7 Must-Have Apps for College Students

Surviving and thriving in college doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the help of the right digital tools, you can streamline your study process, collaborate easier, digitize and manage documents, clarify complex concepts, tackle tough calculations, and even stay focused amid distractions. In this guide, we’ve handpicked must-have apps that will not only simplify your academic life but also make you more efficient so you get the most out of college. Read on to learn what apps you need to use.


Notion is a freemium app designed to enhance productivity, especially beneficial for college students grappling with multiple tasks at any given moment. At its core, Notion functions as an all-in-one workspace where you can write, plan, collaborate, and get organized. Imagine combining the best parts of a note-taking app, a task manager, a spreadsheet, and a calendar. That’s Notion.

There is a slightly steep learning curve but when you get the hang of it, Notion is a powerful tool to help you through college. Here is what one student said about Notion:

“This app has taken over my life as I spend a big part of my day working in Notion. I can organize my entire life in my space and keep notes from classes and life, I can keep a detailed reading list, I keep ideas and random thoughts organized in here, there’s almost a limitless amount of things you can do with Notion.”

person sitting front of laptop

Google Workspace Apps

Using Google Workspace apps is a no-brainer. This includes Google Docs, Sheets, and Drive and is a cloud-based toolkit ideal for college students. Google Docs lets you write and edit documents (think term papers or research essays). Google Sheets is perfect for organizing data or manipulating data by doing simple math all the way to modeling economics. All your work from Docs and Sheets can be stored in Google Drive, a cloud storage solution, allowing you to access your materials anytime, anywhere. All these apps have collaboration built in and it’s all for free.

Flashcard Apps

Flashcard apps offer a powerful way for students to study and review material. These apps break down information into bite-sized pieces, making it easier to learn and remember.

The process of creating flashcards itself is a valuable studying method as it requires active engagement and promotes understanding. For example, not every economics class across universities is the same. So even though there are many sets of flashcards on the web for studying econ, it might be beneficial for you to make your own.

Flashcard apps also utilize spaced repetition, reminding students to review cards at optimal time intervals for better and more efficient memorization. This is something physical flashcards can’t do very well.

If you’re already using something like Google Sheets for college, the best flashcard app that works with Google Sheets is Flashcard Lab. It also has a spaced repetition study mode that is much simpler to use compared to Anki.

There are a million flashcard apps on the web to choose from. Refer to this blog post to compare some of the best and choose one that works for you.


This one is another no-brainer and if you’re not using ChatGPT to learn in college, you’re probably falling behind.

ChatGPT can be a college student’s reliable study partner, ready to help at any time with endless patience and can clarify complex academic concepts in simple, easy-to-understand language.

When prompting, use phrases like “Act as an expert to explain…” and “explain it like I’m five” to help ChatGPT better explain concepts to you.

The best thing about ChatGPT is that it doesn’t tire or get impatient, so you can ask the same question as many times as you need until you understand the concept fully. Its ability to provide immediate, personalized responses makes it an excellent tool for reinforcing learning and aiding comprehension, especially when studying alone or outside of normal teaching hours.

Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha, a computational knowledge engine, is a powerful study aid for college students. Ideal for tackling homework or test prep, especially in math and science, it solves complex problems and even provides step-by-step solutions.

It not only helps you find answers but also lets you understand the process behind them. With Wolfram Alpha, mastering tough subjects and solving intricate problems becomes much easier.

For example, you can ask it to do a math word problem like “Rachel has 17 apples. She gives 9 to Sarah. How many apples does Rachel have now?” Or you can ask it a physics question to calculate the amount of energy in a reaction like this: “Joule’s law u=3V, R=1ohm for 10s”. Check out some more examples here.

Adobe Scan

Adobe Scan can be a handy tool for college students dealing with a mix of digital and physical resources. This mobile app allows you to transform physical documents, notes, or even images into high-quality PDFs with your smartphone camera.

Instead of carrying around piles of paper notes or risk losing important handouts, you can conveniently scan and store them electronically. Digitizing your notes not only reduces clutter but also makes your study material searchable, easily accessible, and shareable. It also enables you to annotate or highlight directly on the PDFs, facilitating active engagement with the material. This app is also free.


Forest is a unique and free productivity app designed to help students stay focused while studying or doing homework. Its concept is simple yet effective: you plant a virtual tree when you start a task, and it grows as long as you stay on task.

However, if you exit the app to use your phone for something else, the tree dies. This visual representation of your focus time creates a sense of achievement and deters you from getting distracted by your phone. You can also set study sessions for specific lengths, encouraging you to work diligently during that time. The more you focus, the more trees you grow, creating a visual representation of your productivity over time.

As a plus, if you purchase the premium version, Forest will plant an actual tree with the purchase so you’ll be supporting a great cause as well as improving your grades.

Wrapping up

Navigating college life can feel overwhelming, but with the right apps, you can streamline your academic journey and make it more manageable. Whether it’s enhancing productivity, simplifying collaboration, improving study techniques, or clarifying complex concepts, these seven must-have apps can truly redefine your college experience. So, go ahead and give these apps a try and get ready to conquer your college years with confidence!