Must Have Apps for College Students

Got a Smartphone?  It seems like this line has replaced the old Got Milk? phrase.  Although iPhones and Driods and other smartphones have had a bad rep when it comes to their effect on education, there are ways to put your phone to good use in the classroom and library.

Since all college students seem to be on a budget of some sort, I will narrow the list of best apps to have in college (to use productively) by only sharing the free apps.

gFlash+ Flashcards and Tests: This has been named the best free flashcard app! Instead of carrying around big stacks of flashcards, they can all be on your phone.  Yes, those thick clumps of flashcards do make you look smart, but so do a pair of non-prescription glasses.  Plus, this app will gain you hipster points as it is an eco-friendly alternative to using all those index cards and ink.  This app will not only let you create and edit your flashcards, but you can download information from a Google Docs Spreadsheet, add images and sound clips, track your improvement and more.

College getting expensive?  Interested in topics other than your major/minor but have no time to fit them into your schedule?  iTunes U provides full access to free courses created by top notch professors at real universities.  Even Ivy League quality courses are available.  This app gives you access to audio, video, books, documents, presentations… all of the course materials.  Just don’t get too lost in the app and miss the classes you’ve paid for!

Evernote is a mobile app that works across the iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Palm Pre and is web sync friendly.  Taking notes has never been easier, but instead of just textual information, add voice, photos, locations and tags.  Using an electronic version of note taking gives you the ability to share information with peers, professors, and friends.

College students have been stereotyped to know nothing about current events and more than enough about pop culture.  Instead of getting into the statistics of how uninformed we are, let’s just start a new trend and make a news source our homepages.  Whether it be CNN, BBC, or Huffington Post, download a free news source app to stay in the know.

So you and your friends are looking to get off campus but you’re not sure where to go.  Download Urbanspoon to see all of the restaurants in the area.  You can narrow your search down by price, distance, and/or type of cuisine.  They are paired with Google Maps to be sure that you do not get lost getting there.  They also provide information about the restaurant such as how many others liked it, the phone number to call for a reservation, etc.

Quick! You have class in ten minutes!  Get up! Get Dressed! Wait, what’s the weather like?  What should I wear?  The Swackett app helps you decide what clothes are weather appropriate for today.  This app reminds me of a mother telling a schoolchild to grab an umbrella or put on a warm coat before rushing out the door.


I’m reading Essentials of Meteorology: An invitation to the Atmosphere

On a Date or Dating Your Cell Phone?

We all do it, in fact it’s become an unconscious habit. We check our phones, update our Facebook status, and even use our phones as a pseudo watch. Advances in smart phone technology have helped transform our cellular devices into an extra appendage! Although it may be difficult, we need to remember that face-to-face communication trumps all and sometimes it’s okay to put the phone down.Cell Phone Dating

I used to be offended when my dad would snuff “I’ll just wait until you’re done texting” before he would carry on with the conversation we were having. I would get so defensive, stating “but dad, I’m still listening! I can do both!” But what I didn’t stop to consider was the message I was sending him but directing my focus at a screen instead paying attention to what he was saying. Multi-tasking ability aside, I was being rude. We all think that we can do a million things at once—check email, walk and text, check the time, respond to a text, etc. but we should stop and smell the roses! If someone is standing if front of you—regardless of who it is—resist the urge to let your fingers do the talking and give them your undivided attention. How would you feel if you were trying to tell a story and someone found his or her little screen to be more interesting than you?

Here are my top situations when it’s best to hold off on the “oh so important message” blinking on your device:

Meal Times: We all want to feel important when surrounded by others. We want to feel in the loop and well informed. But texting at the dinner table, or table for that matter is just not okay. Consider the message you are sending. You’re supposed to be breaking bread, not making people want to break your phone. Save this time to converse with your family or friends, and wait to text your crush back for those extra 10 minutes, it won’t kill you! Bringing any device out during dinner shows that you aren’t interested in the people or the conversation. Show you care by taking part, and send your next words with friends play after you clear your plate—think of it as extra brainstorming time.

One on One Conversations: If someone is trying to talk to you—it doesn’t matter what time of day, in the morning, or the way to class, in the hall—resist the urge to play with your phone. Odds are you are only in short conversation; there is no need to see if time has passed, or if a new email has come through. Unless your talking partner explicitly asks for a contact, keep you’re electronics locked safely in your pocket. The art of conversation is sacred. If you have to reach for your phone to feel comfortable, chances are you need more one on one practice making small talk.

During Class: So we all know the drill. You are sitting in class, the clock is behind you and you’re desperately awaiting the end of this lecture. Now sneaking a peek at your “watch” that conveniently has a keypad and large-scale screen is okay every once and a while, but texting the whole time? That’s a violation of every college rule. It’s important for you to catch up on last night’s activities and hear the gossip that’s floating around, but did you forget you’re paying for each second you’re in class? Why waste it or something that can wait? Your texts will still be there, your gossip still intact. Plus won’t you feel cooler when you have lots of messages waiting for you, inside of getting out of class to an empty box because you already read them all? The professors get mad, you miss notes, you lose your place, wouldn’t you be doing yourself and all of us a favor if you just left your iPhone in bag for the whole 50 minutes? Try it. See how it feels. Do you notes look different? Did you do better on the test?

At the Movies: Enough said. How is anyone supposed to sufficiently watch “The Vow” with all the glaring phone lights going off in the theater? Everyone wants to watch their movies in peace, so let’s eliminate the problem and invite miss chatty Cathy to the movie with you so you don’t feel the need to text her in the middle of it!

So remember, there is a time and place to be on your phone. You can hurt someone’s feelings by always being glued to your keypad and you may miss important details if you’re always plugged into technology instead of reality. Remember to switch off and live in the moment—talk to friends, don’t text them. Phones don’t last forever, and neither will your friends if you spend more time tweeting than talking.

-Ring Queen

I’m reading Financial and Managerial Accounting