Ready for College? Download These Essential Apps First

Ready for College? Download These Essential Apps First

(Credit: Anastasiia Boriagina/Getty Images)

College means new challenges and new responsibilities. You might not feel prepared to handle them, and the truth is, you’re going to need some help. That should come from trusted people in your life and the resources offered by your school. But there’s also a whole world of guidance in the palm of your hand.

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide of apps designed to help you with some of the biggest things you’ll have to face in your four (or more, we’re not judging) years of school. They’re clutch, whether you’re trying to manage your money, space, time, or mind.



male student holding notebook and smiling in front of building with other students sitting on steps in background

(Credit: Halfpoint Images/Getty Images)

Office 365 Education Image

Two certainties of college are that you’ll be writing papers and giving presentations. Office 365 Education can help: It offers Word for writing, Excel for plotting things out, PowerPoint for presenting, OneNote for organizing, and Microsoft Teams to coordinate with classmates. It’s also free for college students. You can sign up and then download the app (AndroidiOS). Another option is Office on the web, which offers free standard editing and formatting commands and some additional features for Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and more.

Google Drive Image

Though Google ditched free unlimited storage for its productivity apps, you still get 15GB across your Google account, which is a lot of Docs and Sheets. Access files on the PC and via Google’s mobile apps (AndroidiOS); changes sync across devices. (Here’s how to get started with Docs.)


Wyzant Image

Sometimes you can study as much as you want but still not grasp a concept or even an entire class. Before you despair, try tutoring. There are lots of online options, such as Wyzant (AndroidiOS), which has an app that lets you find and book a tutor.

Grammarly Keyboard Image

Good communication skills can save you from so many problems in life. Good grammar can do nearly as much when you’re in college. Whether you’re submitting a paper, writing an email to a professor, or applying for a job, make sure your words are free from error. If you’ve got Grammarly on your laptop, it’s a smart idea to also put it on your smartphone. Grammarly Keyboard (AndroidiOS) works with your other apps to check for spelling mistakes and keep your grammar on point. Flashcards Image

Flashcards are a very effective way to study. in a new window) has a database of millions and an easy-to-use feature for making your own. Take or create your flashcards on the go with the site’s app (AndroidiOS), which also lets you review your cards in four different modes—including game mode—to maximize your memorization.


sunny dorm room with bed by window and desk in foreground

(Credit: Elliott Kaufman/Getty Images)

AR feature on Target app with chair

Everyone’s favorite mega-chainstore has an AR app that lets you see how furniture and other decor will look in your room. Browse home items on the Target app (Android(Opens in a new window), iOS(Opens in a new window)), and look for the AR symbol. Tap it, and you can fit the piece into your room and even move it around.

Facebook Marketplace Image

If you’re living in campus housing, you likely have a furnished room. But if you need more storage or have an off-campus apartment, you’ll have to shop for some furniture. Avoid couches or dressers left on street corners. Open Facebook (AndroidiOS), and go to the Marketplace section, where you can find low-cost or even free options. Just be sure to take a friend or meet in a public place when you’re picking up your purchase.

Chairish Image

When you want something a little more upscale but still affordable, Chairish(Opens in a new window) (AndroidiOS) offers lots of stylish vintage pieces that are looking for new homes. You can find furniture, accessories, and art at reasonable prices; just sort from high to low when you search.


two women sitting on a bench with shopping bags and coffee and a phone

(Credit: RgStudio/Getty Images)

Unidays Image

College students love discounts, and brands love college students. This mutually beneficial relationship is reflected in Unidays(Opens in a new window) (AndroidiOS), which directs you to online and in-store discounts on clothing, shoes, food, tech, travel, and events.

Student Beans Image

Whether you’re living on beans or not, you’re going to want to take advantage of all the discounts you’ll find on Student Beans (AndroidiOS). These include restaurant discounts in addition to in-store and online shopping, as well as some exclusive offers.

RetailMeNot Image

Whether you’re shopping online or browsing in a store, RetailMeNot (AndroidiOS) is a great companion. The app offers discounts in over 35 categories, including travel and food. Visit the site itself for a list of discounts for college students(Opens in a new window).

(Disclosure: RetailMeNot is owned by PCMag parent company Ziff Davis.)

ShopSavvy Image

When you’re standing in a store and holding a product in your hand, you might wonder if you should buy it right away or check whether you can get it for less elsewhere. One scan with ShopSavvy (AndroidiOS) tells you. Plenty of other apps also let you check prices.

GasBuddy Image

Gas is expensive, but when you’re in a new place and don’t know what other stations are around or how much they’re charging, you’re at the mercy of the closest gas station. With GasBuddy(Opens in a new window) (AndroidiOS), you can check local prices and sign up for savings.


two women on sofa watching TV

(Credit: David Prado/Getty Images)

Amazon Prime Student Image

Netflix doesn’t offer a student discount, so if you want to spend your streaming dollars more wisely, go with Amazon Prime Student, which includes perks such as Prime Video (AndroidiOS). You’ll get new shows and movies every month for just $69 a year (Prime is normally $139 a year), as well as access to over a thousand books, comics, and magazines on Kindle (AndroidiOS) and over 2 million songs on Amazon Music Prime (AndroidiOS).

Spotify (and Hulu and Showtime) Image

Spotify (and Hulu and Showtime)

Spotify Premium gets rid of those annoying ads, but Spotify Premium Student(Opens in a new window) adds subscriptions to Hulu (with ads) and Showtime for $4.99 a month. The deal is for 12 consecutive months of Spotify (AndroidiOS), but you can renew it three times.


three friends eating burgers

(Credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images)

Share Meals Image

Those who live on campus are often required to subscribe to a meal plan, particularly in the first year. Those points often go to waste, since you won’t often eat three meals every day in a dining hall. You can send your points to a food-insecure student who needs them with Share Meals (AndroidiOS) and also post notices about leftover food from club events.

Grubhub Campus Dining Image

If you don’t want to cook, you can take advantage of Seamless, DoorDash, or any other food-delivery app. But Grubhub(Opens in a new window) (AndroidiOS) has a campus dining option that lets you order and pay ahead to pick up food fast from on-campus restaurants. You can even pay with your campus card.

Getting Around

woman standing in front of train

(Credit: Erica Shires/Getty Images)

Citymapper Image

Figuring out how to get from point A to point B and then to points C and D could be harder than a calculus assignment. In a new town, you need Citymapper (AndroidiOS) to figure out public transportation. It maps out routes, shows you service disruptions, lets you find bike shares and scooters, and connects to rideshare options.

Waze Image

For those who are driving from place to place in a new place, there’s Waze (AndroidiOS). You won’t be alone on the road, with other Wazers reporting traffic, hazards, and police activity. The app has lots of other features, including alerting you when you should leave to get to your destination on time. Since Waze is owned by Google, many of its features have been incorporated into Google Maps, another helpful app (Android(Opens in a new window)iOS(Opens in a new window)) to have on hand (here are our top tips).

Health and Wellness

woman meditating in front of sofa in apartment

(Credit: COROIMAGE/Getty Images)

Fooducate Image

Put aside panic about the “freshman 15,” and focus on feeling healthy. Fooducate(Opens in a new window) (AndroidiOS) lets you track what you eat and rates the quality of what you’re putting into your body. It also suggests healthy substitutes.

Headspace Student Plan Image

Sometimes you just need to still your mind. Headspace (AndroidiOS) is much more than a meditation app. It has full meditation courses for all sorts of life situations, multiple methods to help you sleep, workouts that include cardio and yoga, and focus music playlists from world-renowned artists. Normally $69.99 per year, Headspace is only $9.99(Opens in a new window) for a student plan.

Noonlight Image

Campuses and their surrounding areas can sometimes be dangerous places. Stay safe by using Noonlight (AndroidiOS), which can silently send for help. It’s one of a few apps and gadgets that are useful campus companions.

Peloton App For Students Image

You can use the Peloton app (AndroidiOS) with (or without) your school’s gym facilities. It’s filled with on-demand cycling, running, bootcamp, stretching, strength, cardio, and yoga classes. Students qualify for a half-price subscription(Opens in a new window) that’s $6.99 per month.

Doctor on Demand Image

Sometimes a health issue crops up at an inconvenient time. If it’s not something that requires urgent, in-person attention, you can turn to Doctor on Demand (AndroidiOS), which puts you in immediate touch with medical professionals.


Acorns Image

If meme stocks aren’t your thing, take up investing with Acorns (AndroidiOS). The app, free for college students, rounds up your purchases and invests the extra money for you. Over 12,000 brands partner with Acorns, so you can add to your account any time you shop with them.

MSRP $1.00

Digit Image

You might think it’s impossible to save money when you’re spending so much on school. But Digit (AndroidiOS) examines your spending every month and stashes away any extra cash. You can create goals, such as saving to pay off your student loans or to rent your first apartment.

Snagajob Image

Whether you want some extra cash or need a job to pay for classes, Snagajob (AndroidiOS) is the go-to app for part-time employment. Fill in the profile once, and use it to apply to jobs in a click. In some cities, you can use Shifts by Snagajob (AndroidiOS) to pick up shifts in retail stores and restaurants.

Venmo Image

College means lots of shared expenses, but money is an uncomfortable topic, particularly among friends. Venmo (AndroidiOS) makes it easy to split payments and pay people back.

Time Management

overhead shot of two women on their laptops

(Credit: Luis Baneres/Getty Images)

Coursicle Image

There should be a course in putting together a class schedule that works each semester. The complicated procedure is made easier with Coursicle (AndroidiOS), which lets you map out your classes and notifies you when a spot in a previously full class opens up.

Todoist Image

You have an endless list of things to get done when you’re in college. Keep track with Todoist(Opens in a new window) (AndroidiOS), one of our favorite to-do list apps. It lets you be hyper-organized, is super easy to use, and integrates with and syncs across all your devices. It’s free, but you can upgrade for more features.

Transitioning to the Real World Image

After you’ve figured out where you’re going to live after college, you need to find an actual home. in a new window) (AndroidiOS) has a huge database of available places and lots of ways to search. It also lets you figure out how much time your commute will take. If you’re eyeing the Big Apple, Zillow’s Street Easy (AndroidiOS) is a popular way to snag a New York City abode.

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