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Most Useful Apps to Get You through the Semester

            It seems like everyone has their go-to apps that helps keep their lives together, at least a little bit.  Whether it’s a special calendar that sends reminders, a period tracker, or Pandora to keep you sane, utility apps are definitely a perk innate to our generation.  These are some of my favorites and I hope you can use some to help make this semester easier and more productive!  


            So maybe I’m a nerd but this app is seriously my favorite of all time.  If I’m reading a book or doing homework, I can look up any word that I don’t recognize. Therefore, it’s a great way to build your vocabulary!  I’m also a huge fan of the Thesaurus feature that you can switch to from the traditional dictionary.  You can find a myriad of anecdotic synonyms to spice up whatever you’re writing and add variety!  Also… I get notifications every morning with the Word of the Day so if you want to start incorporating words like amphiboly, eristic, and haimish into your daily discourse, this is the app for you!


            It seems as though Waze has gained notoriety as far as GPS navigation apps are concerned, and rightfully so.  The “community-based” traffic app is updated by users in real time and boasts that they help everyone to save time and gas money on their commutes!  It works best in highly-populated areas (there are 57,691 “Wazers” in my area right now!) and I found it most useful on my trip to Los Angeles this past summer.  I also love that it warns you if there are cops, stopped vehicles, or red light cameras up ahead!  It’s the perfect app for commuters like me- it takes me a different route every morning depending on the traffic!

Blackboard Mobile Learn

            So I don’t know about you but I just found out that this app exists!  It only has one and a half stars as of now and I’ve heard that people experience some glitches but it’s been working great for me!  It can be a nuisance to log in on the computer and sometimes you’re not near one.  The app makes it so easy to check up on your classes and grades and especially keep up with those professors who post surprise assignments or discussions throughout the week!  Of course, this is only if your school and professor use Blackboard- most of my classes at SUNY Old Westbury have so far.


            The New York Times app is also one of my favorites.  I use other free mobile news apps such as BBC, Mic.com and The Skimm email newsletter, but I was encouraged to subscribe to the NYTimes by a professor.  They have student discount rates as well and it costs only one dollar per week!  I also allowed the alerts to be sent to my phone so I get updates by the minute about breaking news.  There are also daily and weekly “briefings” to give you a synopsis of what happened recently.  This day in age, it’s so crucial to be informed and in the know, and with our cell phones handy at all times, there is no excuse not to be!  Switch it up next time you’re meaninglessly scrolling through Instagram and read up on Donald Trump’s tax records or the war in Syria.  As we all know, intelligent conversation is sexy!


            TBH, how many times have you had to change your Apple ID and how much of a pain in the butt is it?  With 1Password, you can create a “vault” for all your log-in or Wi-Fi passwords as well as credit card and identification information.  It can also be used among families or professional teams like Her Campus chapters!  This is so useful for people like me (and probably every other college student) who have a million log-ins and can’t always put password to program.  The key, however, is to not forget the master password to get into the app…..


            As I get older and do more exploring, I’m finding that it really does make a difference to do your research before going to “eat, shop, drink, relax, or play,” all of which Yelp offers reviews on.  There’s nothing worse than going out, spending money, and getting less than killer service.  While I was on vacation this summer, I looked on Yelp first before booking Jet Ski rentals and it was the smartest decision I made the whole trip!  I read review after review about places that scammed customers, charged for non-existent damages, refused to give back credit cards- the horrors continued!  Thankfully, I found the perfect place, had a blast, and could rest assured knowing that I wasn’t going to be duped into any outrageous extra fees.


            Learning a new language seems to be on everyone’s bucket list but who actually sets out to do it?  We often talk about how sexy or romantic other languages are and it’s about time we just learn to speak them ourselves.  Like I mentioned before, we already have our phones on us at all times and they can actually be utilized for good once in a while.  There are so many free apps now where you can learn different languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Hebrew, Korean, and so many more!  Duolingo seems to have the best reviews and teaches through mini-games.  You can even challenge friends!  It’s like high school flashcards all over again, just on your phone.  I’m working to brush up on my Spanish so I can better communicate with my boyfriend’s family.  Talk about brownie points.



            FitBit is all the rage right now and if you aren’t screen-shotting and posting your steps for the day, just having it on your wrist proves to everyone that you are healthy and active!  I love going for runs and being able to track how many miles it’s been.  It can also monitor your sleep and wake you up peacefully with a silent alarm, helping to promote healthy sleeping habits!  The new Flex 2 even provides reminders to get moving. It is swim-proof, and has interchangeable accessories.  Then there’s the app which helps you meal plan, count calories, and set goals.  Ugh! Literally no excuses now ladies! #hercampusfit


            I don’t personally use Whatsapp but I’ve heard it is especially great for international communication.  It is a free messaging and phone call app that works off of WiFi instead of using your minutes and without any SMS charges.  You can personalize it with a profile picture, wallpapers, and emojis and you can send pictures, videos, and voice memos!  Other features include a “favorite” list and if you aren’t connected to WifFi you’ll get all the texts you missed while you were out.  My boyfriend has huge, fun group messages with his family in Ecuador and it’s an easy way to keep in contact with them despite distance.


            We’re lucky enough to live in a time where there’s no excuse not to vote because it’s so accessible to us!  Voteplz is an app that registers voters online (if possible in your state), mails you a registration form if necessary, and even grants absentee ballots if you’ll be out of the state or country on Election Day which, by the way, is November 8th!  You can also check your registration and send the link to friends to make sure they’re registered too, which enters you into awesome sweepstakes through Voteplz!  And ladies, download the app ASAP because the deadline to register in New York is October 14th!  It’s a crucial election year which we should all have our voices heard in and so many fought tirelessly for us to have this opportunity.  Could you imagine Susan B. Anthony found out there was a freakin’ voting APP today? *Mind blown* 


            So by sharing what apps work best for me and what I’ve heard the most about, I challenge you to switch from Snapchat and Instagram once in a while and use something that will push you to better yourself, learn something, and make a difference.  Social media and technology get a have bad reputation these days but they can also be used for good.  Get active this semester; physically, mentally, and politically.  Save money, save time, keep in touch, and be productive!

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Deirdre Bardolf

Old Westbury

"With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?" Student, 22. Long Island
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