How to Make the Most of Your iPad in College
When I blew all my babysitting money on an iPad this summer, I knew that I would use it for entertainment. I planned on cuddling up in bed watching Hulu and Netflix, finishing the Millenium series and checking up on my friends on Facebook and Twitter. What I mean to say is that I mistakenly thought of it in terms of entertainment and social networking, not education. I just had no idea an iPad would be so useful in college!
I am definitely one of those people who is obsessed with their tablet. A lot of people in my classes have asked me if an iPad is actually useful in college. I respond with an emphatic “yes!”. So email this article to your parents with the subject line “Why I want an iPad for Christmas”. Apple even lets you buy it with 12 months interest-free credit (so you could feasibly pay for it yourself).
How has the iPad affected my college career? 5 weeks into school, I’m basically glued to it. At this point it feels like an extension of my brain, which I know sounds kind of creepy but it is actually really awesome. Imagine college with no bulky backpacks, overstuffed binders or paper cuts. A great tablet like the iPad opens up a new world without wasted paper or heavy books.
To be clear, I don’t think an iPad can take the place of an actual computer. Though you could feasibly buy a word processor like Pages and write a 15-page term paper, it just doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. Some people might be able to do it, but I think writing large documents on the iPad is uncomfortable. A computer is also better for switching between screens and organizing your documents. On a personal note, using an iPad as a replacement for a simple notepad and a pen is silly. You don’t need an app to outline a paper or make a to-do list.
But there are so many things that a great tablet can help you do better. If you make the most of it, it can help you stay organized and be more productive. It is a great supplement to your college life.
- Before debating what to download from the app store, explore the great organizational apps that already come with it: Calendar, Contacts, Notes and Mail. These can all be synced to your Gmail account. Even though mail can be synced to other email accounts, I recommend setting up a Gmail account that automatically receives your email from other accounts. This easily can be done in settings. Once this is set up, all of this information is constantly synced to your other devices, including your iPod, iPhone and laptop. Amazing!
- On the subject of syncing, you should download a smart note-taker that you can access from your computer. Evernote is a great note-taking app that saves your virtual “notebooks” in a cloud. You can record live audio and view your notes on any computer or mobile device. This app is super user-friendly and best of all, free! As a PSA that may seem obvious to seasoned students, I have to mention that some classes aren’t suited for virtual note-taking. If you will be drawing diagrams or writing down a lot of equations, an iPad or computer will only slow you down. There are apps out there that let you “draw” on the tablet, but nothing is faster than pen and paper.
- If your major requires that you download a ton of scholarly articles, you should look into a PDF annotator. At $9.99, iAnnotate might be expensive for an app, but it is totally worth it if only for the satisfaction of never printing another article again! iAnnotate lets you to annotate literature in ways you couldn’t with a paper copy. This app makes it super easy to download and highlight pdfs. Instead of writing on the margins of an article, with this app you write notes that pop up when you click on them. It’s like pop-up video but more educational. I really love this app because it is practical and eco-friendly.
- When I registered for a class that required a $200 30-ton constitutional law book, I freaked for a second. Having blown all my money on an iPad, iAnnotate was the perfect solution. I borrowed the book from Course Reserves in the library, spent an hour scanning and emailing myself the required chapters while I listened to This American Life, and saved myself $200 plus chiropractor’s fees. While everyone else in the class dumps their gigantic books on their desks, I pull out my dainty e-reader and flip to the appropriate page. Awesome.
- A more obvious use of the Ipad, a lot of classes require books that are available in digital form. This is where iBooks and the Kindle app come into play. Though the romantics among us claim that e-readers cannot replicate the rich tactile edition of a bound book, e-books win hands-down when it comes to school. You can look up definitions right away, find specific words and phrases with the search bar and even highlight passages that are automatically compiled in a separate document. You save so much time by making a study guide while you read the book. These apps are free and the books generally cost less than they do at the book store. Furthermore, in a fantastically geek-chic development, public libraries around the country are starting to lend out e-books for free.
- Kno is one of several apps that allows you to purchase full textbooks and see them on your iPad. I don’t have any textbooks this year, so I haven’t personally used Kno. It has pretty good reviews and seems to have a good selection of textbooks. Please comment if you have used this app, does it have good features?
- Another useful app for getting your reading done is Instapaper Pro. This app lets you save articles for offline reading for $4.99. While you wouldn’t necessarily think of downloading this app, it is very practical. You can have constant access to articles and news posts you enjoy without having constant WiFi access.
- With all your reading out-of-the-way, you are going to need some apps that will have your back around midterms. The Apple store has some great Flashcard apps. They tend to be pretty user-friendly and cost between 3 to 5 dollars. Flash my Brain Flashcards and Cramberry are both pretty good.
- Lastly, don’t forget to build your vocabulary with Dictionary.com’s free app. Never be caught without a synonym again!
- I’m sure my iPad love is obvious at this point, but I’m still discovering new apps every day. I just downloaded Flipboard a couple of days ago. It is perfect for keeping up with my social networks and favorite magazines and blogs in one quick stop. Plus, the interface is amazing. It really feels like a magazine made just for me.
Now it is you turn, do you have any apps that you can’t live without? Or despite my raving reviews of the iPad, would you never trade in your paper and pencil college experience?