Apps every college student should download

Apps seem to rule our world these days. We can do just about anything we want with just the tap of our fingers on our phones and tablets. We can find out the weather, buy items on the internet, make deposits into our bank accounts and send messages instantly, all with the help of our mobile devices and apps.

Know what else apps can help you with? College.

While you’re trying to find your way around campus and get adjusted to the college life in your first few weeks, try checking out some of these free apps:


Out of all the apps you could download onto your phone, get Gmail. Gmail is essential to any college kids’ life, as University students’ accounts are connected with Google Apps. This will be the email that all school-related information will be sent to.

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Whether it’s an email from your professors, Illini-Alerts, group projects or financial aid services, all important information will be sent to your Illinois account. Having this app on your phone will make for immediate delivery of important messages without having to remember to log on to your email every time you open your laptop. You can even link multiple Gmail accounts within the app to switch between inboxes.

Maps or Google Maps

Lost during your first week of classes, but too embarrassed to pull out a map or ask someone for directions? Use one of these apps. The app “Maps” comes on every iPhone, and Google Maps can be downloaded onto any iPhone or Android. Just use the map on one of these apps to figure out where you are, and where you need to be. This way you can just pretend to text your friends while figuring out where the heck you’re going.

Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.

Illini Bus

The Illini Bus app has made my life so much easier in the past two years of being on campus. This app will take your location and tell you what CUMTD buses are running near your location. You can then find out what stop to catch the bus at and how many minutes you have until it arrives. According to the Illini Bus app’s description the app has features such as:

— “Nearby” gives you the information you most likely need at the moment, right away

— “Maps” lets you search for stops and even campus buildings

— “Trip Planner” can summarize your travel time, number of buses you are taking and walking distance to simplify your decision

— “Track” lets you see the route of your bus and see how far the bus is away from you

— “Favorite” can be stored from anywhere in the app and remove by swiping in the favorite page

This way you can ride the CUMTD buses in confidence, knowing when and where the bus comes, your route of travel and when and where you should arrive, but if your phone’s app store doesn’t have Illini Bus, don’t fear. There are a slew of other apps very similar to Illini Bus, like Catch MTD for the Windows Phone.

UI Dining

UI Dining is a great app for anyone living in the dorms to have. This app lets you see the menu of every dining hall on campus every day of the week. Not sure if you should go eat in the dining hall or order Jimmy Johns? Take a quick peek at the menu at your dining hall for that day on this app. This way you don’t have to waste your meals by swiping into the dining hall and see that all the food for that day looks like something not even your dog would eat.

Blackboard Mobile Learn

One of the first things you’ll learn to use on campus during your first days of class is Compass. Compass is where most of your assignments and grades will be posted by your professors. If you don’t keep up with looking at Compass, you’ll probably miss a large amount of your assignments that are due. Make it easier for yourself and download the Blackboard Mobile Learn app so you can see assignments, due dates and grades without having to pull out your laptop.

Yik Yak

Ah, my personal favorite. According to the Yik Yak website, Yik Yak is an app that “serves as a local bulletin board for a user’s area by showing the most recent posts from other users around them, without having to know who posted the message.”

That’s right — everything posted on this app is anonymous… and probably not true. But it’s a great way to find out what bar, party or event everyone is at. It’s also a good source to see what weird things are happening on campus, and send a message that can spread to the entire University without having to gain followers.

Warning: Do NOT take anyone’s advice on Yik Yak about what fraternity or sorority houses on campus are “top house.” Take this from someone who is affiliated with Greek life.


If you’re looking for a dentist, mechanic or want to find good restaurants on or near campus, download the Yelp app. You can read and write reviews about local businesses to help you figure out the Chambana area.

Christine is a sophomore in Media. She can be reached at [email protected].