Smart phone home screen with weather icon on focus. Installed mobile applications listed on the screen.Recently, I interviewed a friend who runs development for a forthcoming iOS/Android app about what the company was doing and what it was like to build an app. When he said that everyday his team asks themselves “how will we make someone’s life easier today” I was a bit taken back. I think he summed up my opinion on technology perfectly. I feel technology should solve a problem and make life easier.

When there were only 10,000 apps in the app stores you were limited in options, but now there are millions of apps and everyone will have their favorite. In an attempt to limit the debate about the best apps, I’m presenting five categories of apps with some suggestions on apps in each category. Each is focused on technology that will help you do your best in school, and it does not matter if this is your first year of high school or last year of college.

NOTES

Let’s get started with note-taking apps. I’ve noticed that learning to take notes is one of the hardest skills for my kids to learn. I never really learned that skill so I rely heavily on these apps. My tried-and-true recommendation is Evernote. It’s been around a long time and is very useful. You can modify the system however you like, if that’s a notebook for each class or one per year and use tags to link between classes. You can even upload and search text within PDFs as well as documents and images.

Google Keep is another good app, its biggest selling point is the connection to Google Classroom and Workspace. With so many schools using those tools it’s nice to connect directly.

My newest interest is Notion. It has a steep learning curve in my opinion, but once I got used to it, I loved it. If any app kicks Evernote off my phone it will be Notion.

COURSEWORK

When it comes to solving a problem, coursework apps are the biggest difference makers. I’m sure at this point you are already engrained in some tool. My opinion does not matter here, you have to use the one your school uses and try to get the most out of it. Look for apps that work with your coursework system. Google Classroom is easily the most connectable, Blackboard Learn is also really popular. Canvas is one to keep an eye out for.

TIME MANAGEMENT

If you have not figured out how to manage your time yet, I fear it’s lurking over your schedule. Opportunities missed due to being late are sad to see, like students who missed a scholarship because of a late application or failed a class because of too many late assignments. I had a professor in college who locked the doors two minutes before class started. “if you are on-time you are late” he would say. For me, Asana is my favorite task manager. It connects well with IFTTT and Automate.io so you can overpower it. Todoist would be my next choice but Things3 is a close third. They all do similar things but Things3 is app-only.

SCHOLARSHIPS

It seems like free scholarship search sites are falling by the wayside. If you can find a free scholarship database *cough ScholarshipQuest *cough then you need to take advantage of it. When you max out your options there, I would turn to Scholly. Going Merry is another decent option. I just downloaded ScholarshipOwl and like the app but the database is very limited.

BUDGET

Money, money, money!!! It always amazes me how many students can budget their way to an education. It’s important to know exactly, to the penny, how much you need to earn each month to meet your expenses. Focus on SAVINGS with any extra income! Even now I rely heavily on budget apps, for the longest time that app has been Mint. YNAB would be my next choice just because it is forcing every dollar to be earmarked for something and that helps people stick to it. I know GoodBudget is very popular with my friends. I never got behind the envelope concept so it was never an app I invested time in.

There you go, some of my favorite apps that hopefully students and their families will find useful. If you have a favorite app and want to share, check us out on our social media and post a comment.