Every fall, elementary, middle, and high schoolers crowd the school supply aisles in search of highlighters and wide-ruled notebooks. But after grade school, you can trade in the mechanical pencils and loose-leaf paper for these apps, which are designed to make your life as a college student much simpler. This selection features apps that will double as your research aide, your secretary, and even your mom.
- AroundMe. Whether you go to school across the country or in your hometown, this app is bound to come in handy. Used in more than 200 countries, AroundMe allows you to locate the nearest gas station, bank, bar, hospital, movie theatre, taxi, and more. When you’re navigating in an unknown territory, this app makes it a little less unfamiliar.
- Chegg Flashcards or Kaka Flashcards. The days of painstakingly writing and defining terms for rote memorization are over—well, not the rote memorization part. But now, iPhone users can use Chegg Flashcards and Android users can turn to Kaka Flashcards to create note cards. Chegg lets you access pre-made sets or create your own, track your speed, and more. Kaka users can incorporate images into the flash cards they assemble.
- Dictionary.com. The Oxford English Dictionary may be in a league of its own, but Dictionary.com’s dictionary and thesaurus app wins for functionality. This top-rated app, available on iPhone and Android phones, features more than two million definitions, synonyms, and antonyms. It’s also accessible in offline mode and includes voice search and audio pronunciation capabilities.
- Documents To Go. You no longer need to have your laptop on hand to create, edit, and share Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and PDF files. This app is especially handy if you need to make last-minute edits or corrections to a paper or presentation before you print. The free desktop application lets you two-way sync your files, as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection.
- Evernote. In many ways, this app is the Shangri-La of apps and a savior for the organizationally-challenged. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, and record voice memos. Notes are searchable, tag-able, and sync-able across all your computers and electronic devices. If you’re conducting research, use the app to snap photos of books. If you’re making the monthly trip to the grocery store, make sure you don’t forget anything by making a grocery list and checking things off as you add them to your cart.
- Free Graphing Calculator. Your smart phone’s built-in app is great for simple arithmetic, but your college professor probably won’t be asking you to solve simple multiplication and division problems. Aside from its ability to solve arithmetic and exponential functions, it can graph up to four color-coded equations at once and e-mail you the results. It may not be able to solve every trick your professors have up their sleeves, but it’s a cheap alternative to the TI-83. Android users can download the handyCalc Calculator, which has graphing capabilities.
- Instapaper. This app, available to iPhone and Android users, is designed to let you save something to read for later. If you coincidentally come across an article that’s great for a class discussion or another that you could cite in your research paper, simply click "Read Later" and return to the article when you have time, on or offline.
- iStudiez Pro or CoursePro. Tony Stark had Pepper Potts and The Office had Pam Beesley. In lieu of having your own all-star secretary, this app will more than suffice. Designed for iPhone and iPad, iStudiez Pro allows you to organize your schedule, track your homework assignments, monitor your grades and your GPA, and set alerts and alarms.
- Mint. College is a trial run in money management. Most students are still supported to some extent by their parents, but it’s also a chance for them to prove that they know a thing or two about monitoring their expenses. Mint, available on iPhone and Android, helps you establish a budget and stick to it. Mint provides a breakdown of your total cash and debt and your cash flow for the month. A color-coded budget bar monitors your progress, and the app will alert you if you near your budget threshold.
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