Apps and college have a love-hate relationship. When they work together, it’s awesome. When a make-believe farm distracts you from the term paper with a very real midnight deadline, it’s not so awesome. Still, you can’t ignore the fact that your phone is always with you. It’s in your back pocket, or the front of your backpack, so you might as well use it to its full potential. Here are 10 apps that’ll help during that first year of college:
1. The HW App
When you start the semester, you’ll have a blank planner just waiting to be filled out. You’ll keep up with it, at least for the first few weeks. But soon enough your planner will end up under the growing pile of laundry, lost forever, and you’ll convince yourself you can wing it. You’ll just use your good old memory to know the dates for the midterm paper. A better solution? The HW App. Keep track of assignments by subject, set reminders for upcoming due dates and make special notes of what the teacher is asking for. That new planner in the Target dollar bin is cute, but you’ll lose it. As for your phone, that’s always with you.
Rather than split the bill 10 ways, just put it on one card. Venmo lets you send money directly to your friends’ bank account. It’s the perfect way to pay people back for food, gas and the week you lost your wallet. It also takes away any excuses from the friend who never carries cash. Have him Venmo you. Best of all, Venmo gives your mom an easy way to send money your way, which is something you’ll be thanking me for when the summer job money runs out.
Coupons are going to be your friend. You might not have realized how much laundry detergent costs, or just how much Dad pays for a gallon of milk. Each trip to the grocery store will shock you more. But there’s a saving grace. Shopular keeps all of the weekly ads in one place. Find out what’s on sale and where. I’m not saying you should be crazy enough to be on Coupon Wars, but downloading Shopular is a positive step toward a healthy balance.
Most freshmen won’t have a car. Some schools specifically don’t allow cars for the first year. In some ways, it’s fun. There’s camaraderie in finding a ride and taking a group trip to Target. Still, asking the upperclassmen down the hall every time you need to run an errand isn’t fun for you or them. Uber is an easy way to get around. Whether it’s for a short trip to the grocery store or a long trip to a concert in the city, Uber provides safe drivers in your area to take you where you want to go. Plus, if you and your friends split the bill it keeps cost down. It also gives the upperclassmen down the hall a night off.
So this app is super cool, but your teacher will also have to be super cool to let you use it. You can create a lecture, title it and create interactive notes with voice memos, photos and recordings. All teachers have different classroom technology policies. Ask if you have their permission for voice recording, and if photos of PowerPoint slides would be OK as well. Most teachers understand that technology is something that can both help and hinder. Just show them that you’re hoping to use it for good. Chances are they’ll be open to it.
The inside of a Starbucks can feel like home. Probably because it’s interior is the same everywhere. In college you’ll spend a lot of time there, so it’s best to take advantage. First step, become a gold member. If you earn 30 stars within a 12-month period your shiny card will come in the mail. Earning 30 stars is easier than you think. Second step, use the rewards. This card gives you a free drink after every 12 stars. It also allows you to get free refills on coffee and tea. You can set up camp at a Starbucks for the afternoon and get free refills the whole time. Just turn Starbucks into your own office, coffee maker and free Wi-Fi included.
7. I Heart Radio
For some people, home is the morning DJ on their favorite station. If you move to a new area, you might miss his morning jokes and familiar playlist. Not to worry though, I Heart Radio has you covered. Search for your hometown station, chances are you’ll find it. They have 1,500 stations from all around the country. So on the mornings you’re missing your Mom’s pancakes or your Dad singing along to Ariana Grande, just find your local station. You’ll find a slice of home.
8. Fruit Ninja
I started to research this article and then proceeded to lose two hours of my life to Fruit Ninja. The moral of this story is to proceed with caution. I still think it’s OK to have one addicting app on your phone. This is my app of choice. It’s mindless. Slicing fruit and avoiding bombs is the perfect break from homework, or from the three-hour lecture that has no end in sight. Just be sure to keep the phone hidden, or be prepared to come up with a great excuse to give your professor about why Fruit Ninja took priority over Intro to Psych 101.
Money is kind of the worst. I mean, it’s the best, but it’s the worst. College makes you think about money in ways you never have before. It’s a good thing, but there are hard lessons to be learned. Budgeting is important. Mint allows for you to see how you spend your money. It might make you say no to another meal at Chik-fil-A, but that’s probably for the best. The pie-chart feature can be pretty horrifying. Once you see how big of a slice is dedicated to online shopping, you’ll think twice before purchasing. Sometimes the best budget is awareness. Just try to know how much you’re spending and on what. Mint helps with that. That knowledge will shape your future choices.
I love the YouVersion Bible app. We don’t always have a Bible handy, though we probably should. The Bible app solves that problem. It gives you access to different translations. It even reads the Bible aloud to you, if you’re looking for something to listen to in the car. There are devotions according to different issues and situations, reading plans and daily verses. Plus, when you’re flipping through the apps on your phone, it’s a reminder that you might want to spend more time in the Word than slicing fruit. Keeping the faith, even during the chaos of college life, is a whole lot easier with the Bible in your back pocket.