Phone apps an addition to the student arsenal

Charles Rankin

Looking around campus, you will no doubt see dozens of students staring down at phones, using various applications to make their college lives easier. Or just looking at funny pictures their friends posted on Snapchat.

Students use apps for various reasons and for various purposes. Some apps can benefit their lives academically, such as Ellucian Go, an app designed for colleges and universities, including Washburn. According to Washburn’s mobile app page Ellucian Go combines many services such as D2L, grades, university news and even athletic information into one convenient app for iOS, Android and Amazon Fire devices.

Many students use this app to keep track of their classes and coursework including Allan Williford, a junior mass media student.

“It helps me keep track of when I class,” Williford said. “Especially for the first few weeks of the semester.”

Other apps combine both educational and entertainment abilities. YouTube is a popular website that has also thrived as a mobile app. Many students use it daily to find a break from the busy work of school to watch things such as music videos, vlogs and yes even the occasional cat video.

Some students and faculty, however have educational use for YouTube. Josh Thompson, a student at Washburn University and an instructor at Washburn Tech is one such person.

“There are a lot of channels on YouTube that I can point tech students to to help them find solutions,” Thompson said. “Many of the major HVAC companies even have apps that will help to diagnose issues with units.”

Emily Smyth, a senior psychology student also uses YouTube for educational purposes, while also enjoying the entertainment aspect of the app too.

“There are many apps that you can find entertainment and some that help with your education,” Smyth said. “YouTube has a good combination of both and is more helpful than other apps because of that.”

Most students, however use apps solely for entertainment and socializing. Apps like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are the most prevalent for social media. Nearly every student has Facebook and opens it at least once a day.

Additionally, every student has some kind of streaming music app that they use on a regular basis. Spotify and Pandora are ones most often mentioned. Students use these apps regularly while working, reading or studying.

“I use Spotify and Pandora for personal use,” Josh Thompson said. “The playlists on Spotify are nice if you know what you’re looking for.”

The Spotify app itself doesn’t cost anything but the premium service does have a monthly cost of $5 for college students. For this reason, some people do not use the app. One feature of Spotify is that you can create playlists by choosing songs you enjoy and make them public to share with others. You can also listen to full albums and download music for offline play if you use the premium service.

Pandora, on the other hand, is free to use, with ads that will play every few songs. It also is unique in that it caters songs based on your interests. This feature is useful for people who want to stream continuously and have a variety of music.

Another important app to have is email. Students have to stay on top of the many emails that their professors and bosses send. It can also be useful to know information that the university sends periodically.

“I’m checking my Outlook constantly,” said Bekah Wolgast, senior education major and current student teacher.

Abby Stewart, senior English major, agrees.

“It seems like the notifications for my Washburn email are always going off,” Stewart said.

There are also plenty of apps that help people study and take notes. One such app is Evernote, which allows notes to be shared across multiple platforms such as a phone app, a computer or tablet. It is very simple to set up an account, just download the app on your phone or tablet or go to and set up a free basic account.

Google Drive is another essential app for students. It is a cloud based file storage service. Students can upload documents such as papers, spreadsheets and even pdfs and they can access them anywhere they can access their Google or Gmail account.

Truly though, every person is different when it comes to apps. What one person says is absolutely essential another person might find completely useless. What you really need to do is seek out and find what works best for you. Ask a friend what apps they use and why they use them. Try out something new to maybe help organize your life better. Phones aren’t just for watching funny cat videos and reading the Chive. Use the technology you have to make your life easier.