Freshman 101: Seven Inexpensive Tech Tools to Help Students Tame Their Time

Each year, I host panels of current college students that provide advice and answer questions for incoming freshmen. Without exception, the number one piece of advice the college students give- from average students to uber achievers- is learning effective time management.

Freshmen often struggle to navigate new-found freedom (they’re only in class 15 hours a week), increased workloads, academic rigor, and extracurricular activities. Used effectively, technology can enhance their ability to manage time and build a more balanced college experience. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it has quite a few of my favorites.

  1. Scheduling and Organization: Apps like Google Calendar and iCal help students keep track of classes, assignments, and events. This organization ensures they never miss important deadlines and can allocate sufficient time for studying and leisure. The most successful users color code their calendars so they can quickly distinguish between class assignments, work, and social events.
  2. Study Efficiency: Quizlet is an app that allows students to create and share decks of flashcards. Chegg Homework offers solutions and tutoring with plans starting at $14.95/month, providing freshmen with step-by-step homework help and expert Q&A. They help students cover more material in less time and grasp concepts better.
  3. Collaboration: Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage, with additional space starting at $1.99/month, providing freshmen a way to store and share documents, presentations, and assignments which can make group projects easier and more organized. Microsoft 365 facilitates easy collaboration on group projects and assignments, enabling students to work together seamlessly. Many colleges include subscriptions for their students at no additional cost
  4. Communication: GroupMe Campus is a free app for college students to connect with groups, clubs, and classmates, as well as find new friends. This can help freshmen find their tribe or stay in touch with the classmates working on a group project.
  5. Financial Management: Venmo and CashApp help students manage their finances and split expenses which allows them to focus on academic and social activities.
  6. Stress Management and Well-being: Calm can support mental health and help students manage stress by providing relaxation and mindfulness tools.
  7. Skill Development: Tools like Grammarly and Canva aid in developing essential skills such as writing and design, which are valuable for both academic projects and future career opportunities.

Of course, parents frequently get annoyed by the amount of time students spend with their screens. But technology is a tool which can be used for good- or abused. These recommend apps and websites will help freshman manage their time, balance their academic and social lives, and reduce stress which gives them the best chance at first-year success.

P.S. This summer is the perfect time to try them out- before they need them.

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