Going off to school can be a pretty exciting time, but it can be scary, too. You are on your own, with no one to take care of you or help you out. Fortunately, most of the things you need to survive away from home are often just a mobile app away. Below is a list of (mostly) free apps a student’s survival kit should include.
1) Merriam-Webster Dictionary
One of the first things you need is an English dictionary. You can look up unfamiliar words, find synonyms, listen to how a word is pronounced correctly, or see how it is spelled. The app makes it easy to do all these things, and even offer quizzes and word of the day to help you beef up on your vocabulary. It is free to use with iOS, Android, and Windows device.
Pro: This online dictionary has voice search, which allows you to search for a word without spelling it.
Con: It may be a useful app, but it as limitation of 1,000-word query per day.
Budget keeping may not be your best strength, so you need to have something like this app to keep you from overspending. Available free for iOS and Android devices, this personal budget software lets you plan your budget instead of just keeping track of it. It uses the envelope method for divvying up your money for rent, utilities, groceries, emergencies, and so on. You just have to sign up for the free account, which comes with 20 (10 regular+10 more) envelopes and syncs up to two devices.
Pro: This app would show you where your money was being spent, with pie charts to help you analyze your spending habits.
Con: Self-control might require more than good advice from the Internet.
Need a book right now, and have no idea where to get it? CampusBooks comes to the rescue! Available for iOS and Android users, it searches for the lowest prices for books and textbooks (rent or buy) and the nearest places from which to get them. Additionally, it will help you offload your old textbooks for the highest prices possible.
Pro: This app saves you time and money, as it shows prices from different sites.
Con: You may rely on your local library when it comes to hard-to-find titles, and you might need it right away.
4) Sleep Cycle
Getting the right kind of sleep is all-important when it comes to learning, so the free version of this app is the perfect companion for you. Available for iOS and Android users, it monitors your sleep rhythm using your smartphone’s microphone and accelerometer (when available) to determine when to wake you up within the period you set. This ensures you get the best sleep quality possible without making you late for your classes.
Pro: You'll be able to keep track of a regular sleeping schedule.
Con: There are nights when it takes you longer to fall asleep, even insomnia in one (or two) instances. It happens.
5) Circle of 6
Nervous about being away from home? The Circle of 6 app bands you with up to six of your closest friends so you can keep each other safe. Available for iOS and Android users, different icons represent different pre-programmed texts to send to your circle using two taps. For example, the Pin icon asks for a pickup at your GPS location., while the Phone icon sends a request for a call back for a needed interruption.
Pro: Isolation or safety won't be a problem, as you have six trusted people to rely on.
Con: The app can give a sense of false assurance at times. It's also hard to tell if your so-called friends are sincere at all.
6) Office Lens
This free app for Windows, iOS, and Android devices is your best friend when it comes to taking down notes. It takes a photo of anything with text such as the blackboard or documents and saves it as editable and shareable text (Word, PDF, or PowerPoint) on your device. You no longer have to deal with cramps writing down notes, or lug around hard copies of lecture notes and textbooks.
Pro: You can scan documents, whiteboard, and cards, making them readable and editable.
Con: You'll have a problem with curved surfaces, even complicated business cards.
7) myHomework Student Planner
Staying organized can be tough when you have to juggle classes, extracurricular activities, and a social life. This free app for iOS, Android, Windows, and Chromebook keeps you on the straight and narrow by organizing the schedule of your classes, homework, tests, project deadlines, and other academic requirements. The free plan does all this, but if you want to sync it with your other calendars or add attachments, fork over $4.99 for the premium version.
Pro: Coursework may be a walk in a park.
Con: Some students see it as perfect, but it's still a work in progress. It will be minor issues only.
If you struggle with math as most people on the planet do, you will love this free math problem solver app for iOS and Android. Simply snap a photo or type in the math problem giving you a headache and the app will solve it for you if it can. You can get the answer for different types of math problems, from Basic Math to Calculus. If you need a step-by-step guide on how to get the answer, though, you will have to pay.
Pro: Students struggling with math have the opportunity to learn more after class is over.
Con: This app provides solutions, and some students may use it to "cheat" their way to a good mark.
Do you have a paper to write? Of course you do, and probably more than one with the same deadline. The biggest problem is not the writing, however. It is organizing your thoughts and materials so you can visually map out your strategy for tackling each project. Simplemind is a simple yet powerful mind mapping software that does precisely that, even with the free version. You can create a mind map manually or using an auto layout directly on your smartphone and save to Dropbox.
Pro: Understanding complex concepts won't be a problem anymore.
Con: Some students think best whenever they are away from the computer screen.
10) EasyBib No one likes to do the bibliography or reference pages for academic papers. It takes a long time to do, and it is easy to make a mistake. You can send it to a service such as Essays scholaradvisor to do it for you, or you can try out the free EasyBib app for Android and iOS. It automatically generates citations in 55 different formats when you put in the title or URL of the source, or scan the ISBN using your camera. You do have to check if the fields are filled in completely, and if you happen to need it in APA or other advanced formats, you need the paid version.
Pro: Creating bibliography will be a painless process, as you only need to fill in book titles.
Con: Some sites may be better - and free.
Laura Buckler is a writer and a part-time English teacher. She regularly contributes helpful articles to the school blog as well as other student-oriented sites to help them cope with school life.
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