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10 best mobile apps for students

Liane Cassavoy | Sept. 4, 2014
The lazy days of summer are over and it's time to go back to school. That means it's also time to top off your tablet or smartphone with the tools you need to succeed. We combed through the glut of educational apps in search of some that will help you manage your course load, prepare for exams, and even get you to class on time. These 10 made our Dean's List.


It's not often that I find a mobile app easier to use than the web-based version (I have an affinity for a big display and a full keyboard), but such is the case with RefMe, a free app for Android and iOS devices. RefMe is designed to help create a reference list for a paper or project--often a grueling task that simply feels like a lot of extra work once the actual paper itself is done.

Using the web-based version of RefMe, you create a project and then build a reference list by entering or searching for the title of a book, journal article, web page, or another source. If RefMe finds the source, it fills in the information for you and formats it properly according to the style you select. Style choices include all the big names you'd expect, including Oxford, Chicago, MLA, and more. It's easy enough to use, but the mobile app makes it even easier on you, allowing you to enter a title automatically by scanning the barcode on the book. There's less typing and your work's done faster? Sounds like an A+ to me.


That paper planner you're toting around? It's so 1999. Move into the new millennium with myHomework, a digital version of your favorite day planner from last century. Available as an app for Android, Chrome, iOS, and Windows 8, myHomework lets you track assignments, projects, tests, class schedules, and more. Enter an assignment, and myHomework will know when it's due based on your class schedule. If your teacher uses, the app also allows you to receive assignments and messages directly. myHomework is available in a free, albeit limited version; you can get more features by opting to receive ads and upgrading to the Premium version for $5 per year.


When it comes to taking notes, your iPad may not necessarily be the first device you think of. After all, it's much easier to type quickly on a laptop or even to take notes by hand. But Notability, a $3 iOS app may change your thinking. It allows you take notes by hand on screen (a stylus will prove helpful if you're interested in speed and legibility) or by typing. Notability also allows you to record audio and take and add photos to your notes--just try doing that with your old-fashioned notebook. 


If you spend hours sitting at your computer trying to get your schoolwork done, but you never seem to get anything accomplished, RescueTime is what you need. This desktop application runs in the background, tracking everything you do on your computer, and delivers a report on how you're spending your time. The free version tracks the time you spend on websites and applications, lets you set goals and sends weekly reports. At $9 per month, the Premium version is pricey, but it adds the ability to track time away from your computer and lets you block websites that may be hampering your productivity. RescueTime won't write your next paper for you, but it can go a long way towards knowing what you need to get it done.


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