly, but not half-bad, either). Maybe you want to read your class notes into it so you’ll have a neat typed version from which you can copy and paste. Or compose your thoughts for a report or project while keeping your hands free (maybe while jogging on the treadmill). Diary entries, emails or letters to mom, the first chapter of the great American novel — if you can think of it, you can dictate it.

4. Alarmy

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Few subjects are tougher for college students to master than getting up in the morning. Alarm-clock apps are great, but you can hit that snooze button and sail back to dreamland, sleeping right through that bio exam. Not so with Alarmy. Before you go to sleep, when you’re still bright-eyed and determined to get up at the crack of dawn, you take a photo of a location far away from your bed — your front door, the upstairs bathroom, the inside of the fridge, whatever. Then once the alarm goes off in the morning, it won’t stop until you get your tired self over to that location and take a photo of the matching location. Brilliant, and also absolutely fiendish. Sleep tight!

5. Mint

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Surely there are college students somewhere for whom money is not a problem, but for the rest of us, there’s Mint. This free financial-planning app isn’t just for students, but it’s never too early to start managing your money. Create a budget, track and pay bills, sync your bank accounts and even get warnings when your balance is low. Not that, uh, that would ever happen.

6. Brainscape

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You may have learned back in grade school that flashcards are one of the best ways to learn, whether you’re studying multiplication tables, SAT vocabulary or state capitals. Brainscape takes the simple and successful flash-card concept online. You can create your own flashcards and access a couple of ready-made flash-card sets for free, or upgrade to a paid account to access cards created by others on subjects ranging from Spanish to statistics.

7. Evernote

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Every college student takes notes, so every college student could get some help from Evernote. The acclaimed app brags that it’ll become “your second brain,” and that’s really not far off. You can compose notes, organize them, sync them across numerous devices, add in audio and video, and much more. You’ll find plenty of online guides and tutorials, but the best way to learn how to best use Evernote is just to jump in, then fit it to your studies. A-plus!

8. Unplugged

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Last but not least, here’s the app for when other apps (and websites, and games, and friends) have dragged you away from your homework just too often. With Unplugged, choose an amount of time to stay phone-free, and the app will scold you if you try to get on your phone before that time is up. You can also set goals and try to beat your personal best, because sometimes being unplugged is the best way to plug in.

What study tools did you employ — before or after the smartphone revolution? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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