How to Use an iPad for Your College Classes

When I first started college, I was excited to escape the rigid ways of my high school and be able to incorporate technology into my study habits. That process, however, wasn’t as easy as I had been led to believe. I struggled with finding a way to find the compromise between the benefits that handwriting provided and the ease which technology added to the college experience. In the end, I found my routine using an iPad and Apple Pencil, and found quite a few benefits along the way. Hopefully, my experience can make your college journey to incorporating technology a little bit easier.

The app that I use, Notability, allows me to sort all of my notes into folders for my classes. All of these folders and notes backup to iCloud, making sure I never lose anything for my classes, and that I can access them from my phone as well. The share button that you see in the top left-hand corner of all of these screenshots allows notes to be shared as PDFs, meaning when I had a friend who missed class, I could simply text her a PDF of the day’s notes. 

When handwriting notes, Notability has a feature which enlarges a portion of the screen to make writing smoother. The blue bar you see on the far right is shifts the box down the page and then to the next line as you write. This means that you never need to stop writing to shift the page over!

The bar on the right allows you to scroll through all the pages in a note and bookmark any necessary information. This helps quite a bit with jumping between chapters and finding key points and diagrams. As you can see in the above photo, a wide range of colors are available, and there are many styles of paper to choose from for each notebook. The maps that are featured in this note from my history class were simply dragged and dropped straight from my textbook when in split screen mode! Having all of the maps I needed in my notes saved me from having to refer back to my textbook again and again in class.

Splitscreen is one of the most useful tools for studying. My purchased ebooks could be placed on either side of the screen with my notes on the other. This gave me the opportunity to both see what I was reading and the notes I was taking, all while still having everything fit on those tiny college classroom desks. Plus, an added perk of the ebooks was not having to lug them around and always having them available for spontaneous study dates. 

There are a few disadvantages that do surround using an iPad for school that you should be aware of. Firstly, you need to have a compatible e-printer to be able to print. And while downloading my PDFs from Canvas and Blackboard was a breeze, uploading PDFs for submission was not. Depending on the online platform that your university uses, there may be some features of the site that don’t transfer over as they would to a desktop device. That being said, there are apps that are quite convenient to use for accessing both Blackboard and Canvas.

From an affordability standpoint, the iPad and Apple Pencil is not too bad a way to go. Buying the two will set you back just under $600 if you chose the newest models. In comparison to a traditional laptop, this is pretty comparable and is much cheaper than buying the newest models of most brands of laptops. Additionally, a key point that should be factored in is the size in relation to a traditional laptop. I have enjoyed how much less bulk there is when compared to my old MacBook. 

Hopefully, some of the information I have provided will aid you on your journey to incorporating technology into your college experience. You get the educational benefits of handwriting notes while experiencing the perks that come with technology in the classroom. But keep in mind, what works for me might not work for everyone, so create whatever style works best for your and your educational needs!