Top Apps for College

Thank you technology! You’ve helped make my first year of college a success. Though I’m overall inclined to stray away from there kitschy college blog posts, I think utilizing the technology we have available to us is really important (both during undergrad and in overall life). And since I’m always looking for useful MacBook/iPhone apps I figured I’d share my favorites with my readers:

ACADEMICS  

iStudiez Pro (Mac: $9.99, iPhone: $2.99)

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Before my freshman year of college I’d always used a traditional notebook planner but when I found this app I made the switch to digital. I started out just using the mobile version but the Mac version is much more detailed and clearer. Additionally, it’s a lot more acceptable to add information to your planner in class if it’s on your computer rather than your phone. (For a while I was using both the iPhone and Mac app of iStudiez but the cloud sync became wonky so I deleted the mobile app).

iStudiezAs you can see, it’s perfect for repeating events (such as class or club meetings). The only con is for one time events (like my psych extra credit meeting) it has to sync to iCal. Still, I highly recommend it.

I especially like how it mimics what an actual planner looks like. And generally speaking, what I like about virtual planners over traditional ones is the ability to easily delete/edit assignments (which happens as the syllabus changes)

MindNode Lite (Mac: free)

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The best (affordable) concept web app I’ve ever had. I’m a visual person. Drawing and making webs is the easiest way for me to make sense of my papers, the readings, the lecture, etc. So this quickly became one of my favorite things. Unlike other concept web apps I used this one is easy to manipulate and edit. You have the autonomy to move the components around in an infinite white space, change the colors of the web branches, and select whatever font you’d like. While this doesn’t sound like anything special it’s surprisingly hard to find something this simple for such a low price.

Study (iPhone: free)

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I recently discovered this app via a TedTalk about the importance of acoustics: Julian Treasure: why architects need to use their ears.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a Chicagoan. Now that I’m home I’ve been regularly taking the L and when I’m on the train I like to get some reading or writing done.

I’ve been using this app in lieu of listening to instrumental music and it definitely lives us to its claim. It blocks out distracting background noise and helps me focus on what I’m working on. The only con is that the music is so relaxing that I could see it making me fall asleep (if I’m already tired); but a cup of coffee should easily offset that.

Apparently there is a mobile version as well but I’ve only used the mac one

SLEEP

Sleep Cycle (iPhone: $0.99)

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In college, a good sleep is hard to come by. However, I try to sleep as much as I can and I take naps to suppliment what I miss over night. This app track your sleep quality and is the best alarm clock I’ve ever had. You simply keep it charging at night and put it face down near your pillow. The smart alarm will begin gently waking you up 30mins from your actual wake up time. This is very subtle, I rarely recall even turning off the smart alarm: which is snoozed by knocking or tapping the iPhone. This prevents you from having to immediately wake up in the middle of your sleep cycle (and thus feel groggy).

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Additionally, Sleep Cycle keeps other data such as how things you do during the day (ex. drinking coffee, working out, eating late) affect your sleep quality.  

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This feature is customizable so you can input your own activities (I’ve added reading before bed and drinking an energy drink to mine). Once you notice these trend this can help you modify your behavior to improve your overall sleep qualities (even if you can’t get more hours in).

Bedtime ($0.99)

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This app tells you when to wake up (based on your bedtime). Or when to go to bed (based on your wake up time). Simple, straightforward, and practical. I use this app during the week for my daily goal: if I have to wake up at 7:30 I’d try to be in bed by midnight or 1:30. But since I can’t completely control how late I’ll be staying up to finish my homework, I mainly used it on the weekends because sleeping in too much leaves me feeling groggy and ruins my sleep schedule for the upcoming week.

If you don’t feel like buying the app the website: http://sleepyti.me/ does the exact same thing (and looks the same). I started out using the website but I got sick of having to load it before bed, especially because I would check it multiple times as the evening progressed.

Power Nap (iPhone: $0.99)

Power naps were, are, and always will be my number 1 survival tool.

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This app claims to “use advanced binaural brainwave entrainment to strimulate brainwave frequencies associated with different states of mind”: which basically means it relaxes you so you can get a good nap in. I’m skeptical on how advanced this app actually is but the ambient noise and “brainwave frequency” it plays are soothing and (more importantly) block out background noise. The con of this app is you need to wear earbuds which is a little annoying but still worth it in my opinion. I mainly use this app when I am taking a nap while my roommate is around. It makes napping a lot easier because it blocks out the sound of shuffling papers, etc.

This app also has a built in alarm which can be set for 10mins, 20mins, 30mins, and so on. But since the alarm sound is so tranquil I’d set a backup alarm just in case.

HEALTH

MyPlate (iPhone: Lite free, Pro: $2.99)

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Tracking your calories intake/calories burned is kind of a pain, but if you’re willing to do it this is the best app I’ve found for it. Simple interface and it has most food brands and meals already stored in the app: so you just have search and select a serving size rather than manually enter the calories.

It creates a calories goal based on your gender, height, and weight; as well as your personal goal of maintaining weight, losing weight, or gaining weight.

My favorite thing about this app is the nutritual breakdown of what you’ve consumed today: it always makes me want to eat better and get more protein in my diet and less sugary fats. Personally, I use this app because I’m thin and recently began working out: I want to make sure I am getting back the calories I burn but in a healthy way.

MapMyRun: (iPhone, free. Also available on android and blackberry)

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I use this on all my outdoor runs. The apps name says it all: it maps my run. This guarantees I run the precise amount of miles I want (it tells you at each mile your overall time and how many miles you’ve gone). Additionally, it includes your split pace for each mile, average pace, and calories burned.

Other nice aspects of the app (and website): you can input goals, create routes, earn badges, and add your friends (allowing them to see your stats and you to see their stats).

There is also a http://www.mapmyrun.com/ if that app isn’t an option for you.

What apps are you guys using to get through your undergrad years and beyond? Comment below!

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