It’s funny to think that even just 20 years ago, the only tools most college students had in class were their notebook and pen, while the more well-to-do students might have had a chunky typewriter to keep them company during a study session.

These days, however, you’d be hard pressed to find a student in your class who doesn’t own a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

A recent study carried out by Ball State University found that students are increasingly using smartphones in their daily lives. In 2009, just about 27% of students owned a smartphone, but in early 2012, that number was nearly 70%.

Thanks to this huge growth in mobile technology, there are now millions of apps in circulation, and a large percentage of these are designed for educational purposes.

Although I certainly can’t claim to know which out of the thousands of educational apps are the “best” for college students, I do have a few suggestions to make, and hopefully others will find them helpful as well.


College is a time when students are expected to work together with others and complete assignments and projects as a group rather than individually. This can be a difficult transition for students who are used to managing their own projects and deadlines.

Trello can help students divide the tasks evenly amongst themselves by assigning labels and filtering certain responsibilities to different people. It also allows students to work together in real time by sending out notifications to the entire group if any changes are made by one person.

Keeping track of the deadlines is also made easier with Trello, as each member of the group will be reminded when the project should be finished and work to complete their part on time.


Study sessions and last minute cramming before tests are all part of college life, and thanks to Quizlet, the whole study process has been simplified quite a bit.

It is designed as a study aid and provides users with more than 10 million sets of digital flashcards covering every subject imaginable from science to languages. If you don’t feel the subject you are cramming for is well represented by the existing flash cards, you can even make your own based on specific material that you know will be included in the test.

You can also take quizzes that are automatically graded, which will tell you how well prepared you are for your upcoming test or exam. The app can be used on any smartphone and the best part about it is that it can be downloaded for free.


Evernote is a college student’s best friend as it provides easy ways to document information in the classroom, either by taking notes, recording lectures, taking photos and storing important documents for later.

This free app can be synced between various devices, and ensures that no important information is easily forgotten. Any information that has been recorded, whether in audio, written or image form, can be turned into study questions with easily accessible answers.

Virt U: The Virtual University 

If you’re researching a particular subject and need some supplementary information, Virt U allows you to download lectures from top universities like Harvard, Berkeley, MIT or Stanford and view them from your mobile phone.

It’s a great way to get a well-rounded perspective on any subject that you feel hasn’t been covered enough in your current courses, and if you’re looking for some interaction with fellow students, the app also allows you to post lectures you find interesting on Facebook or join in a discussion on the Virt U forum.

The app is a great way to expand your vocabulary as it allows you to bookmark words you haven’t heard before or find interesting.

It’s a good tool to have on hand in the classroom or while working on a project or paper, and provides you with a dictionary and thesaurus with over two million words. Another useful feature is the speaker icon which allows you to have certain words read aloud so you can hear how they are pronounced.

The app is free and once you have downloaded it, you don’t even need an internet connection to use it.

Graphing Calculator

The Graphing Calculator was voted one of the top ten back-to-school iPhone applications by Time magazine, and it certainly lives up to its reputation. If you’re studying science, technology, math or engineering, you will need to have a good scientific calculator at your disposal.

Regular graphing calculators can cost anywhere between US$50 and 100, so the fact that this app can be purchased at just $2 dollars makes it extremely popular amongst college students. You can also take screenshots of any graphs you want to remember for later, and share them with others by email.  

Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges and InformED, one of Australia’s leading providers of distance education. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career.She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines.If you are interested in featuring her works in your blog, you can find her on Google+.