Best Apps for College Students

June 16, 2021 • 6 Min Read

Find Scholarships, Decorate Your Dorm & More

Smartphones are everywhere and can do nearly anything, especially on college campuses. In 2014, over 85% of college students had a smartphone and that percentage has likely grown. Fortunately, app development has kept pace and for almost every student need, there’s an app for that. Continue reading to learn about some of the best apps for college students in every category, from budgeting to dorm decorating to study help.

Budgeting & Money Management

College is a time for growing and building towards the future, but unfortunately it’s also a financially difficult time for many people. In fact, over one fifth of the US population has some form of education debt. While debt may be unavoidable for some students, new apps exist that can help lighten the financial burden, pay down student loans and even squirrel away money for the more fun parts of college life.

I used Tip Yourself to save up for a Nintendo Switch. Having the money in a separate account meant that I didn’t keep dipping into it for pizza night, and slowly saving up the money as rewards meant I didn’t even feel guilty for buying the Switch.Clarissa Stevens, Urban Studies University of Washington, Tacoma

ChangEd This app works to pay off your student loans by rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar and then depositing the “change” into a FDIC-insured account. Whenever the account reaches $100, it automatically makes a payment to your student loan.
Digit Digit analyzes your spending habits and determines how much money it can safely withdraw into a FDIC-insured savings account that can be accessed at any time. Use Digit to create a rainy-day fund or save money for a spring break getaway.
GoodBudget This envelope-styled app helps users budget by determining where every dollar earned goes. Overspending out of one “envelope” requires a withdrawal from another one so users always know how much money they have for food, rent and anything else they need to keep track of.
Paypal Mobile PayPal can do more than online purchasing; with the PayPal app users can make, send and receive payments to other PayPal users, including friends or roommates. Use the app to keep track of IOUs and to split bills.
Tip Yourself Build a rewards-based savings account with Tip Yourself. Whenever you do something you deserve a tip for, like finishing a big project or surviving a tough midterm exam, you can tip yourself and the app will withdraw however much money you’ve decided from your checking account and secret it away in a FDIC-insured savings account for a rainy day.
Toshl Finance Toshl is a one-stop finance app that connects to users’ bank accounts to help them pay bills, make a budget and even work towards long-term goals. When they approach the spending limits they have set, the app even sends users alerts.

Campus Safety

College campuses work to keep students safe, and those efforts have expanded to include smartphone apps. People often have a smartphone within easy reach, so communities and campuses can use them to alert students and faculty in case of an emergency. Students can likewise notify police on- and off-campus quickly through safety apps, or check in with friends and family members about plans and destinations.

I have BSafe, and honestly I’ve never really used it. I feel safer just having it on my phone though, like if I’m walking home late at night.Teuila Santos, Political Science: Public Policy & Law Seattle Pacific University

BSafe This app lets chosen “guardians” virtually walk home with users. BSafe can send GPS tracking and video or audio information to the user’s chosen guardians if needed, and the app also has other safety-oriented features like verbal activation, timers and alarms.
Circle of 6 Winner of the White House “Apps Against Abuse” challenge, this app was originally designed to combat sexual assault on campuses but can also be used for a wide variety of other situations. The user chooses six contacts who can be sent pre-written texts asking for a certain form of help. The app can also share location data and connect users to a wide range of national hotlines.
Companion Similar to BSafe, this app can send GPS tracking information to pre-selected contacts to help users get home safely. Companion can also be used for contacting and summoning emergency services.
Lifeline Response This app includes a wide range of security measures, such as deadman-switch styled buttons and loud or bright alarms. It also has timers and other hands-free options so the app can be used in even more situations, such as jogging.
SaferRide This app, created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, works to prevent DUIs by offering users an interface simple enough to be operated while drunk. The app connects users with local taxi companies, can call pre-selected contacts and can even help the user figure out where they are, if necessary.
Uber The classic rideshare app can be used to avoid a variety of dangerous situations by connecting people in need of rides with drivers. Uber has extensive rider- and driver-guidelines to help make sure their convenient rides are also safe rides.

Decorating Your Dorm Room

Living on-campus is beneficial to students and is even related to better GPAs and academic performance. A dorm room isn’t a home-away-from-home without personal touches, though, so keep reading to learn about the apps that can help students decorate, furnish and love their dorms.

I furnished almost my entire apartment with Freecycle & Trash Nothing. I got a daybed, a regular-bed, a dresser and even a cat. I don’t think cats are usually on Freecycle though.Katt Fillmore, CNC Machining Pima Community College

5Miles 5Miles connects users with sellers within a five-mile radius. For college students, this means seeing what is just a quick walk or bus ride away from campus.
Freecycle & Trash Nothing These two programs have teamed up to create an app that uses their combined powers to help users find-and get rid of-items. Find furniture, bikes and a million other things available in the local community for the most budget-friendly price ever known: free.
iHandy Carpenter This app turns a smartphone into a level, ruler and other carpenters’ tools so users can hang bulletin boards straight and make sure make sure posters are spaced perfectly. The app also has other useful tools like a digital plumbob and protractor.
Offer Up Users can search items for sale locally by distance and product type. Additionally, they can read the reviews on sellers and message them through the app, making buying and selling locally easier and quicker.
Photo Measures Photo Measures lets users take pictures of a room and save the measurements directly onto the photo. Students can use this to take out some of the guesswork when shopping for furniture and decor for a dorm or apartment.
VarageSale VarageSale brings the garage and yard sale to the internet. This website and app have a strong emphasis on safety; each user is screened and their identity verified before they can participate.

Finding & Living with Roommates

For many students, college is full of new experiences, including living with people they have never met before. This can be challenging on a variety of levels, but ultimately having a roommate helps students learn social skills vital to their adult life. Explore the apps below to find new tools for finding roommates and living with them.

I really recommend Chorma. It helps you track and assign household chores. My roommates and I can be very messy so we definitely need the help.Fattan Taqvi, Geology Humboldt State University

Chorma This app syncs across connected devices to keep chore lists up-to-date and make sure everyone stays in the loop about what has been done and what still needs doing. Users can also set up reward points and systems to stay motivated.
Splitwise Roommates can use splitwise to make sure everyone pays their fair share of rent and other household expenses. Rather than creating an extensive system of IOUs taped to the fridge, users can track who owes who what and even get reminder messages for bills.
Roomi Use this app to explore potential roommates and rentals in nearly two dozen cities (more cities are being added). Users can chat with potential roomies in the app and can see important compatibility information. The developers even search for and remove potential scams.
Roomster Roomster operates similarly to major apartment- and rental-search websites with another dimension added. Users can find people with housing seeking a roommate, someone without housing or even for tenants if they need a subletter during summer break.
White Noise Lite If silence is hard to find with roommates, white noise might be helpful for studying or even sleeping. The White Noise Lite app has a wide range of sounds, like rain and clothes dryers, that can help users ignore the noises that come with having roommates.

Health & Fitness

Health and fitness apps are a convenient way to monitor and motivate diet and exercise, and people who currently use exercise apps are even more likely to have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than past users and non-users. Creating a health routine can be difficult, especially for college students, but luckily there are dozens of apps geared towards helping users plan and meet health goals

I would recommend JeFit. This app has different workouts, a lot of which you can do from home, that help target certain areas. You can also build custom workouts and set reminders throughout the day.Denise Presley, Nursing Cochise College

I recommend MyFitnessPal. It has been really helpful for controlling my eating, weight, and fitness.Zachary Jones, Computer Information Systems Pima Community College

Carb Manager Users, especially those with diabetes, will find this app user-friendly and helpful for tracking carb, fiber and nutrition facts. The app can also track water intake and track blood sugar trends.
FIT Radio FIT Radio offers DJ-created workout playlists and soundtracks as well as motivational audio coaching. Users can filter playlists to find the ones with whatever genre or beats-per-minute they need.
JeFit This app aims to turn smartphones into personal gyms. Users can use the app as a workout log, personal trainer, coach and more.
MapMyRun This UnderArmor-sponsored app helps users find running, walking and jogging routes to fit their personal needs. Users can see popular routes in the area or create a new route by telling the app how long and how difficult of a route they want.
Meditation Studio Meditation Studio offers guided meditation from a wide range of experts so users can find the voice and method that works best for them. The app has over 400 guided meditations available in addition to a range of other mindfulness and meditation-related tools.
MyFitnessPal This popular app supports users’ health from a variety of angles by providing a vast nutrition database, workout journal and diet journal. Like MapMyRun, MyFitnessPal is an UnderArmor app.
PEAR Personal Coach PEAR Personal Coach offers audio-heavy coaching and workouts so users can exercise without looking at a screen or holding a phone. It also has activity trackers, a range of coaching tracks to choose from and even adjusts coaching and exercise plans to suit users’ needs.
Sleep Cycle This alarm app monitors your breathing and movements throughout the night in order to wake you up at a light part of your sleep cycle instead of disorienting deep sleep. The app chooses this point based not only on your sleep cycle but also when you want the alarm to go off so you’ll wake up feeling rested and in time to get ready for the day.

Scholarships & Saving Money on School

College is expensive and can be impossible for some to afford without student loans. In fact, 70% of recent college graduates had student debt in 2015. Although debt can be hard to avoid altogether, students can find scholarships and other ways to help offset the cost of higher education.

BookScouter Textbooks can be expensive to buy and may have little use when the semester is over, so students sell their textbooks to websites, campus bookstores and even fellow students. Using the BookScouter app, students can scan the barcode on their textbook and find its resale value and even potential online buyers.
Chegg Books Chegg is a book rental company and students can use its app to rent their textbooks. Chegg’s app also gives students free access to the ebook version of their textbooks while they wait for the rental to arrive and gives students the opportunity to sell back textbooks to Chegg at the end of the semester.
DREAMer’s Roadmap This app connects young undocumented immigrants — known as DREAMers — to scholarships they can use to fund college. As undocumented students cannot receive federal financial aid, scholarships are absolutely vital for affording higher education.
Precisely This app connects users with scholarship opportunities and applications across the globe that fit them through a complex system of data analysis. The app also searches other ways of funding college, such as fellowships and competitions, and can even help users find internships.
Scholly This app not only helps students find scholarships, it also tracks application statuses and deadlines. Students will also find resources to help them improve their scholarship applications.

Studying & Note Taking

Classes are the central part of the college experience and require a lot of time and dedication. Earning good grades and a high GPA is difficult, but some of the following apps might make that a little easier.

Quizlet! This app is a study-life saver because it allows you to create your own flashcards for any class/subject all on your phone anytime you need them. It’s also super eco friendly since you’re not using paper to create the flashcards.Lauren Nuñez, Communications University of Arizona

Documents This app can simply a student’s collection of documents and note taking. Documents collects documents from everywhere a user might have them saved (such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud), allows users to open and organize the files within the app itself, and even has PDF annotation options for note taking.
EasyBib EasyBib is a popular tool that helps users format their citations and create reference lists for research projects and essays. The app lets uses scan barcodes on books to build the citation and includes all the major citation formats.
Evernote Evernote is a jack-of-all-trades app that can be used for virtually any type of note taking or record keeping. Users can organize projects into different files and folders within the app, add screenshots and photos into documents, collaborate with other students and sync their work across all their devices.
Quizlet Students of all ages can use this app to study whatever topics they need help memorizing. Users can access cards made by other students or create their own sets of flashcards.
ScannerPro ScannerPro, from the same makers as Documents, lets iPhones work as scanners in order to digitize documents and create searchable text. The app also minimizes distortions that can come from creased or folded paper.
SimpleMind Visual and non-visual learners alike can benefit from this thought-mapping app. SimpleMind gives users a platform to build extensive idea webs and maps that can be used for brainstorming, outlining and more.
Study Buddy This app connects students with others studying for the same class, test or topic. In addition to helping students find study buddies and study groups, it can also help students find tutors.

Time Management & Planning

College students may find themselves in charge of their schedules like never before. The workload is likely heavier and harder to plan as well. Continue reading to find some apps that help prevent scheduling stress and procrastination so you can focus on your studies and earn that degree.

I recommend Hatch and Forest. They really help me say off my phone so I can focus on my assignments, not to mention the little Hatch monsters are absolutely adorable.Alexia Lopez, Creative Writing and Mathematics University of Arizona

Forest Users can plant a virtual seed in this app whenever they need to focus on something and stay off of their phones. If they access their phone too soon, the plant withers and can die; if they do not use their phone, the sprout can grow into a tree.
Habitica This game combines to-do lists and pixel RPG gaming in order to help users complete projects and develop healthy habits. Students can join guilds with friends, and the more tasks they complete (such as assignments and study sessions) the stronger they become in the game.
Hatch Hatch is built for people who are easily distracted by their phones and need help focusing. With Hatch, users decide how long they want to work and when the time is up they “hatch” a little monster from an egg. If the users closes or leaves the app before that point, the egg never hatches.
iHomework 2 This digital planner helps students track assignments and important dates. The app also includes productivity graphs to show general trends and long-term views so students can see what their upcoming weeks and months look like.
My Study Life Similar to iHomework, this app is essentially a digital planner specifically for students. My Study Life is geared towards those in college, so the app has extensive scheduling flexibility and allows users to include non-academic plans.
Zenday This app creates a flow-style calendar and to-do list that lets users see their schedule three-dimensionally. Individuals who best relate to information presented visually may especially benefit from this type of planner.

Professional Development

Whether a summer internship or a post-graduation career, jobs can be difficult to find and even more difficult to land. Continue reading to learn about apps that can help students and recent graduates find jobs, create impressive resumes and make a good first impression for the fateful interview.

I use Resume Star. I wasn’t taught how to make a resume in school and when I realized I needed one I didn’t know exactly how to start. Resume Star showed me what sort of things to include on a resume and how to format one.Devon Van Aken, Surgical Technology Pima Community College

How to Tie a Tie Fast and Easy Although a relatively minor part of interviews and professional development, appearances can still make or break a career opportunity. This app shows users how to tie a variety of tie knots using easy-to-follow video tutorials.
LinkedIn This app performs many of the same tasks as the fully-fledged desktop version but now from the convenience of a smartphone. LinkedIn can be used to network with other people, find a job and to create a professional online presence.
PathSource This career aptitude test inspired app can help users determine what career they will enjoy. The app also shows users how to reach that career, including what universities or programs they may need.
Resume Star Resume Star helps users build a resume by adjusting the fonts and layout of the resume after users fill out the information they want on it. Additionally, the app is free to use; they only ask that you pay the $5.99 once the resume you created helps you get an interview or job.
ZipRecruiter Job Search This app helps job seekers find opportunities in their areas and apply to them fast. Many jobs on ZipRecruiter are posted by the employers themselves, so users can track the progress of their application and eventual hiring decision through the app as well.

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

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