The world is more competitive than ever, and college students need every available advantage to excel in preparation for the future that they’re approaching. While nothing is a substitute for concentration and honed study skills, technology offers many important aids.
We’re rapidly approaching the beginning of the 2022 academic year. For the purposes of this article, we presume that everyone’s on board with the reality that most outside of class communication between students and professors is done online. That means that computers, primarily laptops, and smartphones are necessary for everyone. Tablets, Chromebooks and 2-in-1 devices are included in this characterization. If you’re still considering which laptop computer is best for you, we recommend reading the recently published review of best laptops for college students by our sister site, Laptop Mag.
That said, we’re going to concentrate on other technology that can help students dramatically. We’ll divide our recommendations into two categories: devices that directly help students study and support products that help set an atmosphere that is conducive to effective study.
Top Five Study Aids for College Students
eBook Readers and eTextbooks
When recommending eBook Readers, the reaction is often to say that I have a tablet which is even better. That’s true to some extent but when it comes to reading and studying, eReaders are easier on the eyes and so more conducive to long periods of use. That’s because of the eInk technology that they’re based on and the matte finish of the screen.
They’re great for using eTextbooks which, given the exorbitant price of schoolbooks generally, are likely to save you a fortune. Most eTextbook sites allow you to purchase books outright or to rent them in intervals ranging from three to twelve months. Beyond that, an eReader is far easier to carry around campus than a bag full of heavy books.
Using the apps associated with the eBooks and the eReaders allows students to highlight key passages, make notes, and index them reducing the need to fumble around with paper.
Among the best habits that a student can develop is taking copious lecture notes. Setting pen to paper remains viable but there are technological advances that improve the experience of taking notes and more importantly for referring to them while studying.
Digital Notepads such as the reMarkable Paper Tablet are a great way to take notes and to facilitate returning to them for study. Notes can be transferred to a laptop which is a clear advantage. The reMarkable isn’t cheap but there are some worthy alternatives such as the BOOX Note Air.
Digital Smart Pens represent a great alternative to Digital Notepads. They tend to be a bit less reliable but have some distinct advantages. First, they’re far less expensive. The Livescribe Symphony tops our list of favorites. With it, you write in special notebooks which give you the opportunity to save notes in separate folders by subject. The notebooks allow you to have a hardcopy of your notes as well as the most valuable ability to save them via Bluetooth to a smartphone, tablet, or computer. When you no longer need the paper copy, simply wipe it clean with a damp cloth and the page is then available for reuse.
A great feature is that you can save the handwritten notes that can be converted to text files making them available for editing, storing, and sharing.
Students regularly resort to libraries and print centers for printing large documents. But for common, quick print jobs, a portable printer offers the advantage of not having to leave the dorm room or apartment. Reducing that sort of interruption can have a profound effect on the flow of study. Our colleagues at Tom’s Guide found the HP OfficeJet 250 All-in-One to be best. You can see their full testing report by clicking the Tom’s Guide link.
Top Three Products to Promote Positive Study Surroundings
There are innumerable distractions in any college atmosphere which make it easy for any student to step away from studies at just the wrong time. Here are some great products that can help calm the wanderlust and promote academic pursuits.
So, you’re set with all the electronic study aids at your fingertips. The quickest way to put a halt to productive study is for the power to go out and for batteries to be undercharged. Portable chargers, also known as Power Banks, can save the day. You can plug a laptop, phone, tablet, and other device into them for charging but also to provide power through operation of the device.
The amount of available power varies but about 10,000 mAh is adequate for most users. They’re not very expensive so having more than one available isn’t a bad idea. The Anker 313 Power Bank is a good choice but there are many other suitable choices as well.
Toting your electronics around campus is a chore which is made lighter with a smart backpack which includes a USB charger. A key point to keep in mind when choosing a backpack is the size of the laptop you’re likely to carry. Many will accept sizes up to only 13- or 14-inches. That’s fine for most students but if you favor a larger computer you’ll have to check carefully as most won’t accommodate anything larger. With that in mind, the Extra Large pack from SHRRADOO is a great choice as it can carry up to a 17-inch laptop.
Portable Coffee Maker
You may not think of a coffee maker as a study aid but one thing that’s certain is that most college students drink coffee when studying. Of course, they can go somewhere to fetch their favorite brew but that’s a distraction that will bring schoolwork to a standstill.
We suggest considering the Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker. It’s not the least expensive option but we’ve noticed that many competing products make terribly weak coffee.