free great ios apps college student

4 Great Free Apps that Helped Me Survive College

I think the best gift I gave myself was an iPad 2, when I was a freshman in university back in 2011. After getting an iPad, I spent almost every waking minute with it by my side. Whether it was during lectures, or those long nights of studying in the library, my iPad 2 was an indispensable tool.

Apart from the usual social media apps (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…to name a few), there were 4 main apps that basically helped me survive the 3 years of undergraduate life in university. 


goodnotes app icon1. GoodNotes – S$10.98

On the top of that list is GoodNotes, now in its 4th edition. When I got it 5 years ago, it was still pretty much in its app “infancy”. Now it has been upgraded with so many awesome features I think the 5 years ago me is very, very jealous.

Before every lecture I would load up the notes from the professor into the app on my iPad, and make annotations on the file as the lecture progresses. As with all note-taking apps, you can make various types of annotations – including handwriting, text, highlighting etc. What I like is the ability to add photos in the middle of the pdf file, which allows me to quickly snap a photo of a slide that wasn’t included in the original lecture notes and add it in. No hassle, and no need to copy everything down furiously.

You can also organise the notes into Master Categories and Categories, making the search for the notes for different modules very easy. It will also back up automatically to your cloud of choice (for me it’s Dropbox), so I could read the notes on my Mac when I get back to my room to review them.

It may be a tad expensive at $10, but I assure you it is definitely worth the investment. I’ve tried other note taking apps prior to this, and once I discovered GoodNotes I never looked back. Because of this I printed 0 sets of lecture notes or readings!! #gogreen #savetheplanet

I didn’t have to lug around files and files of paper notes when I’m out for a study session, or worry about forgetting a chapter, because I have everything with me in my trusty iPad!

dropbox app ios

2. Dropbox – FREE or $99/yr

Once my friend told me “My whole life is on Dropbox”. Everything now belongs to the Cloud, I really wonder how we survived without it all those years back! Now that we all have multiple devices – computer, smartphone, tablet – access to all the files on all our devices is ESSENTIAL. It is really so convenient to be able to read the notes and everything on all of your devices!
Of course we don’t only use it for backing up of study notes, I got my phone to do automatic camera uploads as well, so every single photo that my phone had ever snapped since 2011 are all safely captured in Dropbox.
You should however take note of the amount of files you’re uploading though, as it might exceed the size limit. There are ways to get over this though. You could either sign up for the Pro plan (1TB storage), or check out the various ways to extra storage space on Dropbox for free! Of those listed in the official website, the best way is to refer more people to join Dropbox.

evernote app itunes

3. Evernote – FREE or $32/yr

Another common choice, but trust me…Evernote is really great! Especially to take notes for group meetings, or for setting targets, composing lists, or setting reminders.

Now that I’m working, I use Evernote in the office on a daily basis. Again, the ability to sync the notes across different devices allows me to take notes on my iPhone on the go, then edit it for sharing to my boss and colleagues. This is especially helpful for me, since I am always in the wards doing observation work.

Sadly Evernote recently changed their pricing plans, which limits Free users to sync the notes across only 2 devices. How is that enough! Including my work PC laptop, I have 4 devices! Deciding which devices to keep was a really tough choice…I went with my work PC and iPhone in the end. I guess I’ll just have to make do with the web version for the other “unchosen” devices.

spotify app ios

4. Spotify – FREE or $13/mth

Thanks to Spotify, a study session was never mundane (?)

Some people may prefer to study in complete silence, but I can’t do without music! For the ability to explore and discover music of all genres, I’m happy to listen to the ads :). Can’t help it if I’m a poor university student!


I use all these 4 apps on my iPad so much that I’m surprised that it didn’t explode on me! I predict I’ll be pushing my iPad mini to the limit when I enter med school next February 😛

What are your favourite apps?

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