Free apps to survive college

Tips and tricks on how to use technology to stay stress-free at school

While anyone can pick up a smartphone and expect to see apps like Facebook, Snapchat or Pokémon Go, Keene State College students are relying on other apps to survive their years at school.

Three of the most popular apps used by students include the Canvas app, a money sharing app called Venmo and a navigation app called Waze.

Jessica Eschelbach, a KSC senior, uses the Canvas app to reduce stress in her life and stay on top of her assignments. Canvas allows students to check and submit assignments, access material uploaded by professors and check the grades as they’re posted.

Eschelbach, who checks Canvas on her phone once or twice every day, said she appreciates the pop-up notifications that the app provides.

“It helps me do better by giving me reminders to do assignments when they are coming up within the next couple days,” Eschelback said, adding that  the feature is especially helpful with the many hours she works every week.

Eschelback added, “I know I am personally less likely to get distracted by Facebook and other sites if I’m not looking at Canvas on my laptop.”

KSC junior Nathaniel Wolf checks the app daily as well. “I probably check it between four and six times on any given day, more often when I’m expecting an assignment grade to go up,” Wolf said.

Wolf added, “[Canvas] helps me do better, as I have access to all my classes, assignments [and] previous lectures at the palm of my hand. It allows me to consistently stay on top of my work.”

While the Canvas app is especially helpful for schoolwork, KSC students found Venmo helpful for dealing with their financials.

With Venmo, users upload debit or credit card information and then can either transfer their own money or charge other Venmo users. The money used can either be cashed out or used through the app on a later transaction.

KSC sophomore Rachel Belcher most recently used Venmo to purchase concert tickets with a friend.

“My friend had bought two tickets for a concert we wanted to go to so I paid her through Venmo. I liked it a lot. It was really easy to send her the money,” Belcher explained.

Samantha Moore / Art Director

Samantha Moore / Art Director

For college kids that aren’t always carrying cash, Belcher said that Venmo is a great app to be able to rely on.

Belcher said, “If you want to order Chinese food or Dominoes for a group of people and no one has cash, Venmo can be extremely useful. You just get everyone in the group to Venmo you the money that they owe.”

KSC senior Mackenzie Correll said that her parents use Venmo to transfer money to her throughout the semester.

“I have definitely benefited from using apps like Venmo,” Correll said. “Having a busy lifestyle I can’t always work a lot to make enough money, so it’s been great to have my family be able to transfer money to me that way.”

Belcher added, “[Venmo] is super helpful when you need to send someone’s money or vice versa. Plus, unlike PayPal, Venmo doesn’t charge a fee to transfer money to someone unless it’s through a credit card.”

KSC junior Savannah Dube said that Venmo has been especially helpful since she got rid of her KSC meal plan.

“For roommates who are splitting food costs, it’s an easy way to split the bill and pay each other the money without the hassle of going to your bank to take out money and keeping cash on you,” Dube explained.

Dube added, “It’s easy, hassle free and secure. I like it better than transferring at my bank. It makes birthday’s a lot easier too. A person can transfer money to someone for their birthday instead of sending it through the mail where it could get lost.”

Another app favored by students is Waze, which acts as both a GPS and a real-time traffic tracker. The app is constantly updated by users to inform others of traffic flow, accidents and even police officer activity on any given route.

Wolf, who regularly travels five and a half hours to KSC from his hometown in New Jersey, said that Waze is extremely helpful in making that commute as painless as possible.

Wolf stated, “[Waze is] very helpful when I’m coming up from New Jersey because I have to go through many cities. It provides the fastest route while taking traffic into consideration. Plus, it gives directions in Morgan Freeman’s voice which is pretty awesome.”

As well as commuting between school and home, Wolf added that the app may be helpful for college students taking road trips to new places for the first time.

For millennial students who grew up with rapidly evolving technology, they find it natural to rely on apps to keep their lives in order.

Eschelbach said, “Other students and I rely on a lot of these apps to prevent conflicts and burning out. Time management is important to making our school lives and personal lives balanced, where we can do everything and still get a decent amount of sleep.”

“Honestly, our phones are in our hands anyways so, why not use it to help stay on top of our grades?” Dube added. “Our generation has it so easy now. Instead of writing in a planner and forgetting about it, you can use your phone to remind you multiple times about the assignment. There’s really no excuse why you forgot about any assignment.”

Jill Giambruno can be contacted at

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