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The Best Back To School Apps

These Apps Are Top Of Their Class

So the time has come. You’ve had your long, lazy summer where you didn’t do that internship you were meant to or visit Thailand like you said you would. But hey, you watched every episode of Friends a couple of dozen times, so it wasn’t a total waste. But now you’ve got to hit those books, suck up to those teachers, and get back to fantasising about that cute Media Studies TA who you’ll never work up the courage to talk to. It’s back to school time, and since only suckers do anything offline these days here are a few essential apps to install so you can feel like you’re not completely unprepared.

Google Drive

This should be handed out at every school induction along with the ugly lanyards and leaflets on what a washing machine is. You don’t even need a word processer; you can type up everything you need in-app and Google Drive will save it all for you without you having to think about it. Then head to the library and print it off. No fussing around with emails or flash drives – nice and simple, like essays should be.

iTunes U

Yes, you should go to lectures. Yes, you should take comprehensive notes. But sometimes life, or what passes for life as a student, gets in the way, and you need a way to catch up on what exactly this ‘Civil War’ nonsense was. iTunes U brings together lectures from institutions as illustrious as Harvard and Cambridge, on every conceivable subject, all free to download. And having it on in the background while you play Super Smash Bros totally counts as studying.

Wolfram Alpha

Remember when your teacher made you learn the multiplication table because they said you wouldn’t always have a calculator in your pocket? And then you got a phone? Well Wolfram Alpha is a super calculator, able to answer pretty much any question on maths, physics, and chemistry as well as whole host of other areas. Show this to your GCSE science teacher and watch their self-esteem crumble.

Audio Memos

Listening is so 20th century. Showing your face in lectures is important, plus it’s the only way to get close to that gorgeous TA, but who can expect you to pay attention for a whole hour? Set Audio Memos running, then digest the information later at your leisure. It’s packed full of bells and whistles for sorting and searching your recordings, plus you can send files from straight to your computer over Wi-Fi.


This app has some decent competition in recent releases Microsoft OneNote and Google Now, but the original is still the best. It’s an indispensable tool for taking, organising, and searching your notes, as well as having handy add-ons like the ability to save the contents of a web page without having to copy and paste anything.


The best known video calling app has even greater potential when you get into an academic environment. Apart from calling home to sob at your mum about how the other kids are eating your granola, it’s also perfect for study groups: you can send messages and files to the group or individuals, and it’s easy to co-ordinate work. Or you can set your profile to invisible while everyone else does the work, if you’re one of those people.


Yeah, yeah. You shouldn’t use Wikipedia. You should go to the library and read books and all that. But sometimes you just need to know what year we conquered Wales, or whether George Eliot was a woman, and Wikipedia is frankly the largest single collection of knowledge amassed by humanity. Just remember: don’t reference Wikipedia, reference the stuff Wikipedia references.

My Class Schedule

It’s hard enough keeping track of which bars have happy hours at which times, let alone when your actual classes are. My Class Schedule is a nifty app for keeping track of lessons, homework, and other academic appointments. It even learns how long your classes are to make putting in new ones that much easier. Far better than an incomprehensible sheet of A4 pinned to your door.

Rate My Professors

Some teachers are great, some are really not. Before you pick your classes it’s always worth checking up on the professor’s reputation – they can make or break a term. Search for your school or for individuals, and you can tweet or post to their Facebook page to get the lowdown from other students.


You’re a student, it’s the 21st century. Have some fun. You’ve earned it.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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The Best Back To School Apps Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, August 28, 2014 Rating: 5
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