Plan every part of your academic life
College is hard enough, so any extra bit of help is welcome. Fortunately, the post-smartphone generation of students has many apps to help them avoid being overwhelmed. We’ve boiled them down to the most useful apps for college students to cover every aspect of your college life.
- Simple and intuitive design
- Can manage almost any process or project
- Team collaboration features
- (Free With Paid Tiers)
Trello has become a popular application for small businesses, remote teams, and freelance workers. It’s an aggressively simplified project management app that uses columns and cards arranged on a “board.” Each card can represent whatever you like, such as an assignment or a milestone within a project.
Trello also makes it easy to manage group tasks since you can assign each card or column to team members. You can link attachments, create checklists, set due dates, and more within each card. Trello is a productivity supercharger, and you’ll probably use it long after you graduate too.
- Revise up to AP level.
- Multiple topics, with exercises and feedback
Khan Academy is a study app aimed mainly at pre-college coursework, so why is it on a list of apps for college students? First, Khan Academy offers some college-level material to help high school students prepare for their college journey.
However, we recommend Khan Academy for college students who need to brush up on the foundational language and math skills they may have forgotten. College-level work assumes that you’re up to speed with everything you learned in high school, but most of us have forgotten quite a lot by the time we start college!
Best of all, Khan Academy has an excellent course mapping function, so you can simply target the areas where you’re a little rusty! The app is a better experience on an iPad or other large tablet; however, the website itself is also great. We recommend reserving the mobile phone experience for those moments when you have a few minutes to revise.
- Smart and effective language learning design
- Ads are excessive, but paid ad-free subscriptions are available
This one is for language-learning college students in particular, but anyone can do it with an extra language or two under the belt. If you’re enrolled for a degree that includes a language such as Spanish, French, German, Japanese, or any of the other major languages of business and academia, DuoLingo is for you.
The app helps you learn and practice grammar while also building your vocabulary. Language courses are laid out in intuitive, gamified paths, and it keeps track of how your memory of certain things might be fading, letting you practice them before you forget. DuoLingo also creates exercises based on the things you’re worst at in a given language, so you’re always building strength in your language mastery.
Using this app as a companion to your college language learning is a great way to get an A and become fluent!
- Multi-platform, multimedia note-taking
- The free tier is a little too limiting
Evernote is quite likely the best note-taking and mind-map app today, and it’s been going from strength to strength for years. You can take notes using your mobile devices, including taking photos of the blackboard and attaching voice notes. It’s all synced to your cloud account, where you can organize it in several different ways.
Evernote has built features into its app and platform that make it less necessary to use multiple apps. For example, there’s a document scanner feature built into Evernote, so you can make a scan from a photo and instantly tag it with all the metadata you need to look it up later.
Evernote also has a web clipper to collect research information quickly, and it lets you search the contents of handwriting in your notes. There’s more to it than we can list here, but suffice it to say that you’ll find just about every note-taking feature you need. The only downside is that the free plan is somewhat limited, so we suggest signing up for the Personal plan.
- Great basic features in the free version
- Sophisticated writing help for paying users who want to up their game
College students do a lot of writing, and you’ll always be judged (if noted, always graded) on the quality of your language use. If that language is English, then Grammarly is an indispensable tool. It integrates into applications such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs to let you see in real-time where your mistakes are and how you may fix them. Grammarly also offers its keyboards for Android and iOS so that you can check anything you type on those devices for embarrassing errors.
The free version of Grammarly is good enough to take care of the most glaring errors. Still, if you have the budget for the paid tier, it’s well worth it since it offers more sophisticated suggestions related to your writing’s fluency, clarity, and tone.
6. Mendeley for Web and Desktop Only
- Free With Optional Subscription
- The best reference management and citation tool out today
- Great free features, with paid features suited to professional academics on their employer’s tab
Mendeley is the best app for collecting research material and managing your references in academic papers. It takes all the pain out of referencing, no matter what referencing style your college or discipline requires.
You can also store and cloud-sync research papers, highlight important passages, and collaborate with others. In the end, when you tap a single button and your entirely formatted reference list appears at the end of your paper, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief and spend the time you’ve saved getting some much-needed sleep.
- Amazing collaboration tools
- Individual apps are very streamlined and basic
Google offers a comprehensive set of cloud-based tools, including a word processor, spreadsheet app, and presentation software. While they aren’t as packed with features compared to Microsoft Office or the Apple equivalents on Mac computers, you can use them on any device with a modern browser.
Even better, these cloud apps ensure you won’t lose your documents, and you can easily collaborate with other students or lecturers. Both the web apps and the mobile apps also allow for offline use.
- 15GB of free storage with optional upgrades
- Excellent integration with the Google Office Suite
The Google apps we just highlighted rely almost entirely on Google Drive to function, but Google Drive is worth highlighting as its independent app even if you don’t use the Google Suite. Google Drive is mainly a cloud storage app, and you’ll get around 15GB of free storage by just signing up. That’s more free space than competitors like DropBox.
If you already have a Gmail account, you already have Google Drive. Apart from storing your native Google suite files, you can upload any other type of file you like and then access or share it as you like. The Google Drive app also has a built-in document scanner function, which is a great way to quickly capture notes or the pages of books in the library.
- Substantial financial savings for textbooks
- A wealth of effective homework and study help
- Starting at $15 a month
Textbooks are one of the most expensive parts of studying, and when you have to choose between eating or buying textbooks, you’re probably not going hungry. Many students struggle with their grades because they don’t have access to required reading.
Chegg cuts down the cost of textbooks immensely. You can’t rent digital copies of your textbooks and only need to pay for the part of the assigned text. It beats paying hundreds of dollars for textbooks when you only need to read a fraction of their content!
Chegg also offers homework help, exam prep, and a host of other study assistance features. If Chegg has the textbooks you need, it’s an essential app in your arsenal.
- The perfect way to practice almost any subject
- Ads do eat into study time for free users
Quizlet is a popular flashcard tool that you can use to practice and learn a wide variety of subjects. This includes flashcard quizzes on languages, biology, chemistry, social studies, and so on. It is a free app but supported by advertising. By upgrading to the Quizlet Plus subscription, you can have an ad-free experience that pays for itself by maximizing your learning time without distraction.
- A safe and easy way to move money around with low or no fees
- Everyone is using Venmo, so finding participating stores and friends is easy
Venmo probably needs no introduction, but just in case you’ve been castaway on an island for a few years (welcome back, by the way), Venmo is a payment-sharing app that makes it easy to send money to friends and family. You can also use it to pay for things at many retailers in-store. So it’s an excellent way for parents to instantly send money to students or for students to split a bill.
- It’s smarter than you
- It knows more than you
- It’s here to help
- Free with Special Student Pricing for Pro subscription
WolframAlpha is a knowledge engine to ask complex mathematical and knowledge-based questions. Ask it anything about physics, astronomy, pure mathematics, life science, and more. You’ll get precise answers, and if there’s any math involved, you’ll also see how it was calculated.
- Massive library of music and podcasts
- Family plan is cheap
- Excellent interface and platform support
- The free tier sucks
Spotify is one of the most popular music streaming apps with an affordable family plan and plenty of podcasts to listen to. So whether you want to listen to some Lo-Fi or classical music while you’re studying or just want to catch up on educational podcasts, you can do it all in one place. Spotify already has some great study playlists, but you can easily make your jams for both mental and physical workouts in one place.
- Solid free shared calendar tool
- Integrates seamlessly with all your other Google apps
Google Calendar is the best free online calendar app, in our opinion. It’s integrated with all the other Google apps and works with various third-party apps. Creating shared calendars is easy, so you can ensure that your friends and family know when you’re studying or taking a break.
- Brilliant, intuitive holistic timer solution
- Time’s up!
The biggest key to success in college (or anywhere else) is effective time management, and Time Timer is one of the best visual timers to show you precisely the amount of time you have left for all your most important tasks. So you can always get a feel for what you should be doing at a glance.
- It’s Office, but for a low monthly fee
- You get tons of OneDrive storage
- $6 per month with possible student discounts
If all you need is a word processor or spreadsheet program, then Google Docs or an open-source option is just fine. However, your college professor and the college itself are likely to send you a Microsoft Office format document (e.g., PowerPoint, Word, or Excel) at some point. While third-party office software can usually read and edit these without issue, sometimes you need the MS suite to work with certain documents with complex formatting.
If all you need to do is read these documents, you can do it with the various Office mobile apps for free, but if you need to edit them, then a Microsoft 365 subscription is well worth the money. Especially the family plan, which also includes 1 TB of OneDrive storage for each of the (up to) six family members.
Your college might offer a free Microsoft 365 membership as part of your tuition, so be sure to check!
- Manage every aspect of your school or college life
My Study Life is aimed at students who aren’t in college yet, but it works just as well in a college context. This study planner system is popular for a reason, and that’s mainly because it lets you plan every part of your academic life, including classes, homework, assignments, and exams. The app is clean, simple to use, and it syncs across multiple platforms. Despite not being for college, it’s turned out to be one of the best college apps you can download.