In the United States, education spending accounts for just over 6% of the GDP, which means around $1.2 trillion. Still, technology gets only 3% of that funding. It’s clear that the education sector has been slow to make use of tech tools, but with the coronavirus pandemic, things have changed quite a bit.
Social distancing measures have forced educators and students to switch to online learning, which has resulted in more software tools designed to make learning more engaging and interactive.
There are millions of apps on the market which makes it difficult to choose the right ones. There are certainly a few that stand out. Here is our list of seven essential software tools for college students.
Everyone is on Zoom these days, so it seems only fitting to start our list with it. Zoom has become one of the most popular apps during the pandemic. It’s a high-quality video conferencing app and our top choice for online classes.
It offers HD quality video calls with virtually no distortion or lag, and now it lifted the 40-minute limit on basic accounts. The basic accounts are free but have some limitations. If you want to buy a pro plan, they’re between $14.99 and $19.99 per month.
Zoom has a bunch of really useful features like:
- Digital whiteboard
- One-click content sharing
- Polling, chats, and other collaboration features
- Ability to record classes.
Evernote is a fantastic tool for college students. It allows them to keep track of school events, assignments, and to-do lists. But what it truly excels at is note-taking.
You can make separate digital binders for each subject, scan handwritten notes or text from the blackboard and look up topics online, add sketches or fast notes directly into PDFs with a stylus, attach audio and video notes, and many other things.
When you’re in college, most of your academic work consists of attending classes and writing assignments. If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of losing your notes and then having to waste a lot of time looking for them, then you should give Evernote a try. You can use it to store all your notes and access them from different devices. You can also use a free PDF combiner for offline viewing.
Since we’re on the topic of writing assignments, some professors get really irritated when they find grammar mistakes in them, so you’ll need a tool that can point them out for you. Grammarly does that and much more.
It’s a must-have writing tool that will help you improve your writing skills and speed up your workflow. Grammarly checks spelling, punctuation, and grammar. It also provides readability suggestions and allows you to look up synonyms for specific words by double-clicking them.
You can choose between formal and informal writing styles, the target audience, the purpose of your writing (inform, persuade, etc.), and even the emotions you want to portray. The premium version can also check for plagiarism.
Speaking of plagiarism, it can get you into a lot of trouble in academia. Before even reading your work, your professors will most likely check to see if it’s original. If it turns out it’s not, your credibility and reputation will suffer, and there will be other more tangible consequences as well.
But sometimes, it wasn’t even the student’s intention to plagiarize. They’re not just copying and pasting. Unless you’re taking a class on creative writing, your assignments will probably be based on researching and paraphrasing other people’s work. A tool like Copyscape can help you make sure you’ve paraphrased the right way so your paper is considered original.
It’s very intuitive, and it will show you the results in only a few seconds, including highlighted sections it found matched on and that you will need to rewrite.
Google Docs, Sheets and Slides
What makes Google Docs, Sheets and Slides better than other free software solutions is that you’ll have a much easier time collaborating with your colleagues and group projects. You can invite people to view and modify your documents in real-time.
Google Docs has all the standard editing features and allows you to upload DOC, DOCX, XLS, CSV, and PPT files, and it’s very easy to use.
Multiple people can work in the same document simultaneously, and you can trace who made what changes and even discuss the changes using the live chat.
It also autosaves, so you don’t have to worry about losing your work if your laptop battery dies or your internet connection goes down. If you delete something by accident, you can easily restore and view prior version of your work.
There are quite a few advantages to storing your data in the cloud, but two are particularly important. The data is safer because it’s automatically backed up, and you can access it from multiple devices. There are a variety of cloud storage options, but Google Drive is one of the most popular.
Google Backup and Sync is the program you’ll use to synchronize data between your computer and your cloud storage. You just have to select which files and folders you want to be synchronized, but you can back up your entire computer if you’d prefer. If the storage space offered for free doesn’t cover your needs, you can always upgrade to the premium plan, which is surprisingly affordable even for a lot of space.
Because of the number of platforms it supports and the high quality of its web apps, Google Drive stands out among its competitors.
You can think of Zotero as your personal research assistant. It’s a free reference management program that collects and saves your sources as you write, making assignments much easier to complete.
It creates an online folder for each of your assignments, and you add the sources with a single click, whether they’re journal articles, websites, eBooks, etc. Then Zotero automatically adds the sources you’ve saved into this folder as in-text citations. It also generates your bibliography, which will save you a lot of time, especially on longer papers.