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It’s safe to admit that high school and college students alike have reached a point where we wouldn’t pretend to be able to live without our smartphones anymore. That being said, we might not be depending on them to our fullest potential. Here’s a list of indispensable apps that will save your life in college but will probably prove useful even sooner.




Whenever I come home from college I have to deal with my friends wanting actual cash payments for stuff rather than me “Venmoing” them, I have to do a double take. (Admittedly, “Venmoing” is a weird-sounding verb.) But Venmo is so useful. It’s just a simple, quick, and easy way to transfer money.

Countless times, I haven’t had cash on me, so my friends have paid for me at a pizza place or a cafe and I’ve literally paid them back with Venmo while standing in line with them. It’s a quick, hassle-free way to stay on top of all your bills and IOUs. And if you live with people who split bills often, it’s a lifesaver. And if you have siblings or friends that are gold-diggers like my brother and charge you a few bucks for each proofread admissions essay, it’s good for that, too.




Spotify is a gift from God. I could leave it at that but I’ll continue. This is an app that can be really useful both in high school and college (and forever and ever). I actually made a Spotify playlist specifically for receiving acceptance and rejection letters.

Then, once I got into college, I started using Spotify premium because college students can get it for half price ($4.99/month). It makes the walk to class fun (anything is fun with a soundtrack) and with Premium I don’t need WiFi or cellular data to listen to my music. Use this app to fuel study sessions, last-minute dashes for the lecture hall, and quiet walks through campus. Oh, and parties.




This app is free and hooks up to your Amazon account. You can load the Kindle books you’ve already bought onto your phone through this app and read them there. There are plenty of free Kindle eBooks that I’ve downloaded both for leisure reading and for class.

Hint: If you’re taking AP English this year, look for your books either cheap or for free on Kindle and then read them on your phone from this app. This is especially useful since the new iPhones are working hard to make their screens friendlier.

Google Drive (and Co.: Sheets, Docs)



It might sound like a lie or an exaggeration, but I literally wrote a paper on my phone my freshman year of college. My computer was broken and I didn’t have time to go to the library, so I pulled out my phone and opened Google Docs and drafted my paper while riding the bus to an event.

Having these apps also makes it handy for when you receive an email while you’re out and about and you need to view an attachment; if you know you’ll just need to make some quick edits on a piece during the day, they can save you the trouble of lugging your computer around (it gets heavy); and for high school students, especially athletes, it can give you access to your homework even when you’re too busy.




It’s a close call as to whether Starbucks is more essential in high school or college (although not all high schoolers have access to one and most college students do). Now, regardless of your opinion on Starbucks, they have a great rewards program and they offer free WiFi. You will find yourself there at least once. And when you do it’ll be nice to know that you can earn a free first drink (under some circumstances) or a free drink on your birthday.

Perhaps most importantly for patrons of any age, high school or college, the Starbucks app teaches you how to play the system. I used my phone to access a Starbucks gift card someone had sent to me via email months ago, and I haven’t put a cent of my own into the app except when I’m there spending money anyway. Have no shame in using Starbucks (and its app) to save a few bucks.




Filxster is a great tool when it comes to entertainment, and it also helps if you ever take a film class. In application season, it’s great for finding a movie to unwind with after a long essay-writing session. (And if you’re writing an application for film school, you can even organize your preferred films here.) If you’re deciding which movie to see on a Friday night, Flixster offers a detailed synopsis of popular movies as well as many obscure indie films and also includes cast and crew credits and the Rotten Tomatoes score for each one.

You can also review movies, add them to your Watched or Want To See collections, and browse the reviews your friends (or random people) have given of the movies you want to see. It also sorts movies by what’s currently in theaters, what’s coming to theaters soon, what’s coming out on DVD and even what’s coming to Netflix. (Oh, download Netflix, too.)

Flixster also has a small selection of news items and buzz from Hollywood, centered around certain actors and movies, box office events, and more. It’s an app that I’ve used as many times in film class as I have sitting at home in front of my computer trying to decide what to see on Netflix (which is what college – and high school – and life – is all about).




Katniss Everdeen should have been called Katniss Evernote, because this app is on target. If there was a Hunger Games for being productive (hint: there is, and it’s called college) and creative and keeping your life together in an enjoyable rather than agonizing way, Evernote would win.

I’ve gone through too many notebook/to-do list apps to count, and Evernote is the only one that’s stuck. It syncs across devices, boasts a smooth, stylish, and satisfying user interface, and can be used for anything from journaling to staying organized to taking notes in class. It will help keep you sane throughout the college admissions process and ever farther beyond. (Yes, you can also use it to keep track of – surprisingly difficult – puns based on the word “ever.”)

Sarah Chandler

Sarah Chandler is a junior at Cornell University studying Performing and Media Arts and Psychology.As much as she loves writing for CollegeVine, she'd rather be astral projecting or watching The Office. She has too much fun writing bios like these for her own good.