I grew up with the internet, so using online resources to help me in school is nothing new. Over the years, I’ve found plenty of websites, apps, and plug-ins that have made a huge difference in my productivity and life balance. Today, I’m recommending eight of my favorites – and two that I don’t recommend.
Before we get started, I’ve made an updated and expanded list of the best websites and apps for college students, and it’s available in printable, clickable PDF format in my free resource library for email subscribers. It has includes all the sites below and tons more! If you’re not a subscriber yet, you can sign up for my mailing list here to get the password to my resource library!
Some of the best websites for college students:
I’ve been using the Mint app for a few months and it’s completely opened my eyes to my spending and saving habits. After making my first college budget a few months ago, I downloaded this app (which also has a website), and it has made it so much easier to track my spending. I get to set budgets for different areas of my life (for example: groceries, cafés, travel), and I get a little alert if I’m too close to hitting my limit. This app is definitely worth it.
One of the weakest parts of any class presentation is usually the PowerPoint. Most people don’t know how to use PowerPoint to its full effect, which is why the website Prezi is so helpful. Prezi lets you put together beautiful and sleek presentations for class or work projects. I’ve used this for a few class presentations and always got a great response from the professor.
SelfControl is actually an app that allows you to add websites to a “black list” and block them for a certain length of time (no matter what browser or even profile you use). This is great for study sessions or taking class notes on a laptop, when it’s easy to get distracted by the Internet. Best of all, it’s free.
You’ve heard me talk about Amazon Student before in my post about my favorite college school supplies. I love Amazon Student because Amazon often has the best deals on textbooks, school supplies, and things I need for my dorm. Their student program has free two-day shipping, music, and video that have probably saved me over a hundred dollars in four years. (Bonus: if you sign up through my referral link, you get five dollars to put towards anything on the site. I get a small kick-back, too, so if you sign up through this link, thanks for your support!)
Google Scholar is great if you’re looking for reputable articles and cases that you can access online. You can read articles, build libraries, and set up alerts. Not sure how? Check out this useful article.
I love Cram because it allows me to create, use, and search for flashcards that I need when studying. Cram also has a great free app that lets you practice your flashcards and repeat the ones you get wrong, as well as quiz yourself. Check out Cram here.
iStudiez Pro is a paid app that you can use to schedule classes, keep track of assignments, and log grades. I’ve only just started using it, but I have friends who swear by it and find it incredibly helpful. So far, I’m really impressed by the interface and usability – I’m planning on writing a full review of it soon. You can learn more about iStudiez Pro here.
Pomodoro is a time-management technique that comes with websites and apps designed by different people. I’ve written about it before: the idea is that you work for 25 minutes, followed by a five minute break. This unit is called a “pomodoro,” and after four pomodoros, you get a 15 minute break. It’s really helpful during crunch time if you haven’t yet figured out your perfect schedule.
…And some of the worst
These are websites I really don’t think you should be using. They claim to make your life easier, but will only hurt you in the long-term. Rather than calling out specific websites (or sending them traffic), I’m going to refer to them by category. Here are some of the worst websites for college students:
“Write My Essay” Websites
These websites will claim to have a professional write a paper for you in a few hours or days — for a hefty price. I think these are a huge waste of time and money for three reasons. First, the person writing your paper is invariably not as intelligent or well-educated as you are on your paper topic, because they didn’t go to your classes for you. Second, you are in college to learn and grow as a student; you’re wasting your money (or your parents’ money, or the school’s money) if you’re just going to phone it in and cheat. Finally, and most importantly, using a website like this is committing academic fraud — you risk your honor, integrity, class grade, and even expulsion from your university. Not worth it.
“Do My Bibliography” Websites
Websites like these actually provide a valuable service — if you’re in middle school and you’ve never learned to format a bibliography. All you have to do is paste a few links or search terms, and they’ll format a free bibliography for you in one or two free styles (usually MLA; usually the website will charge for Chicago, APA, and others). The problem? These bibliographies are usually riddled with errors, and you’re losing out on a valuable skill by not just learning to do it yourself. Invest in a citation guide like the Bluebook and learn to do it yourself. You’ll save time in the long run.