The Best Apps For College Students

I recently updated to a iPhone 6S and I am obsessed with it. Since I have a lot more space on my current iPhone, apps have been my best friend. Today I am going to share some of my favorite free and paid applications with you for college students. I'd love to know if you decide to check out any of these apps and if you love them as much as I do. Enjoy!

1. GroupMe

Free; Apple/Android

The first app that I want to talk about is GroupMe. If you have ever done a group project, you know how difficult it can be to get everyone together and coordinate tasks. I really love GroupMe for this aspect. It's a pretty easy app to upload and use for Group projects. With GroupMe you can create events/meetings, share pictures, gifs, and other fun things. You can like comments, and it's a great way to share your message with groups.

This can also be beneficial if you don't necessarily want to give out your number to other group members. You can create a GroupMe instead and add people with their email address. Once the Group project is done you can easily either leave the group if you are a member or delete the group if you own a group.

App Alternatives: I also really like Slack for group chats. This app is great, but it definitely takes a little more to set up a Slack room than it takes to set up a room on GroupMe. If you are in a time pinch, I encourage GroupMe over Slack, but if you will be collaborating for a long period of time then I encourage you to check out Slack. If you have a cohort or an officer team then Slack may be a better option for you and your team.

 

2. Quizlet

Free; Apple/Android

The next app that we are going to discuss is Quizlet. I think that every college student knows and loves this application. Quizlet is wonderful for studying on the go, and there are so many awesome ways that you can study.

  • Cards: These are the simplest form of learning on Quizlet. These are the simple flashcards that you know and love. Question/phrase on one side and the answer on the other. You can flip through these and study as much as you want.
  • Learn: A fill in the blank study game which allows you to take the cards you learned and fill in one side from memory.
  • Match: A matching game where you are given 12 cards and asked to make 6 matches based on the cards. You can keep playing the cards while trying to beat your time and adding different cards into the mix each time.
  • Test: A literal test featuring written, multiple choice, and true/false questions about the cards in your deck. This can be really great to do a quick knowledge test of how well you know a deck of flashcards.

Quizlet has so many great features and can be amazing if you love using flashcards to study. It is so easy to make new decks on your phone (you can even add pictures to the decks!) Also, there are TONS of pre-made decks so if you ever just have a few minutes and want to test your knowledge of various subjects, it's easy to do that on Quizlet.

 

3. Focus Keeper

$1.99; Apple

The next app I am talking about is one of the first paid apps on this list, but let me tell you, it is so worth it. You all know my love of the Pomodoro Technique, and I have been looking for a great app that I could use for a while. I have been trying to find an app that works for me, and this is the first one that I have used that works well.

In the past I have used the timer app on my iPhone, but to be honest, that has it's downsides. The timer app isn't really made to be used to cycle through multiple timer times. Each time I wanted to set a 5 minute timer after I set a 25 minute timer, I had to go through a lot of unnecessary hoops. This timer is so seamless between 25 and 5 minute timers that it's unreal. You can easily adjust the length of your pomodoro focus sessions within the app, as well as your breaks. 

The one thing I love about this app is that there is a ticking featuring, but you can easily turn that ticking feature off. For some, the ticking feature gives them a sense of urgency, but for me it's just a distraction. There are so many settings that the whole app really allows for a lot of customization to your pomodoro experience. There are also some great charts that allow you to really tell how focused you have been. 

I am not really sure if there is aa great app alternative for Android, but I use this one on my iPhone and it works amazingly. If anyone knows of any great Android pomodoro/focus timers let me know in the comments because I'd love to know what you use!

 

4. Evernote

Free; Apple/Android

Note taking is extremely important in college. Having a great note taking app is important so that you can easily jot down important thoughts, capture images, record sayings, and more. The reason I love Evernote is because it is like your notes cloud. You can access your Evernote notes across multiple platforms so they don't just live on your phone, but they also live on your iPad, computer, and whatever other devices you have. While the iPhone notes app is great, it is more difficult to access them across multiple platforms (especially if your phone is the only Apple product you own.) The Notes app is definitely great if you just want to access your notes on your iPhone, but if you want to be able to pull them up anywhere automatically, I really encourage the Evernote app as your notes app of choice.

 

5. Google Maps

Free; Apple/Android

I know what you are thinking, "Amanda, what about Apple's Maps app. Why are we downloading so many apps that are already on our phone through Apple?" Well, I say you might have to get used to that, because I have a few apps on this list you may be able to somewhat get through Apple. Two, I just like the interface of Google Maps a whole lot better. The directions are easier, the route navigation is easier (hello avoiding traffic), and it's just a really cool application all around for navigating your college town. Apple's Maps app is great, but it's quite basic in my opinion. You can really do a lot with Google Maps including storing a home and work address; figuring out where nearby gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies, and more are; and you can even download areas to your phone so you can easily view them offline. 

Overall, I really dig this application. It's nothing new, but it really works.

 

6. Spotify

Free; Apple/Android

Yes, you could easily just use Apple Music. In fact, I am using Apple Music as my music player of choice right now. I will always have a soft spot for Spotify though, because I started using Spotify while it was still in it's North American Beta stage. I love Spotify, even over Apple Music. I feel like Apple Music puts way more emphasis on playlists, while Spotify puts more emphasis on albums. Music is just a great thing for any college student. You can listen to classical music while you are studying, a workout playlist while you are hitting the gym, and a party playlist while you get ready to go out. Both Spotify and Apple Music create great experiences. 

Spotify is free to use, if you want to deal with commercials and not being able to really pick your songs. I highly encourage you to look into Spotify Premium for Students as you can get Spotify Premium for $4.99 per/month. This is such a great deal in my opinion, do you remember when we would buy CDs all the time and they'd be $10 a piece?

 

7. Audible

Free; Apple/Android

The next application we are going to talk about is Audible. I LOVE Audible. Right now I am sitting on two Audible credits (if you have any book recommendations leave them in the comments because I don't know what to do with them.) So, Audible isn't free, just the application is free. Audible has many amazing plans to get you the best audiobooks for great prices. Right now I am on the 1 Audiobook a month for $14.95 plan. Audible books can be great for personal or school related reading. For example, right now I am listening to a book called Dreamland on Audible that I am reading for my Criminal Behavior class. I am an extremely slow reader by default, so using one of my Audible credits to get this book on Audible was a great investment for me.

 

8. Sleep Cycle

Apple - Free; Android - $0.99

Sleep is one of those things we all need. Apple's alarm is getting better, but it doesn't really have anything on Sleep Cycle. Sleep Cycle is free on Apple, but you can pay for premium to get some great features.

One of my favorite Premium features in this app is the sleep aid feature which plays soothing music while you fall asleep. I love this feature because you can also choose how long this plays. For instance, if you only want it to play for about 30 minutes while you go to sleep, you can make that happen. This is great if you don't want your phone to play music all night, just until you get into a deeper sleep. You can also toggle music back on during the night in case you wake up and can't get back to sleep.

Another feature I love is the wakeup phase. Sleep Cycle monitors your sleeping patterns throughout the night and wakes you up at the best time during a window of sleeping so that it doesn't wake you up in your deepest sleep. This can be beneficial because it means you are less cranky when you wake up, and more energized. Sometimes this means that you will wake up at the last minute of you wake up phase, but also sometimes you will wake up at the beginning of your wake up phase. This may be hard for some people to handle, but if your overall day will be better, why not try to wake up at the best time for your body.

 

9. Trello

Free; Apple/Android

The next app we are going to talk about is Trello. There are so many great checklist and to-do list apps out there. Trello is great if you are just creating a to-do list for yourself. You can add a lot of great cards to your to do list; separate them as to-do, doing, and done; add pictures to your to do's; add dates and so much more. The amount of productivity you can manage with Trello is astounding. 

App Alternatives: I also really love Asana as an application for checklists and to-dos. It can be really difficult to keep up with though if you are just using it for yourself. If you have a team or group project though, Asana is definitely one of the most helpful applications I know of for group work.

 

10. Ready4GRE

Free; Apple; Android

Last, but not least, we are going to talk about one of my favorite GRE apps of the moment. Ready4GRE is just one of the apps I am using the practice for the GRE. I have finally set a test date, and I am really excited to finally get this test out of the way. It's going to give me so much anxiety, but I am excited to start applying to PhD programs, so this is the first step. I have tried a lot of GRE applications, but I really like this one because it is one of the most stable ones I have used over these past few weeks. They have great lessons and reviews on each lesson, plus they also have daily review questions for the quantitative and verbal sections of the test. 

I really encourage anyone looking for a GRE app to check out this one, plus it's free. 

 

Finial thoughts

I am really interested in knowing what your favorite applications are. I am always looking for more apps to add to my phone. What apps do you think all college students should have on their phones?

How To Get Over Presentation Jitters

I am what you might call an academic extrovert. Even though I am somewhat of an extrovert in the classroom, outside of the classroom, I am extremely introverted. There are still some parts of the classroom that make me fearful, and that is public speaking. I have become much better at this over the years (especially in the last year since I have started graduate school.) Giving presentations can be scary, but they don't have to be. Here are my tips for getting over presentation jitters.

How To Get Over Presentation Jitters | Click through for 10 tips all about getting over presentation jitters from how to transition between topics to properly preparing and understanding your presentation topic.

1. Participate In Class Before Your Presentation Date

One of the easiest ways to stop presentation jitters is being familiar with your classmates. If you know your presentation date is coming up, participate in your class. Make it a point to get to know your classmates before and after class and become more comfortable with them (or at least a handful of them.) Overtime, the more comfortable you are with your classmates, the easier giving speeches will be.

Earlier this semester I agreed to go first in a presentation, which is something I hardly ever do. I'd done a presentation with the professor before this class and I knew a lot of the students in my class so it was easier for me to get up and do the first presentation of the semester. Now my presentation is done and it's a big assignment that I don't have to worry about for the rest of the year. Crazy, right?!

I wouldn't have been able to do that if I didn't already know so many of the people in my class. Sometimes you don't know your classmates or you are taking a general education class with a bunch of strangers. Make it your mission to talk to many of the people around you and participate in class so you get used to talking and sharing your opinions. Don't hold back with your participation, this will make you feel more comfortable on your presentation day.

2. Don't Wait Until The Last Minute To Start

The worst thing you can do during a presentation, when you are nervous, is wait until the last minute. You want to give yourself time to write the presentation, make slides based on the presentation, and practice said presentation. It may be easier to wait until when you feel more comfortable with the course and the people in it, but until you get in that mindset, be careful about procrastination. 

If you have time to prepare for your speech, make sure you are using as much of that time as possible. Even if the first few days are just reading the instructions or doing something simple. Try to get something done on your presentation each day after you find out you are giving one.

3. Understand How You Will Be Graded

Rubrics are your best friend when it comes to presentations. If you can get an understanding of how you will be graded, your life will be so much easier. What is your professor looking for in each presentation? Once you understand where most of your points will come from you can focus on those things instead of trying to understand every aspect of your speech. Are they looking for length, information, discussion? Understand what couple of tasks you really need to focus on and the rest can be worked on along the way. Most of your focus should be on the big three or four tasks that get you the most return on your investment. 

Rubrics can also be used to understand where you need to stand in each category to get the grade that you want. Say, you will be graded on a 50 point scale, and you want to get at least an A. That means you need at least 45 points. Then you can look at the categories and see where you can score better (and where you may not score as well.) After that you can determine where you need to focus your energy. You may have certain parts that you know you will do well on, so you may decide to focus on the parts that you won't do instinctively as well on. Whatever way you decide to divide your time is up to you.

4. Get Familiar with the presentation material

You need to be familiar with the material you will be presenting. It's really awkward to watch someone who hasn't truly been exposed to the material they are talking about. You want to make sure that you get familiar with the presentation material so that you can talk about the material confidently. Take time to go down all the rabbit holes and find out as much information about the material as possible. Don't get stuck trying to constantly come up with new material, your speech or presentation can only be so long. Know when to proceed and when to stop.

Know your time limit and speech tendencies

When you are preparing a presentation and what to talk about in that presentation you need to know how long your speech is supposed to be and what your speech tendencies are. Is it just a five minute presentation or are you putting together an hour long presentation? Do you talk slower when you get nervous, or do you rush through things? If you know that you have a tendency to rush through things while you are in front of a classroom, you may want to have some extra material available to cover just so you fill the amount of time necessary.

If you don't want to bring up extra material, you can also focus on your breathing while you are on stage and remind yourself of that need to breathe while you are in front of the class. Be in tune with your body, notice when you are going a little too fast, and then slow it down.

5. Focus on Your Transitions

When it comes to speeches and presentations, the hardest part for me is definitely the transition. Flowing from one topic to another can be a very difficult thing to do. Focus specifically on how you intend to transition topics or how you plan to group things together so they make sense. What order do you want to talk about your topics?

Earlier this semester I gave a presentation on violent crime. I had a specific order for my presentation that I thought would make everything mesh better together. This was an hour long presentation and the basic outline of my presentation went like this:

  1. Video Icebreaker/Introduction: I showed a quick 6 minute video about gentrification and violent crime to the class. I thought this video was interesting and would be a good way to pull the audience into my presentation from the start. Then I asked a couple of questions and had a little bit of discussion about the video clip.
  2. Overview Article: One of our assignments that I was supposed to discuss during my presentation was an article called What Causes Violent Crime. This article was good as an overview article to the topic of violent crime so it was the first article that I discussed and asked no questions about.
  3. Sub Article 1: The next article we talked about discussed a very specific case of violent crime--gang related violent crime. I thought it made sense as the next step article to discuss and ask a question about. This was an assigned reading.
  4. Sub Article 2: The next article I talked about riffed off of Sub Article 1. It shared one of the same authors and it talked about the same city as Sub Article 1. I decided it would also be a great article to discuss because it was about lead exposure and crime. Lead exposure has been on the news a lot lately thanks to places like Flint, MI and I thought it would pique a lot of people's interest in my criminology course so I talked about the article and asked a question about it.
  5. Sub Article 3: Lastly, we were also assigned an article called Race, Economic Inequality, and Violent Crime. Since the previous couple of articles had mentioned race a bit I thought it would be an interesting article to cap off the article part of my presentation and ask a question about. 
  6. Video Wrap-Up/Conclusion: To end the conversation I brought out another film clip from one of my favorite shows Last Week Tonight with John Oliver where he talked about how people feel about crime numbers going up versus the facts of crime trends and numbers going down. I thought it wrapped up the conversation really well. I also asked a few questions about this video.

When I am doing working on my presentations, I am always thinking of how all my pieces and parts can best work together. The above presentation was written for a discussion leading so the point of the presentation was to introduce questions and have discussions. Your presentation transitions may be different than mine, but think of all your presentation pieces like a puzzle and figure out how you can move them so they fit together.

6. If You Can, Get There Early To Set Up

I always get a lot less nervous when I know that all my presentation ducks are in a row. If your professor allows you to get there early to pull up your presentation, definitely do so. You will feel so much better knowing you either have your presentation, have time to fix it if something goes wrong, or maybe even have time to go get it if you can't open it if you live close by. I say always have your presentation in two to three locations if you can (or have it in a location close by.) I am so lucky that I am usually working on my presentations in my office before class so usually they are stored on my office computer if they aren't in my email or on whatever device I take them to class in. Store your presentation in multiple places: in a cloud based service like Google Drive, on a flash drive, and/or in your email are probably the best places to store your presentation.

When I am setting up my presentation for a course I usually open up my presentation file, then I open up all of my videos in a window so that they are loading (and so they don't buffer or skip during the presentation.) Make sure that you also have anything you need for the presentation such as water, your notes, and a copy of your powerpoint. I like to have a copy of the PowerPoint so I can keep up with what's on each slide during the presentation as more than likely the presentation will be shown behind you.

7. Understand That Everyone Is Nervous

Everyone is nervous. No one is a presentation pro, not even your professor. Part of what makes their presentation so flawless is that they are preparing for the presentation all the time. Your professors may have even given the same presentation multiple times that week or in their lifetime. They know the script, chances are they have been following the same one for a while. At the same time, I know that they still take time to prepare before every. single. class. 

Last semester I helped one of my professors by being a TA for his course. I only led class once and I still felt nervous before every class. I had a ritual of things I would do before every single class so that I could calm my nerves before heading down to class. Being in front of people is nerve-wracking, even when it's not your primary job. 

All of your classmates are probably nervous about their presentations as well. I have seen extroverted people turn to mush when they had to give a presentation, I have seen introverts shine when they had to do their presentations. You have the power to get over that nervousness though.

8. Practice Makes Perfect

Going over your presentation over and over before your presentation will really help you out. My alma mater even had speech tutoring where students could go into rooms and record themselves giving their presentation so they could catch the ticks they had before class. What resources does your school give to students taking speech classes or students who have to give presentations in their courses? Utilize those resources.

You can also just record yourself giving your presentation or enlist the help of a trusted friend to listen to your presentation before you give it. Practicing in front of a wide array of people will help you become more comfortable with the material and help you fix the issues that are in your presentation before you give it.

9. If You Can Get Other People To Participate, Do So!

As you can see by the presentation transitions I showed you earlier, I love presentations where I can ask for audience participation. Are you leading a discussion or are you giving a speech? If you can get your audience to participate, depend on them to participate. Come up with not only questions, but also follow up questions. You can come up with these on the spot or beforehand. If you see a conversation coming up, don't be afraid to water it so it will grow.

For example, one of the questions I asked during the presentation was all about how gentrification might impact poor people and what we could potentially do to reduce that effect. People weren't as talkative as I'd liked them to have been at first during this part of the presentation (I also had a time in my head that I wanted each part of my presentation to take.) so I thought about a particular initiative in my head that people use to control the impacts of gentrification (rent control) and I asked them how they felt about that specific thing as a mechanism to fight the effects of gentrification.

Sometimes you think a question is a more open question, but it turns out that when you are reading it aloud, it's more closed. Being able to have some follow up questions there to keep the conversation flowing is very important. The more you can get your classmates to talk, the less you have to talk. Think about that when you are giving your next presentation.

10. Remember to relax

Lastly, I will end this with one simple word: relax. This advice is great at so many parts of your speech from forming it, to practicing it, to actually speaking it. Relax, don't be so tense, just try your best. If you take the time to relax; do everything you are told in your rubric; and give a detailed speech you will be just fine and dandy. Remember to breathe. Remember to relax.

Final thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this blog all about how to get over presentation jitters. Presentations can be scary, but they don't have to be. As long as remember to relax, plan, and give the best presentation you can be you should be just fine.

What is your best presentation tip?

Five Lessons My First Year Of Law School Taught Me

In the spirit of going back to school, I wanted to share the five most crucial lessons I learned my first year of law school. I had no friends from undergrad or family members to explain the way and I was just trying to graze by every day. At times I thought I was doing enough, literally studying ten hours a day and all days on weekends. My grades came in after the first trimester and that wasn't enough. It is all about working smarter and not harder and these are the lessons I learned along the way. If you are a law student or looking at going into law, leave a comment below saying hi and feel free to add your favorite lesson.

Five Lessons My First Year Of Law School Taught Me | Click through to learn five lessons a 2nd year law student learned during her first year of law school.

1. A Weekly Me Time

Scheduling “me time” may sound silly, but you will thank me later. Find something you love doing, whether it is scrolling through WeHeartIt or a Zumba class, just do it. Usually each Wednesday, I will grab some fun bath stuff such as bubble bath, Epson salt (to get rid of those toxins), and pair it with a glass of water and a beautiful green face mask. If it has been a crazy week, the water may or may not be a salt-rimmed glass filled with a margarita. I’ll watch something on Netflix and make myself stay in for about thirty minutes.

This is important, because no matter where you go your first year of law school – you will be graded on a curve. You will be motivated to spend hours on end studying and end up neglecting yourself. You may be motivated to spend the hours you should be sleeping and taking care of yourself, studying. It totally makes sense because you are likely paying a ton of money to receive this education, but it is essential to take a break and do something to relax your body and mind.

 

2. Legal Research is the Most  Important Class You'll Take

A lot of 1L’s blow off legal research. It isn’t a doctrinal class and who doesn’t know how to use Google? However, it is the most important class you will probably ever take in law school. It is important to learn how the different databases work because it is unlikely that your firm will subscribe to more than one. Many smaller firms cannot even afford these databases so they stick with the old-fashioned books.

3. Take the Professor Not the Course

When it comes to exams, each professor has certain things they are looking for. While one may want you to retell the facts and teach them the law in an examination another may literally say, “I wrote the exam, don’t tell me the story, just apply the law.” It is important to find out what each professor is looking for and tailor your study habits and class preparations to their standards. This will help your grades out and build solid foundations with your professors.

4. Grades Matter, but Only so Much

You may have heard that your 1L grades matter the most. This is true. Your first semester grades will be what likely solidifies your summer internship. Then, you will secure your second year’s job in the summer of your first year or within the first few months of your 2L year. Do not kill yourself over making good grades or think your life is over when that first C in your life shows up on your transcript. Everyone around is smart and the majority of your classmates work hard. Study smart and just rock it out the best you can. At the end of the day, all that matters is passing the bar.

5. Get Involved 

Pro bono hours are important and will set you apart from other students. While only some schools require them, it is a great idea to get in the habit of lending a hand or a brain cell. Even if your state does not mandate hours required for pro bono cases, a total of hours disclosure is required when you take your CLE’s and renew your license as an attorney. Projects that you can get involved in without your license at school would be volunteering as a Guardian at Ludlum or your school’s Innocence Project. These activities can be listed on your resume and set you a part from other law students. 

Thanks for reading and I hope that you are enjoying your journey. Hope to see you soon either here or on my blog and social medias!

All the best,

Kimberlee is currently pursuing a joint J.D. / M.B.A. degree at Elon University in North Carolina. She hopes to work in a corporate office after graduating and passing the bar in 2018. Her favorite first year classes were Property and Torts despite landing a research assistance position with her Contracts professor.

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