best apps for college students

My brother is going to college this year, and ever since I got home from MIT he’s been asking me for tips. The other night he was trying to get me to tell him what kind of toiletries to get or something and I basically ignored him and ended up waving my phone in his face saying, “OK, you gotta get this app, and this one, and this one…”

This list is an attempt to spare my poor brother from my unsolicited advice. Also back-to-school season is fun! So here are some of the apps I use at school:

  • ColorNote / free / Android: This is the app I use for keeping track of homework. I had an Android phone back when Androids were the biggest phone and this lets you put a giant sticky note on your screen to actually use some of that space. It’s a little buggy but it does the job. (But I’m accepting alternatives, pls post in the comments.)

ColorNote in action.

  • Forest / free for Android, 99¢ for iOS / Android & iOS: Forest is a cute little app that helps you stay focused–you plant a tree, the tree grows for a set period of time, and if you leave the app during that time you kill the tree. I used it during lectures when I’m really tempted to text but I really, really need to pay attention. I mean, nothing bad happens if you kill your tree, but still, it’s sad!
  • Darker / free / Android: I love this because it makes my phone screen even darker than the brightness setting allows. Maybe the Galaxy S3 is just terrible but I always want my phone screen to be a little bit darker. Boom: this app does that thing. Perfect for texting in a dark classroom when your professor is playing a boring video. (What? No. I never do that.)
  • Magoosh Vocabulary Builder / free / Android & iOS: I’m taking the GRE pretty soon and a lot of my friends are using this app to brush up on vocabulary. It’s pretty, it’s a pretty productive “oh no I’m bored let me unlock my phone” app, it gives me a false sense of security about my GRE study habits.
  • Clue / free / Android & iOS: Clue is my favorite period tracker app. It’s relatively non-gendered which is nice and it’s not too buggy. And I like tracking my period on my phone because it means I don’t have to remember anything!
  • Mint / free / Android & iOS: So, you’ve probably heard about this one but I’ll say it again: this app is really really good for budgeting/keeping track of money. Right now I get a weekly email from Mint telling me how much I spent each week. I’m super anxious about small/large/any purchases so it really helps me put things in perspective!

Also: Facebook Messenger is kind of awful but you’re probably going to want to install it because some classmate, someday, is going to message you on it asking for urgent homework help and then when you don’t see it they’ll be secretly sad at you for the rest of the semester. (Okay, fine, I used to be an avid Messenger user–the stickers are so cute!–but now I’m so annoyed by Facebook’s weird app tyranny that I fervently wish I could uninstall it. But, aforementioned reasons. Grumble grumble.)


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