iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads abound on college campuses, and for good reason. iOS devices are great anyway, but for college students, there are myriad ways in which an iOS device can make life easier. When it comes to studying textbooks, taking notes in lecture, or even waking up to start the day—chances are there’s an app for that. There are far too many useful apps to count, but here I’d like to list just a few apps sure to help college students manage their busy lives.
Paper textbooks may still be king, but e-readers are increasingly creating a presence in college classrooms. Digital versions are not only cheaper, but more portable, making e-textbooks an attractive option for many students.
For iOS, there are a couple of dedicated textbook readers, as well as more traditional e-reader apps. On the iPad, Kno and Inkling are both dedicated textbook apps. They have slight differences (Kno allows textbook rentals, for example, while Inkling allows single-chapter purchases) but both offer rich digital textbook experiences, with embedded quizzes and integrated video and images in certain textbooks. Meanwhile, the Kindle and other ebook apps also offer some textbooks.
Starting college, or even just returning for another year, can be a pretty daunting process. Heck I’ve been there. It’s downright scary at times, trying to keep track of where the next class is, what time it is, even where to go for fun events like new clubs and sports groups. And how about if there’s a part time job to juggle in there too? Absolute chaos indeed.
While there’s always the option of struggling on by and hoping that nothing is forgotten thanks to a series of incredibly convoluted sticky notes (yes folks, that’s how I attempted to do it), a much better solution is that of College T.A, an app designed by college students for college students. So clearly they’re going to understand the time management issues that many young students suffer from.
College T.A covers pretty much everything any student could need. Users can quickly add or delete assignments, add them to a To Do list for that day, select the type of assignment for a specific course as well as create alerts. Course details can also be set up with the course name, location, start and end dates and times as well as other reminders, all to make it easy to know what’s going on with each class. Professor details can be stored similarly easily with office numbers and office hours also possible to add here, all for convenient consultation.
For the student who doesn’t just study, organization details can be added as well as any events that need to be tracked. There’s also a section for adding details about the student’s job too.
Essentially College T.A is a potential lifesaver, ensuring that its users will never feel confused or lose track of their busy lives again. It even synchs up to iCal for the ultimate convenience.
It’s out now and it’s currently free to download, making it an utter bargain.
Though my days as a student are long in the past, I can still remember that panic stricken feeling that I would get in my gut near the end of each semester, when I learned whether my slacking had finally gotten the best of me. Fortunately for me, my neglect never came back to roost, but there were plenty of hours spent hunkered over a calculator, as I figured out what was the worst possible score that I could get on my final exam and still pass.
What I would have given back then to have an iPhone equipped with the free tool Grades 2. If I had this app in my arsenal, all those hours spent determining how much I could get away with slacking would have been better spent doing that college students do best: absolutely nothing! For a more detailed breakdown of how Grades 2 works take a look at the handy walkthrough video below.
Tuition Tab strikes me as an app that might have begun as a joke—and ended up as something that could possibly force truant professors to change their habits. Developed by college student Logan Moore, Tuition Tab keeps track of how late your professor is for class each day, as well as when classes are outright cancelled. Moore remarks that he was frustrated by paying for classes, only to have them cancelled:
I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t mind when class is canceled but I also would like a reimbursement for something I paid for but didn’t get. Tuition Tab allows you to enter your Tuition information and it then gives you a running total of how late your professor is and how much of your tuition they have wasted. There is also the “Class was Canceled” button.
Oh, and the funniest part? At the end of the semester, you can generate an invoice to send to your professor and university requesting reimbursement for your “lost” tuition.
I feel obligated to point out that tuition is based on far more than how many hours you sit in a classroom—you’re paying for all manner of resources and services that your university lets students use for “free.” And professors are allowed sick days too, right? Still, Tuition Tab is an ironically amusing app that just might get you some results. I doubt that your university will refund you, but as Moore points out: fifty emails complaining about the instructor’s attendance are good incentive for them to change their habits.
If you’re a senior in high school, April is more or less college visit month. I’ve got less than three weeks to pick my home for the next four years—yikes!—and as such, I’m spending just about every weekend in April on a college trip. This week? I’m at MIT’s Campus Preview Weekend. It’s a crazy thing. The entire campus turns out with tons and tons of events; there are (optional!) events until 5:00am. (The last one that I can see is a Vermonster Challenge.) And that’s just the stuff on the official schedule. I’d be lying if I claimed it wasn’t overwhelming. The Boston / Cambridge area is a lot bigger than what I’m used to, MIT’s campus is huge, and the events are scattered everywhere. Some even require you to take a shuttle!
Which is why I’m so incredibly grateful for MIT’s two iPhone apps: one for regular students, and one made specially for Campus Preview Weekend. The CPW app shows the entire schedule, and allows you to mark certain events as “Favorites” (I’m planning on going to the a capella show, for example). I’ll probably lose my official schedule soon; I doubt I’ll lose my iPod. I hope not, anyway. At any rate, it’s nice to be able to keep my schedule in my pocket vs. in my bookbag. Pockets are a lot easier to reach.
As for the main MIT app, it’s also a godsend. The entire campus is covered in WiFi, which makes the MIT app’s map feature amazing. It’s not great at pinpointing my location based on just WiFi, but the search feature alone makes the map awesome. Type in the name of a group or building—say, “Hillel”—and the app finds it for you. It also includes a Shuttle pane, with real-time bus tracking to help you catch a shuttle. Given the fact that I’m walking around an unfamiliar campus at night, this is pretty useful.
Kudos to MIT for releasing such a great pair of apps. It’s just one more example of how the iPhone’s potential is really a matter of what app developers make of it. I never expected to have such information available to me on my iPod, but now that I’ve got the apps, it seems like common sense, and I’ll be using both apps often over the next three days. I might still be overwhelmed, but at least I won’t get lost!
More organizations should really take advantage of the iPhone with things like this. What about you guys? Do you have any similar examples of the iPhone’s awesome power in daily life?
This week, historically, is the most important week of the year for the college basketball fan. It all starts with Selection Sunday when the field of 64 (or 65 as it is now) is announced. Then, college basketball fans worldwide struggle for the next 3.5 days to fill out their brackets. And finally, Thursday comes around and the first game tips off. From there it’s 4 straight days of basketball nirvana.
Here’s a quick round-up of some apps that can help you enjoy this week. Some to fill out your brackets with, and one to even help you catch the games when away from a TV.
CBS Sports NCAA® March Madness on Demand® is back for the second year. This app is on the high end price wise for an app, but it has one really special feature. Along with sports scores, news, and full bracket coverage, this app lets you stream video of every single NCAA Tournament game. That’s right every single one of the games, even over 3G and Edge. There’s also audio-only coverage if you prefer that. Last year the app worked really well for me. Great if you can’t get away from work to watch a game, you can just sneak into the bathroom and watch it there. I’m not too proud admit that I’ve had to do that once or twice…