NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- As students head to college with a smartphone in hand, chances are their personal app catalog has a greater focus on music, sports and games than it does on note-taking and finding the cheapest “eats” on campus or in the old section of the foreign city where you are studying this semester. Apps to save money, stay organized, convert pesos into dollars and remember to hand in essays on time are about to become a lot more important – or at least as important as Spotify and Zynga – as the fall semester begins.
Saving money, in particular, is key for college bound students: in addition to tuition, students (or their parents) will spend an average of about $900 on back-to-college related expenses, according to the National Retail Federation.
With that in mind, MainStreet has put together a list of some of the must-have apps for students heading back to college.
Textbooks are a huge expense for students. This app lets students purchase textbooks to be used on their iPhone or iPad, this way students don’t have to lug their books around campus. The app even lets users purchase individual chapters of various textbooks, which of course, is considerably cheaper than buying the entire book.
For more on textbooks, see Why Buying Textbooks Still Outsmarts Renting
2. Lose It!
Staying healthy and watching what you eat is another important task in college. If you haven’t heard of the “freshman fifteen” (as in pounds) you may see it around your waistline before you know what it is. The Lose It! iPhone and Android app lets users track their daily caloric intake, as well as set weight loss goals. There’s even a food log on the app where you can keep track of what you eat.
3. Pageonce – Money and Bills
Only 17% of students pay off their credit card bills, according to Sallie Mae. To remind yourself to pay those bills on time, use the Pageonce – Money and Bills app (on the iPhone and Android).
Simply create a calendar of when your bills are due. After all, 35% of the FICO score accounts for whether or not you pay your bills on time.
4. Multi-Lang Dictionary
Taking a foreign language in college or you studying abroad in another country? Regardless, you’ll need the Multi-Lang Dictionary app (on the iPhone and Android phones), which helps translate some 43 languages.
5. Currency Converter
Students taking a semester abroad will need to keep track of their spending, but the ever-changing exchange rates can make this task a real hassle. Thanks to the Currency Converter app on the iPhone and Android phones, you can convert nearly 200 currencies in seconds -- this way you can see exactly how much that latte costs…in dollars!
If you’re shopping at stores around campus, there’s no reason not to get the best deal. The ShopSavvy app (available on the iPhone and Android) lets you scan the barcode of items in the store and the app will find the retailer or online site that sells the item for the lowest price.
This way, you can use the app to ask the store’s manager if they’ll match a competitor’s price.
The inClass iPhone app completely transforms the way students take notes in class -- use the app to take video or audio notes. You can even add photo notes to the electronic notebook on the app and share your notes with friends and other classmates thanks to the iTunes File Sharing function.
You’ll probably be spending at least some time on group projects, as well as papers and slideshow presentations, so being able to share and save documents with ease is a must. That’s where the Dropbox app comes in handy. Available on the iPhone and Android phones, the app lets users save and store documents. Who needs a laptop these days?
The to-do lists of college students can get pretty long, from writing papers to studying for exams, heading off to an internship and remembering to do the laundry. The Toodledo app (on the iPhone) lets users create to-do lists and organize them according to the importance of each task. And if some of your tasks have certain deadlines, you can set an alert on the app to remind you when it’s time to go ahead and accomplish the task.
Use this iPhone or Android app to search for the nearest hotels, movie theaters and restaurants. For college students, this is perfect for when parents or friends come to visit.
--By Scott Gamm
Gamm is the founder of the personal finance website HelpSaveMyDollars.com. He has appeared on NBC’s TODAY, MSNBC and CNN. Follow Scott on Facebook and Twitter.