Turn your phone into your own insanely helpful personal assistant with these apps

Erica Grasmick

The other morning, I was bored sick standing in line at Morgan’s Grind.

Standing in this line, I noticed something. Every single pair of eyes in this long line was glued to a screen, barely glancing up even when the line moved.

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Like standing in line, our phone screens have become just another mundane sight for us. Once a sight of intrigue for many, most of us now glance at the small device in our hands and take for granted all the content it allows us to access as we scroll through it.

I know we have all heard this before. Older generations, news channels and questionable “studies” are constantly telling us we are a generation that relies too heavily on technology—and maybe we do. But, maybe that is not always such a bad thing. Thanks to modern technology we have access to tools that help us get ahead, especially in school.

As reported by Pew Internet and American Life Project last year, 58 percent of American adults own a smartphone, 42 percent own a tablet and 32 percent own some type of e-reader.

Apps for Success is a workshop/information session provided by the CSU Institute of Learning and Technology, or TILT, and conducted by the Assistive Technology Resource Center as a way for students to learn about built-in tools and application software for their smartphones and tablets that can be used for academic success.

Shannon Lavey, Service Coordinator for ATRC, said, “We provide technology for students and employees, and education to faculty that helps them know how to provide things like PDFs and PowerPoints and how to post them correctly on Blackboard and Canvas, to the apps students use to access information.”

According to Lavey, the workshop tries to choose only the most useful apps.

“One of the purposes is of this workshop is to narrow down the thousands and thousands of apps out there,” she said. “Apps are great for visual learners and can be encouraging and motivating ways to study.”

With that in mind, here are some great apps you can use to get ahead in school and feel productive the next time someone criticizes you for staring at your phone:

For Writing

Inspiration: A mind-mapping program that can be used to brainstorm and easily create an outline for a paper. You can also add hyperlinks, pictures and audio to use as citations and sources.

Ginger Keyboard + Page: A perfect friend to have when writing your final paper, Ginger reads text aloud to you, allowing you to more easily catch mistakes, while also proofreading your spelling and grammar. One really cool thing about this app is that it will re-phrase sentences for you if it notices too much repetition in syntax.

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RefMe: Ever write a research paper last minute and struggle collecting and citing all your sources? This app can help you out. Just scan the bar code of a book, or copy and paste a URL into the app to create your bibliography in whatever style the professor prefers. The citations are synced to all of your devices, so you can access them from anywhere.

For Study Skills

Quizlet and Study Blue: Both these apps are based on the good ol’ flashcard method. However, the advantage app flashcards have is the access to a database from thousands of pre-made cards people before you have created to study. These apps also generate tests and games to learn the material in a fun way, while tracking your progress and learning what you need to focus on most.

For Time Management/Productivity

Clear: If you like visually appealing to-do lists, this app is for you. It color-codes all of your tasks into flowing lists and makes fun little noises when you swish away completed ones. You also have the ability to set reminders for each task and can sync it into your daily calendar.

iStudiez Pro: Set up like a school planner, this app syncs with both your Google and iOS calendars and allows you to set priority on certain projects and tasks.

Pomicro: This handy little timer supports the “Pomodoro” technique that proposes we retain information better when we study for 25 minutes with a five-minute break. Simply set the timer as you start to study, and it will alert you when it’s time for a little stretch break.

Collegian A&E Writer Erica Grasmick can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @E_Graz_.