BY BRANDON JARMAN
Technology can enhance your college experience by improving how you study and organize. There’s an endless list of gadgets, apps, and hacks to help — many you’ve never considered. For example, if you’re a visual learner, watch documentaries when researching a history paper. Or get an alarm clock that forces you to take a picture of something before it shuts off. That actually exists. And so do these other technologies. Use them to help make college more than you expected.
Recycle those tree-killing notebook planners from high school. Instead, go digital with an online student planner. Shrinking your carbon footprint is only a bonus. Use digital planners to sync schedules and notifications across mobile, laptop, and desktop. Track assignments, classes, and upcoming homework wherever you are — studying at the library or socializing at the football tailgate.
Use project management systems like Trello (a.k.a.Kanban boards) to take your class assignments to the next level. Trello boards are highly-visual, easy-to-use. Businesses use them all the time to manage their many projects, and you can too. Trello boards to keep track of large and small class assignments — like individual assignments — or share your boards with other students and professions for larger, collaborative projects.
Trello boards let you know at-a-glance where you’re at in each step of the process. Assign your projects a due date. Then create all the steps in your process (e.g. “Outline”, “First Draft”, “Review”, Second Draft”, etc.). As you progress, move your assignment cards forward after you’ve completed each step.
Nothing affects your college experience more than a roommate. Their sleep schedule, dietary habits, and study hours can keep you awake, hungry, and distracted. But they do pay their half of the rent…usually. So, be careful when choosing your house or dorm mate. Use a roommate matching software like RoomSync to find the perfect match. Use them to create customized questionnaires to match your lifestyle, schedules, or language.
College classes bring a plethora of dates, times, facts, ideas, and other things to remember. Note taking apps can help relieve the stress of remembering. Don’t try and remember everything. Instead, get it out of your head and record it somewhere in the cloud. Then, you can access your notes and reminders from any device. That’s how you remember things, whether it’s your mom’s birthday or the date of the Battle of Hastings.
Technology simplifies studying by making it customizable and accessible. Most traditional study resources like CliffsNotes have moved online. And study aids like flashcards are now completely customizable. Plus, there are now online study platforms for entire communities of students. These new platforms crowd-source resources like guides, notes, and quizzes. And they offer many study support from other students. They’re a valuable support system for students now solely responsible for their academics.
Having trouble in your Composition 101 class? Today’s writing tech can help. We’re all used to seeing those red, underlined squiggles that tell us we’ve misspelled a word. But writing apps like the Hemingway Editor keeps an eye out for larger issues. It monitors for passive voice, run-on sentences, and weak adverbs. You know… those issues that annoy your high school English teacher. Use Hemingway Editor to edit your own work. Or use it for peer review projects. It saves times by identifying problem areas for your writing partner too.
Use technology to make your class projects look more professional and impressive. Microsoft’s presentation platform Sway lets you create and present slick, cinematic presentations. These include books reports, portfolios, and online resumes. Sway has a robust library of premade templates and Creative Commons images. No more Google image searches and author attributions. The design app is free to use and comes with a Microsoft Office 365 subscription.
Students can use technology to enhance their college experience, but only if they don’t rely too much on it. Addiction to technology is real. And it contributes negative experiences, especially for your social interactions. So be responsible with your tech use.
Texts and emails won’t teach you all the social skills face-to-face socializing does. These interpersonal skills are valuable for more than finding a significant other. They’re essential to starting and maintaining your career. While in school, you’ll need to practice conversing with teachers, students, and faculty. Social practice forms the interpersonal skills and networks you need for your career. So, while technology can enhance your educational experience, don’t let it counteract the moments that make college so memorable.
Brandon Jarman is a freelance writer based out of Salt Lake City. He is passionate about all things technology, education, and personal finance. When he’s not writing, he enjoys spending time with his family and hiking.