By Christie Garton, CEO and Founder of the 1,000 Dreams Fund
For better or worse, our iPhones are glued to our hands. And while endlessly scrolling through Facebook will never (ever) be productive, there are plenty of apps that are not only useful, but even life-changing. Trendy apps come and go – new data shows that Instagram stories are pushing Snapchat toward total irrelevance – but some apps should be lifelong smartphone staples.
Students should take particular advantage of these apps. Why? Because the world after college can be really overwhelming. And utilizing certain apps can help set you on the right track for post-grad life, from getting in shape to saving enough money for that dream trip to Bali. (Or just paying rent.) Here are the top five apps all students should download ASAP:
- Mint – Mint links all of your credit, debit and savings accounts in one place, so you can get the total picture of your finances. It tracks all of your transactions and groups them by category, which you can view in an easy-to-read pie chart. That pie chart can be a pretty great wake-up call when you see just how much money is funding those 3 AM trips to McDonald’s.
More than a quarter of young women don’t even know how much debt they’re in, according to a study done by my nonprofit, 1000 Dreams Fund. Using Mint can help you avoid dipping into debt at all – or it can help you find your way out. The app provides helpful tips and guidance for creating budgets and setting long-term goals. You can toggle alerts for when you exceed those budgets – or achieve a goal! Simple notifications will keep you in the loop, so you’re never unexpectedly shocked by the amount in your bank account. Never a good feeling.
- Nike Training Club – There are plenty of fitness apps out there, but Nike’s format is perfect for guys and girls of all athletic levels. Whether you’re brand-new to exercise or a bonafide gym rat, this app will guide you through your daily workouts – it’s sort of like your own pocket personal trainer.
One reason why this one is great for students: It includes quick fifteen-minute workouts, including some that can just be done between classes or before bed. If you feel like you just never have time for a gym trip or a long run, these shorter routines can sub in until your schedule finally calms down.
- Revolar – Really, the more safety apps, the better, but this one is particularly easy to use and great for college students. After downloading, you can select up to five contacts who will receive your GPS location. (You can – and should! – also do this for an infinite number of contacts via iPhone’s own Find My Friends.) From there, you can customize which contacts should receive certain alerts from you. The alerts range from check-ins, meaning there’s no real issue, yellow alerts for potentially alarming situations, and red alerts, meaning “Call the police.”
The simple process is ideal for students, especially girls, who may find themselves walking alone at night. If you think something seems weird, you might hit that yellow alert. For a clearly dangerous situation, you’d go full-on red.
- Headspace – This meditation app is perfect for stressed students who are dealing with anxiety. Students aren’t just worried about grades and relationships – research from my nonprofit also found that nearly 100% of millennials with credit card debt worry about it sometimes or every single day. No matter the root cause, it’s important to step back and breathe. Headspace is ideal for meditation beginners, with easy ten-minute sessions for when you find yourself really needing a break.
Experts say meditation shouldn’t just occur when you’re already feeling tense. Once you get into the habit of meditating, it can help prevent you from even getting into a stressful state at all. Instead, you may find that you’re staying more calm and level-headed as issues arise.
- HBO NOW – Because every college student has, by now, totally exhausted Netflix. There are only so many times you can re-watch “The Office.” Spring for HBO NOW – or at least the free trial month.
# # #
About Christie: Christie Garton is an award-winning social entrepreneur, author and creator of the 1,000 Dreams Fund (1000dreamsfund.org), a social enterprise which empowers young women in the U.S. through scholarships and life-changing advice. Garton is the author of the best-selling college guidebook for women, U Chic: College Girls’ Real Advice for Your First Year (& Beyond!) (4th Edition, Sourcebooks 2015) and co-author of Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever(AMACOM 2013). Garton has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and U.S.News & World Report. She holds a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.