Salute to Spouses Blog

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Apps for Students: Part One

Three years ago, when I started college, I learned …well, I learned a lot of things. But one of the most important things I learned was that writing assignments and their due dates in a planner did not work for me, and neither did physically carrying everything I needed to study effectively.

Why didn’t it work, you ask? 

I’ll tell you why: because college assignments are long. Everything about them is long - the instructions, the rubric, the references. And fitting that amount of information into a teeny space on a cute notebook page or in one binder just isn’t feasible. Enter the student’s best friend: technology.

There are a number of ways that technology can be a huge asset when it comes to the daily lives of college students. One type that I have become ridiculously dependent upon is the app. The app is small, but it is mighty, and it is versatile.

Here are a few that have helped me immensely:

Electronic textbooks have become increasingly popular in the last several years. Using apps like iBooks and Kindle are an easy way to simplify and downsize physical bulk. Often, these apps include features that allow the user to highlight and bookmark passages, add notes, look up definitions and web search simply by selecting an area of the screen.

Similarly, apps designed to read PDF and document files can be extremely beneficial. Not only can documents be imported into the reader, but often can be noted, highlighted, and categorized in folders. One app that I’ve found that blows the rest out of the water is Document 5. It allows the reading of books, articles, and documents, along with the ability to search within those for specific words. It will store photos, videos and music; sync with iCloud, Dropbox, and Google Drive, manages files, and can be password protected. Basically, it’s a phone-sized filing cabinet with a tiny personal assistant surprise inside!

The Kahn Academy offers an app with a wide range of information, including print and videos. I promise you, with my heart and soul, that if you struggle with any kind of mathematical concept, The Kahn Academy has a video to walk you through it. Think I’m joking? I had to take five preparatory math classes before I was allowed to enter a 100-level class. That’s how bad I am. The tutorial videos were simple and clear, and helped me salvage the remainder of my sanity. Anyway, the app’s content can be browsed through and searched by a specific word or phrase, and offers a variety of test preparation and practices. Kahn is also partnered with a number of reputable organizations, like the California Academy of Sciences and The J. Paul Getty Museum, which makes finding legitimate sources for research a snap.

Would you like to know the best thing about these apps? They’re all free. Yeah, you heard me, free. So go load up your electronics with these helpful goodies, and the next time you go to class, maybe your bag won’t give you such a backache!

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