Putting “top” free apps for college students to the test

By Alexander Vassiliadis

Walking across a college campus, all you might see are students gazing down at their phones, paying no attention to where they are going. Some are texting, some are browsing and some are even scrolling through emails. This year, consumerreports.org gave students 19 reasons to be even more addicted to their phones with a list of the top free apps for college students. These apps claim that “your mobile device can boost your school survival skills,” and the Daily Illini decided to put some of them to a test.

myHomework Student Planner

4.5/5 stars

This one’s tricky.

This app is a very straightforward homework and class-tracking program. You can set homework assignments along with multiple reminders before the due date. Students can also keep track of upcoming exams for multiple classes and the interface is very user-friendly. Even if you don’t have that much luck with intricate applications, this app will not make your head spin. Yet, there are two things that make this app brilliant.

Number 1: It can sync across multiple devices including mobile device, laptop, Internet, tablet, etc. This means that if your phone doesn’t have a signal and you’re spending the weekend at some exotic cabin and by some miracle you brought your books to study, you can log in with a computer and check your class status.

Number 2: Professors that use teachers.io, which is an online application which allows teachers to share test and homework details for their classes with their students, can sync their material with myHomework for all students to easily access. Unfortunately, not many teachers use this program; therefore, all information pertaining to classes has to be entered manually by students.

IFTT (IF This Then That)

2/5 stars

This one is not for the lighthearted.

IFTT is an app that allows the user to make recipes. Recipes consist of a “trigger” and an “action.” The user can program different social media applications like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. to react to different actions made on other social media apps. For example, your “trigger” can be a Facebook status you made and your “action” can be a Twitter message that goes out with a link to that Facebook status.

Other than mass media accounts and people that are “Twitter” famous, I cannot see how this could be useful to a booze-guzzlin’ and hard-working college student. So other than the fact that it is kind of cool and the lingo is entertaining and makes the user feel smart, it is not very productive.

StudyBlue

5/5 stars

This one takes the cake.

Who would think someone could come up with a better version of Quizlet? Well, this is it. Super-easy, super-fun and super-captivating interface. Download the app, make an account, add your university and add a class because there’s a good chance you will find notes and flashcards for that class made by previous students or students currently enrolled.

You can view all the flashcards with all the information in a “total-view” mode or you can start a card-flipping session where you test yourself with different information. Overall, it’s a very entertaining app and probably the closest app-designers have gotten to making studying look cool.

Lose It!

3/5 stars

This one doesn’t take the cake! (Literally…)

We all know the Freshman 15. But we soon come to realize it’s the Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior 15. Lose It! is a very generic weight loss app. Just like all other weight-loss apps, it requires some sort of paid subscription in order to access more cool features of the app. The only thing you can do is track your changes, add the types of food you’ve eaten, assess how much you have exercised and understand the percentage of the type of nutrients that make up your diet.

Overall, it is not a bad application. And for a college student that desires glazed ranch wings at 2:30 a.m., anything that can help keep track of weight is good. But in the long run, the user might lose interest before losing pounds.

Alexander is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]