15 Best Apps For College Students That Improve Productivity and Collaboration
College students need all the time they can get. Between lectures, labs, study sessions, internships, part-time or even full-time jobs—not to mention the social activities, there’s not much room to spare. While you might not be able to create more time in the day, you can at least empower yourself with the right tools to use your time efficiently.
We’ve created a list of productivity apps, software, and tools to optimize your college workflow. From the best note-taking apps, group communication tools, and cloud file storage, this list might spark an “aha!” moment to double-down on new habits for your next class.
- Note-taking apps
- Project management apps
- Group communication apps
- Cloud file storage apps
- Slideshow presentation apps
The modern college student knows the value of taking notes electronically because, well typing is pretty darn efficient these days. And it’s much easier to search your notes with a computer than it is skimming through a notebook with chicken scratch. Here are some great note-taking apps to use during lectures.
While Google Docs is essentially a word processor in the cloud, Evernote was specifically designed for taking and organizing notes. It’s really easy to create separate “notebooks” for each of your classes and divide up your semesters into “stacks” each year.
There is also a mobile for Evernote which makes accessing, collaborating, and reviewing notes on the go very accessible and easy.
Rev offers automated transcription and human transcriptionist services to turn your audio recordings into text. The mobile voice recorder app turns your cell phone into a professional audio recording device, without being a distraction in the classroom. With your professor’s permission, you can record lectures and turn your audio files into searchable text documents. So, if you miss anything in your hand-written or hand-typed notes during class, you’ll find what you need in the transcript.
If you’re on a budget, you can order $0.10 per minute AI transcription or $1 human transcription if you need the best accuracy or if the lecture covers difficult topics or vocabulary. Once you have the transcript, you can edit and store the files in Rev or download and open in Google Docs!
3. Google Docs
You’ve probably already got a Gmail account, but did you realize all the great productivity tools that come with it? Google Docs is the industry standard for cloud word processing. It’s clean, intuitive, and is accessible from any computer or mobile device. Even if you don’t have an internet connection, you can make editable documents available offline.
Google Docs is essentially a word processor in the cloud. While great for note-taking, it can also be a fantastic place to write your term papers, reports, case studies, and collaborate on group projects. You can easily print-out or download your papers in Microsoft Word format for easy and compatible delivery to most professors online. And there’s no need to worry about losing your work, as Google is in almost a near-constant state of autosaving.
If you’re a list-maker who enjoys managing tasks and checking off their to-do’s then you might consider going to the cloud as well. Not only can you manage your own tasks, but many online tools make project management and team collaboration much easier than ever before. This is a game-changer for group productivity, especially if you’re taking online courses or can’t fit in-person meetings into your schedule.
If you’re looking for a clean, intuitive platform to manage projects and tasks, Asana is the way to go. Used by marketing, design, and other business teams around the world, it’s a great tool to learn how to organize your weekly workflow.
Built by a former co-founder and employee of Facebook, the app was designed to improve the productivity of one of the biggest companies in the world. Even if you’re not so much a list-person, you can use Asana to create kanban boards, calendars, and project timelines to measure the progress of what you’re working on.
If you’re in to writing sticky notes and placing them all over your desk to keep track of things, you should definitely consider Trello. The platform is primarily focused around the kanban workflow where you can move cards around into different lists. This can be useful to track the progress stages of certain tasks or projects; moving the cards from a “To-Do” list to “In Progress” and finally in “Done.” There is something oddly satisfying about being able to drag and drop the cards as if they were sticky notes on a whiteboard.
If your university uses Canvas, Blackboard, or an equivalent course management software, chances are it has a calendar feature that displays your upcoming dues dates, quizzes and tests, and other important reminders. It’s not always easy to keep tabs on that and your personal or work calendar.
Usually, these platforms will provide integrations to your calendar apps like Google Calendar or iCal. Or, it could be as simple as subscribing to a calendar link. Either way, consolidating your school due dates to the same calendar for your everyday life will help you plan out the most productive week possible.
With limited time before and after each class, connecting with your classmates for group projects or study sessions can be difficult. And you don’t want to be a part of some big email or text chain, fearing random notifications and messages will wake you up during the few hours of sleep you’ve allotted yourself. For your next group, consider one of these apps to make your communication more productive:
7. Google Hangouts
While a group facetime call or Skype call could suffice, everyone might not have the right device. But everyone’s probably got a Gmail account. Google Hangouts allows you to start group chats that are accessible straight from your email inbox. Plus, you can even start a video conference call where you can see each other’s tired faces and share screens on things you’ve been working on.
Again, the nightmare of a group text with relatively new colleagues can easily frustrate a team member when one or twenty too many GIFs have been sent while trying to just make a quick decision. First off, don’t be that guy. Second, use an app like GroupMe which allows you to essentially have a group text in the comfort of a mobile app. It’s easy to set up with your smartphone and makes quick communication amongst your group much easier.
If you’ve ever interned for a large company or business, chances are you’ve used or seen Slack in action. It’s essentially the IM of the corporate world, but it’s so much more powerful than a simple chatting app. With integrations to Google Drive, you can quickly send Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and other files to your classmates with ease.
Plus, Slack has their own video conferencing tools which make it an all-in-one communication tool that helps reduce conversational clutter from your email inbox.
It’s not always easy to keep track of all your files, downloads, and different versions of documents on your devices. By saving your important docs in the cloud, you can access them from anywhere and know that you’ve got the most recent draft, ready to continue where you left off.
10. Google Drive
In case you haven’t noticed, Google has created a fantastic assortment of productivity tools. Being familiar with Google Drive and all its associated apps will not only help you be more effective in your schooling but will also give you a leg up once you join the workforce.
Google Drive makes it simple to store and share docs, photos, videos, audio recordings, and more—and easily accessible from any device.
If you’re conducting any interviews, doing academic research, leading a focus group session, or just recording the audio of your college lectures, Rev will save you time and money by converting your audio and video files to text for you. Don’t waste hours laboring over the computer listening over and over to get every word typed from your recording.
Whether you go with automated transcription powered by AI speech recognition, or human-powered transcribing, Rev will deliver you a document that you can tweak in the transcript editor. Plus, you can invite your team members to view and edit the doc. Talk about some major potential for productivity!
If you’re looking for a more simple contender in cloud storage and file sharing, Dropbox is a great option. The app makes it especially easy to give access to files without them having to sign up or sign-in for anything.
Although it’s not linked with an email platform, Dropbox does offer some internal word processing features with Paper, where you can also plan and coordinate projects, organize notes and meeting minutes, and even create key resources like a team wiki.
While PowerPoint may be engraved as the go-to for presentations, there are many other apps out there that make it easy to create and share your decks.
13. Google Slides
The Google equivalent of PowerPoint takes all the things you need and takes out all the things you really don’t. Plus, it works nicely with other documents and files in your Google Drive for easy access to photos, graphics, text, and spreadsheets.
Slideshows are solid, but Prezi unlocks a whole new way to approach displaying your research and information in an engaging way. Prezi gives you beautiful templates and interactive animations that make your presentation feel more like a performance. Their site even boasts that their presentation style is about 25% more effective than traditional PowerPoints. We’d highly recommend this platform for Professors, too!
While you could use something like Google Slides to create flashcards, Quizlet offers an intuitive platform for creating resources for studying and memorization. Chances are, there might already be a deck on there for your upcoming mid-term. If not, it’s the perfect place to create a lasting resource that will help you and other students around the globe!
Productivity Apps Enhance Student Learning
College students have so many tools, software, and apps available to enhance their learning and studying. Whether it’s taking notes with a voice recorder app or using an online team collaboration platform, students can use their time and resources more effectively to focus in on their core objectives. A good mix of technology and old-school study habits are a smart way to approach your learning process.