Gear Up for College With These Essential Virtual Tools
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As you gather your back-to-school essentials and prepare to start your freshman year of college, your virtual backpack is one item that should make your list.
In this increasingly digital age, there is a plethora of networks, platforms and tools aimed squarely at college students – one of the most information-hungry demographics. Not all tools are created equal, of course. Certain programs are easier to use, possess better integration across multiple platforms or offer more useful features with a premium subscription.
The following tips are your guide to a selection of the best applications and online tools for your virtual college backpack to help you study smarter from the moment you arrive on campus.
The options available fall into three general categories: productivity applications that enhance your capabilities, collaborative communities and non-interactive Internet databases. There is, of course, crossover among the three types. Your ideal resources will vary according to your needs, the physical tools at your disposal and your style of learning.
1. Applications for taking notes:
Your foremost goal in college will be to learn as much as possible while in your classes. With the rise of PowerPoint presentations, many professors distribute electronic copies of their lectures in advance of class. Consider locating an app for a tablet, smartphone or computer that facilitates note-taking directly within the PowerPoint file or allows you to import files.
For Apple products, a great option is NoteSuite. Students can download a PowerPoint presentation and take notes with an in-app keyboard or a freehand stylus. There is also an option to record key portions of a lecture. Best of all, the app will automatically sync your notes with your other iCloud-enabled devices.For Android users, Evernote is the leader in regards of the sheer number of downloads. Evernote uses a proprietary system to sync among devices.
Since Evernote is available for Android, iOS, Windows and even Blackberry, it is a great program for students who wish to share information on more than one operating system. Note Anytime also has many devoted adherents.
2. Making citations: College papers require citations. Although library books are still valuable resources, upper-level courses will require primary literature like journal articles.
Entering the information for each source is labor intensive, and reformatting a citation to suit a different class is extremely aggravating. Zotero simplifies your citation process by generating source entries in the appropriate format.
3. Time management: No discussion of electronic resources would be complete without a warning about the many distractions of the online world.
You can track how you spend your time online with RescueTime, a browser add-on that monitors where you visit and how long you remain there. When Monday arrives and you are wondering where your weekend went, this app just may have your answer.
4. Collaborative learning: Once you have maximized your note-taking routine, it is time to search online for additional assistance.
The website eNotes offers both written study guides on a vast array of topics, as well as Homework Help. The service, which allows students to post questions, is likely to have a subject matter expert, or fellow student, available to answer your questions.
5. Online databases:
When your notes and textbook are insufficient, there is a wealth of outside resources to turn to. One website is Knowmia, which offers video lessons. You can also create custom playlists for later review.
Other websites, such as SparkNotes, host essays and study guides on a wide variety of topics. The quality is generally acceptable, but like Wikipedia, SparkNotes would not be acceptable as a source in most classes. It does, however, provide a perspective on many classic texts and subject areas.
Last Updated June 13, 2018