7 back-to-school apps that will save your life (and grades)


So. The time is upon us. Returning to campus can be stressful—whether you’re a innocent-faced freshman who’s planning on going to office hours every week and being best friends forever with everyone in their Unit or a dead-eyed senior who just wants to churn out their thesis and never step foot on the Hill again—you’re not alone in the struggle. No, I’m not talking about support from friends and family—I’m talking about someone who’s been there for you even when those folks weren’t. Your phone, duh.

How will you stay focused, cram like an expert, learn four months’ worth of material in two days, get by without a graphing calculator, and find time to relax, all in one semester? These apps are here to help.

1. Khan Academy (iPhone / Google Play)

Khan Academy is a must-have, no matter how old you are or what you’re studying (though it’s definitely the biggest help for STEM fields). Have Sal Khan and his amazing team of experts walk you through any topic you feel like you don’t understand—they can help with anything from finding quantum numbers for orbital shells to integrating a mathematical expression to learning about the lifestyle of the ancient Mesopotamians. The educators at Khan Academy have a knack for breaking the most complex subjects into easy-to-grasp, understandable material. (And Sal Khan has a really soothing voice. Take that as you will.)

Khan Academy has resources on virtually every topic.
Khan Academy has resources on virtually every topic.

2. Quizlet (iPhone / Google Play) / Cram (iPhone / Google Play)

As any desperate student knows, in times of great stress, rote memorization is the way to go. Sure, it’s not exactly the best way to learn, but it’ll get you through a midterm or final. Quizlet is an excellent, well-known resource for making flashcards, quizzing yourself with them, and even playing minigames to test yourself. Cram is a lesser-known alternative that allows you to make multiple-choice questions to practice with; it can also grade your test performance and track your progress.

3. Mindmeister (iPhone / Google Play)

Undoubtedly, the hardest part of any assignment is getting the first ideas, or words, or just thoughts, down on paper. Mindmeister is an app that helps you map out your thoughts and link your ideas together clearly. You can create, edit, and sort “mind maps” that will help you get yourself and your brainstorming together before the big deadline comes.

Mindmeister planning at work!
Mindmeister planning at work!

4. MyHomework (iPhone / Google Play)

MyHomework is pretty self-explanatory; it’s a student planner app that helps keep track of class schedules, assignments, and deadlines. Getting your shit together and not missing another homework assignment or midterm date has never been so easy!

5. RescueTime (Google Play)

Can’t focus on anything except the Game of Thrones subreddit? Trying to study but can’t because your roommate is always inviting you out? Literally never have any time but have no idea what you’ve been doing? RescueTime is for you. This app will help you identify your top distractors and restructure your time so you can use it more productively. It tracks your website usage and sends alerts to let you know you’ve been spending way too much time on a certain site or app, like Facebook or Temple Run (do people still play that?)

6. WordHippo (Website)

WordHippo isn’t an app, but a website, that serves as a thesaurus. With cute hippos. Avoid the same word you’ve used twenty times in your essay, find a word with the exact opposite meaning, or find a rhyme. Whatever you need, this site can help you get the word that’s right under your nose.

7. Headspace (iPhone / Google Play)

Last but not least, we have Headspace, a guided meditation app. Because after all of the studying you’re going to be doing, you’d be remiss to think that you’d be able to get by without some moments to calm down, destress, and move away from all things thesis, problem set, and deadline. With just a few minutes of meditation a day, you can learn the essentials of living a happier, healthier life.

Good luck this year, Brunonia!


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