High school and college are periods of ever-expanding responsibility for students. When you were younger you might have had mom and dad's help to get you up in the morning, tell you where you need to be when, check to make sure you did your homework, and help you budget your money. But now that's all on you! Luckily, there are apps to help you get organized. You can get help making a schedule and a budget, take better notes, organize a big project, and stay safe. Check out these apps to get a head-start on being on top of your life!
Office Lens (free; iOS, Android, Windows)
Office Lens is an amazing app from Microsoft that takes pictures of documents, whiteboards, blackboards, magazines, receipts, and more and converts them into editable, shareable text. It will even let you take pictures at an angle (say, if you’re seated all the way on the side in a classroom), and it will clean up glare and shadows, too. You can save your images as PDFs, Word, or PowerPoint files.
Circle of 6 U (free, Android, iOS)
When you're on a college campus, walking home late at night can be scary, especially if your school has a history of predatory behavior. So, make sure to download Circle of 6 U, which helps you feel more secure. Not only does it help you find your exact location (campus maps are built into the app), but it streamlines communicating with your trusted friends. Once you build a network of trusted contacts in the app, Circle of 6 U lets you send a pre-formatted group message, with your location, to all of them, in two taps. Winner of the 2011 White House and HHS “Apps Against Abuse” Technology Challenge.
MoviePass (Android, iOS)
Movie tickets have been getting more and more expensive, and they're pricing out students (whose part-time jobs are low-paying at best) as much as anyone else. That's why we're guessing that pupils everywhere will love to take advantage of MoviePass' 1-movie-per-day subscription plan, which costs only $9.99 per month. The plan will appeal most to impulsive students, as you need to buy tickets on the day of the showing.
Sleep Cycle alarm clock (free; iOS, Android)
Getting enough sleep is essential to getting a good education, but waking up rested isn’t just about how much you sleep; it’s about where you are in your sleep cycle when you wake up. Sleep Cycle uses your phone’s microphone and/or accelerometer to analyze your sleeping patterns and wake you up at the best time, when you’re in your lightest sleep state (within a window that you set, so that you’re not late). There’s also a premium version with features like heart rate tracking, Philips Hue integration, and snore detection.
Dragon Dictation (free; iOS)
Typing can take a toll on your wrists, even causing permanent damage in some cases. Dictating homework and emails to the Dragon Dictation app can not only save your wrists, but save you time, too! You can send your dictations to a text, email, Twitter, Facebook, or paste it into any application using your phone’s clipboard. The included editor will suggest words, and the app will improve its accuracy over time as it gets to know your voice. It also works in many languages other than English.
Microsoft Office (free; iOS, Android, paid; Windows)
Microsoft has made accessing your Office documents on any device pretty easy. The free Microsoft Office mobile apps include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote. You can store your documents in the cloud and always have the most up-to-date version with you. Even if you created a document with a desktop version of Office, the mobile view will adapt it to your screen. Collaboration is easy too: just email an attachment or a link. There are additional features available to those who have an Office 365 subscription (free for students, by the way!), such as inserting WordArt or checking your speaker notes in PowerPoint while you present.
myHomework Student Planner (free; iOS, Android, Windows)
The best planner is the one you always have access to. The myHomework Student Planner is available on a wide variety of platforms so that you can stay organized wherever you are. You can keep track of your class schedule and homework, get reminders for upcoming tests, and sync it across all of your platforms. There’s also a premium version for $4.99 that takes away the ads, gives you more themes, lets you add file attachments, and integrates access to external calendars.
Wunderlist: To-Do List & Tasks (free; iOS, Android, Windows)
Whether you’re tackling a big school project, packing for college, or making a grocery list, a To-Do List app is essential. Wunderlist syncs instantly between all of your devices, including tablets and computers, so that you can always stay up to date on your progress. You can set due dates and reminders (including recurring ones), share lists if you’re collaborating with someone else, and easily save web pages and articles to read later. You can even make notes on list items so that you don’t forget any ideas, and hashtag list items for even more organization. There’s also a pro version ($4.99/month, $49.99/year) that gives you more file and collaboration options.
Tasker ($2.99; Android)
Control your Android phone like never before with Tasker, an app that lets you set up automation for hundreds of tasks based on different conditions. You can lock certain applications with a passcode (keep roommates away from your sensitive stuff!), automatically turn your phone’s ringer on and off based on where you are (no more accidental phone noises in class!), change your camera’s buttons, automatically record phone calls, put your phone on airplane mode at night with periodic checks for texts and voicemails, set up custom automated text messages and much much more!
Free Graphing Calculator (free; iOS, Android)
Since we’re all basically carrying tiny computers in our pockets, there’s really no reason to bother with a separate graphing calculator. The Free Graphing Calculator can do the things you’d expect from a scientific calculator, plus graph up to four equations at once, including implicit functions and parametric equations. It can also make a table from the values you’ve entered, and has a lot of functionality having to do with statistics.
Flashcards Deluxe ($3.99; iOS, Android)
Flashcards can be a very effective way to study, and Flashcards Deluxe makes creating them very easy. You can input information right into the app, or upload a spreadsheet or table from your computer. You can organize your flashcards into decks, folders, and categories, make cards with up to five sides, and even add pictures and sounds to cards. If you don’t want to make your own, there’s a shared library that you can search. The app can be set to automatically turn off cards that you get correct after a certain number of times so you can focus more on the ones you got wrong.
Mathway (free; iOS, Android)
Stuck on a math problem? Mathway might be able to help. Just type in the problem or take a picture of it and Mathway will give you the answer if it can. It covers many different kinds of math from Basic Math and Pre-Algebra all the way up to Calculus, Statistics, and Graphing. There is a premium version—and it’s rather expensive—but for the extra cost you’ll get step-by-step instructions on how to solve the problem, not just the answer.
CliffsNotes ($1.99 per title; iOS)
CliffsNotes are companion guides to popular works of literature that can help you understand characters and themes. They include plot summaries and analyses, quizzes, bookmarking, character maps, and audio summaries called CramCasts. Written by teachers and other education professionals, the CliffsNotes app can help students get a fuller understanding of a text.
circleof6 (free; iOS, Android)
Circleof6 is an innovative safety app that connects you to six of your most trusted friends (your “circle”) and helps you keep track of each other. If you’re feeling scared about a situation you’re in you can send a pre-programmed text to your circle with just two taps, and it will include your exact location. There are also customized versions for certain colleges. The app contains a wealth of information about healthy relationships, as well as resources and phone numbers for national hotlines. This could also be used by younger students to discreetly let their parents know that they’re in an uncomfortable situation and want to be picked up.
HabitHub (free; Android)
The way to make a habit out of something is to do it so many times in a row that it just becomes routine. HabitHub encourages you to keep at something by making virtual “chains” every time you complete a task. You can organize the tasks into categories, and customize each one according to how often you’re supposed to do it, and it’s incredibly flexible. For example, you can schedule a task for every day, multiple times a day, several times each week, at exact times each week, or every two hours. You can even set up rewards for when you reach certain goals! You can track up to five habits with the free version, or an unlimited number for a one-time cost of $4.99. The paid version will also get you some other extras, like customizable themes.
Goodbudget (free; iOS, Android)
Did your parents teach you how to budget your money by having you divide it up into envelopes? Goodbudget takes that idea digital by dividing your money into virtual “envelopes” for things like Groceries, Transportation, Entertainment, Gas, and whatever else you need to budget for. Leftover money can be rolled over into the next envelope or used for something else. The free version includes 10 regular envelopes and 10 annual envelopes, plus syncing across two devices. Or you can move to a premium subscription ($5/month, $45/year) for more envelopes, unlimited accounts, five devices, and a five-year transaction history.
CampusBooks (free; iOS, Android)
The CampusBooks app helps you get the lowest price when you’re buying or renting textbooks (either online or at a bookstore), and helps you get the highest price when you’re ready to sell! You can scan barcodes right into the app, and if you need a book right away, you’ll be shown the closest stores and libraries that have your book in stock. Not just for textbooks, CampusBooks will search other books for you as well.
Evernote (free; iOS, Android)
Evernote lets you take notes pretty much any way you want to. You can type text in, take a picture, make checklists, record audio or video, take a screenshot, or write notes by hand onto the screen. Sync the notes across your devices and search within them (even handwriting!). Keep all of your class notes organized and accessible. Evernote Plus ($3.99/month, $34.99/year) gives you 1GB of new uploads each month, unlimited devices, offline access and email storage.
Offtime ($2.99; iOS, Android)
There are so many distractions out there keeping you from studying, and many of them are on your phone. But with so many useful study apps, it isn’t as easy as just turning off your device. Instead, you can keep yourself from accessing distracting apps with Offtime. Block calls and texts (with chosen exceptions), social networks, games, apps, and browsers. See an activity log when you’re done, so that you don’t feel like you missed anything. Analyze your phone usage, set goals, and do better! Upgrade to the pro version ($2.99) and make multiple profiles for different situations, schedule offtimes, and sync with your calendar.
EasyBib (free; iOS, Android)
Creating bibliographies can be tedious, and nothing will make it fun, but EasyBib makes it easy. Scan a book’s barcode right into the app, or use the search function to find the text you want to cite. EasyBib has been around for more than ten years, and its citations are checked by librarians and teachers. You can switch instantly between more than 7,000 citation styles.
Simplemind (free; iOS, Android)
Have a big project to tackle? Can’t seem to get your thoughts in order? Simplemind is an app that lets you map out a project visually, so that you can figure out what you need to do. You can start from scratch or use an auto layout, and add notes to your maps. The Pro+ version ($5.99) gives you access to more auto layouts, sharing, printing, the ability to add links and media to maps, and more. Get those jumbled ideas out of your head and organized!
Merriam-Webster Dictionary (free; iOS, Android, Windows)
Having a good vocabulary is important, and so is spelling things correctly, whether you’re tweeting or doing your homework. Why mess around with random search results when you can go right to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary app? Build your vocabulary with fun quizzes, look up words by voice search, or learn a new word every day. There’s even an integrated thesaurus and audio pronunciations.
Back to School Guide
- The Best College Laptops for Every Major
- The Best 2-in-1 Laptop/Tablet Hybrids
- Which MacBook Should You Buy? MacBook vs. Air vs. Pro
- The Best Laptops and Chromebooks for Less Than $500
- 10 Best Back-to-School Laptop Backpacks
- The Best Laptop Bags, Backpacks, Cases and Luggage
- The Most Stylish Laptop Bags for Women
- Laptop Buying Tips for Students
- Laptop Mag's Back to School Guide
- The Best Free Software for Students