5 Apps to Make Your College Career a Little Easier

As a college student, you probably own some electronic device. Or two. Or three.

You may even have gotten into a debate at the dinner table over Apple versus Microsoft.

And you’ve probably been tempted to throw your roommate’s phone out of the window after its thirteenth snooze alarm at 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday (even though your roommate doesn’t leave until 8:59).

We interact with technology every day, and either we use it for good or to our detriment. We’re bombarded almost daily with the pros and cons of technology.

Screen time messes with our sleep. Social media squanders our time. Memes mesmerize us. But for engineers, accountants, secretaries, programmers, graphic designers, and dozens more—technology is a career and even a ministry.

As students, we have to balance the pros and the cons of technology in our lives. One way is by using our technologies to advance our studies—rather than hinder them.

Over the last few years, I’ve discovered five apps that have helped me and others in our college careers. You might have heard of them. You may even use them already. Even if you’re an avid user, keep reading and you may discover new uses for these apps.

1.) Quizlet

It’s quite popular, for a good reason. Quizlet, basically a digital notecard database, is available on multiple platforms—most importantly, on mobile devices! So you can always sneak in a few extra minutes of study during downtime (waiting for the elevator, in between classes, etc.).

You can also find many pre-made sets of notecards from other PCC students. I’ve rarely had to make my own set.

You can also be creative with how you use Quizlet. I know one person who struggled with memorizing verses for his Bible classes until he started making notecards for them on Quizlet. He memorizes his verses by playing the Quizlet game in which he has to type his verse as quickly as possible with no errors. If he makes an error, the game will reveal it at the end. He plays this game over and over until he can write his verse perfectly. Now, he receives perfect scores on his verse quizzes! It’s just one of many brilliant ways to use Quizlet.

2.) Pinterest

“Wait . . . Pinterest? A useful app?”

You’re probably thinking that Pinterest is a time-waster like social media. And it can be. But Pinterest can also be a productivity app. In the art department, we graphic designers and studio artists use Pinterest in most of our projects. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration.

You don’t have to be an artist to benefit from a photo-based app like Pinterest. As an education major, I’ve used Pinterest to catalog teaching and classroom ideas for both of my teaching fields.

English major? Professional writing? Pinterest has writing prompts, word lists, and all sorts of resources for writers.

Pinterest also has a host of infographics on all sorts of subjects—skim through a few, and you might find a topic idea for your next paper!

The verdict: though notoriously addictive, Pinterest can be beneficial to your studies.

3.) Olive Tree

Sophisticated and multifunctional, Olive Tree is the perfect Bible app for students. The app’s libraries have dozens of free translations and commentaries available for download, and more that can be purchased. I use four Bibles in English, French, and Hungarian, plus a concise version of Matthew Henry’s commentaries—all of them were free!

Besides having a huge free library, Olive Tree has several practical features. One of its best features is its split-screen. With the split-screen, I can either compare text between two Bibles in different languages (or a Bible and a commentary) or have a Bible on one side and notes on the other. It’s so practical!

Another feature is its cataloging system. Notes can be tagged by category and organized into folders—and their icons can be changed so that they can be distinguished from each other throughout the text. A note can be attached to anything—words, whole verses, and even chapters. So when a chapter starts to get note-heavy (like Romans!) I like to distinguish between my sermon notes and my personal notes by just changing the icons.

Other features like the search bar and highlighting aren’t unique to Olive Tree, but I find that the app does a good job with them. Searching is easy, and highlighting—maybe TOO easy (Proverbs may or may not look like a rainbow...).

This app can be downloaded on multiple platforms—desktop, tablet, and phone—for free!

So if you don’t have a Bible app on your personal device yet, I highly recommend Olive Tree. It has everything you need, not only as a student of New Testament Survey or Teachings of Jesus but also as a student of God’s Word.

4.) Scrivener

I’m using this app right now, as I write. Scrivener is a digital binder with one goal in mind: ORGANIZATION.

It’s a little expensive as a desktop app but definitely more elaborate. I use the mobile version on my iPad, which is cheaper. (Sadly, it’s not available for Android.)

Also doubling as a word processor, Scrivener is quite flexible and can be customized to suit any type of need.

Scrivener starts with a project—or projects! A project includes a binder, which can be expanded or reduced to have as many levels of divisions as needed, but essentially comprises regular folders, a research folder, and a trash bin. There’s no limit to how many folders can be created in the binder—nor how many folders can be created within folders. And there’s no limit to the files that each folder can contain.

A practical feature is the “corkboard,” which is basically made up of digital 3x5 cards. Each file you create in a folder has a “3x5 card” that you can type anything on, such a summary or brief note about the file.

Another great feature is the customizable meta-data. Files can be organized with notes, icons (which appear in the binder next to the file or folder name), colored labels, synopses, and statuses (e.g. “To-do,” “First draft,” “Final draft”).

Scrivener can be used as a digital binder for stories, papers, sermons, class notes, lesson plans, a business, or in-depth projects—whatever need you may have! And you don’t have to stick to one use; you can have multiple projects. In other words, you can have one project for class notes, another project for your lesson plans, and another one for your personal blog!

5.) Homework

This is the app that has helped me keep track of all my assignments for the last few years.

Homework is an assignment tracker—an upscale to-do list.

At the beginning of each semester, I copy all of my assignments from my course outlines into this app with every assignment’s due date and any notes. Each assignment is color-coded by class so that I can see at a glance what’s due for what class. All of the assignments appear chronologically in a list. When I complete an assignment, I just swipe the assignment away to mark it as completed.

Assignments can also be divided into sub-tasks that can be checked off when completed. Tags can be added, too, for clarity—especially if knowing that you have three quizzes, a painting, and a research paper due helps you prioritize.

I rely heavily on this app to keep me on track in my assignments. I can breathe a little easier by having all of my assignments on one list, rather than split up in a planner or multiple course outlines.

All of these apps, together, have benefited my college career.

If you’re not using these apps already, head to the App Store and download them! And if you are, share with us the creative ways you’ve used these apps to help your studies.

The thoughts and opinions expressed in Life in the Nest are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pensacola Christian College.
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