5 Free Apps College Students Need for a Better Semester

We’ve all heard it – “there’s an app for that!” It seems no matter the aspect of our life, there is at least one app that has been developed to try and assist with it – so naturally, there are thousands of apps available for assisting the life of a college student. Here’re a handful that you should consider making room for on your homescreen this semester!

four people sitting in a row in chairs, all on their cellphone

With the spring semester just around the corner, we’re all looking for ways to set ourselves up for success this semester, whether it’s your first semester as a college student, returning, or if you’re like me and you’re in your last semester before graduation (woohoo!).

Tons of apps have been created to make students’ lives a little easier, and I’ve compiled a list of the best free options that will prepare students to have a productive, organized, and studious rest of the school year. So, take a deep breath, clear some storage, open your app store, and keep reading for five of the best apps you could use for a better semester.

young man wearing headphones while looking at his phone

Productivity Apps

Notion (Available on IOS, Android, Mac, and Windows)

As someone who has bought many physical planners and ditched them after only a couple of months of use, Notion saved my fall semester. Notion is a productivity app that is an “all in one” personalized digital workspace. You can customize and organize your workspace in any way you want, and you can keep it all—task lists, calendar, class assignments, work schedule—in one place without it looking and becoming overwhelmingly cluttered. Each thing you add is just a rearrangeable building block to the next thing you’ll add!

The app is a bit DIY, and it can be overwhelming at first, but if you’re just starting out, Notion has a school template that you can tailor to fit your needs!


  • All your work in one place.
  • Create templates, or use templates made by notion or other users.
  • Embed links to articles, podcasts, essay resources, etc.
  • Create an unlimited amount of pages.
  • Fit pages inside of pages for clean, navigable organization.
  • 20+ content types such as to-do lists, notes, journal, and more.

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FocusPomo (Available on IOS)

It’s so easy to sit down, open your laptop to the most recent assignment you were working on, and somehow find yourself scrolling through your social media feed after writing one sentence—we’ve all been there, and sometimes it’s just hard to get and stay focused.

If you’ve found yourself in this same predicament, scroll to the app store and download FocusPomo! A productivity app based on the “Pomodoro Technique”, FocusPomo helps users stay focused and increase their productivity by completing tasks in sessions, typically 25 minutes, of focused work that are broken up by five-minute breaks.


  • Set a Pomodoro Timer anywhere from 0 to 150 minutes.
  • Label Each Focus Session.
  • Track your Focus Sessions throughout the day.
  • Each completed Focus Session earns you a cute, animated tomato that is added to your app’s home screen.

female college student laying down resting her head on a skateboard as she uses her phone

Studying Apps

Zotero (Available on Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS)

I don’t know about you, but writing a research paper can be beyond stressful for me, especially when it comes down to keeping track of all my sources. They can begin to pile up to the point where I can’t remember where I even learned a piece of information, and I’m too deep into my Google search to go back and try to find it, so I have to abandon the source completely. It would be laughable if it weren’t so painful.

Luckily, Zotero has heard students’ cries of despair and has come to be the perfect personal research assistant for you, me, and all of our bibliographical needs!


  • Save articles, books, webpages, and more by sharing them via Safari and other apps.
  • Organize research using keywords, saved searches.
  • Read and Annotate PDFs.
  • Have your citations and bibliographies automatically generated by the app in over 10,000 formats.

young, busy male wearing messenger bag, walking through a city while on his phone

Remnote (Available on IOS, Android, Mac, and Windows)

Remnote is another all-in-one app that aims to make the lives of notetaking students a little bit easier. Having to write notes and create flashcards in various classes, along with figuring out a memorizing system that works for you can take up a lot of time.

However, in addition to being a note-taking app, Remnote helps you study by creating auto-generated flashcards from your notes and aids in learning retention by using different evidence-based memorization techniques.


  • Create Flashcards from your notes as you’re writing them.
  • Study using six kinds of flashcards.
  • Import notes from other note-taking apps.
  • Annotate PDFs.
  • Add sources to notes and documents.
  • Planner.
  • Sync across all your devices.

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Self-Care App

Daylio (Available on IOS and Android)

As college students, we can experience a lot of good days, bad days, and all other adjectives in between, and with the fast pace of our lives, we can sometimes forget to check in with and take care of ourselves.

Daylio is a digital journal where users can track their moods, habits, goals, and more without having to write anything if they prefer not to. By keeping track of moods and habits to turn into statistics users can reflect on, Daylio helps them better understand their behaviors, create better habits, manage stress, and increase productivity.


  • Track Emotions by choosing from an array of moods.
  • Log daily habits you want to improve on or keep track of such as drinking water, waking up early, reading, etc.
  • Set repeated daily, weekly, or monthly goals.
  • Add notes and photos in addition to tracking moods and habits.

Content young woman leaning back on couch, stretching in relaxation with her phone in her hand and wearing headphones

Whether you’ve been in search of a great note-taking app, or something to help you stay on track and focused, these apps are great systems to help propel you towards a successful semester! Happy studying!

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