College Success

Use Technology to Your Advantage This Semester

These days, you can walk into any electronics store and be bombarded by all the different products available. When you walk outside, you see almost everyone typing or talking on one of those products, too. So we all know how to use these items to keep up with our social life – but how do we maximize their potential in our school life?

Smart Phones

Smart phones are probably the most common item amongst college students (along with laptops). They offer a wide array of applications and functions that you can use to your advantage. For instance, you have probably heard of Study Blue, which integrates note-taking, class schedules, reminders, and flash cards all into one application.

But did you know there are other apps like FocusBooster that help boost your homework productivity (or any work productivity for that matter) using a particular timing technique? Both of these examples come in handy when I need to get work done.

Another sweet feature of having a smart phone is the recording function. Provided your professor says it’s alright (some do not, so make sure to check), you can record your lectures and listen to them later. While you’ll be missing the graphics/pictures and the in-class feeling, you will still get an excellent snapshot of what was covered in class.


Laptops are probably the easiest product to work with and most people have one already. Don’t you find it easier to type on a computer keyboard or to navigate with a mouse? Isn’t it nice to not have to zoom in and out of webpages all the time because they almost always fit perfectly to your screen? It’s second nature to browse the internet with ease on a laptop, but don’t get too carried away. Use Leechblock, a Firefox browser add-on, to block your access to websites for the amount of time you set.

Many people prefer to type their notes because they are cleaner and appear more organized with bullet and numbering features available. But if bringing your laptop to class is a little inconvenient in size, there’s another answer.


They’re a lighter, more phone-like version of a laptop. They offer all the same features as a smart phone with the benefit of having a larger screen on which to read and write. What I really like about tablets (with a stylus) is how easy it is to take “hand”-written notes. If you like the typed look, you can have that by typing on the tablet keyboard or buying a physical keyboard attachment.

If you prefer the look and feel of a written notebook, you can simply write on the tablet’s notepad with a stylus and it will record your notes in your handwriting. Like laptops, tablets also have the larger screen which makes it easier to see images and scroll through pages without having to zoom in a lot.

Putting It All Together

In order to get an idea of how to integrate all of this, let’s walk through a typical day with these items. At the beginning of the semester, I like to jot down all the assignment due dates and exam days from my syllabi into my phone calendar.

Then, as the teacher begins the lecture, I turn on my recorder and aim it towards the front of class so I can catch every nuance of the discussion. I can scribble out notes on my tablet with a stylus while glancing at and writing down my recorder’s timestamp so I can refer back to certain points in the lecture.

When I get home and it’s time to do homework, so I put on noise-canceling headphones (I prefer no sound, but they can also play white noise) to keep me from getting distracted. As I work on my computer, I keep FocusBooster on so I work for 25-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks in between.

This may seem a little over the top, and I do not think most students would condense all these methods into one day. However, some of the top students I know do refer to these tactics, and these habits help them and myself immensely. So try them out!

There’s no need to have all the gear as long as you seek to unlock the potential of what you do have. Soon, you will be on your way to improving your study habits.


Angela-CoquisAngela Coquis is a junior at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is majoring in Management Information Systems and wants to live abroad and pursue a career in database management. She enjoys Virtual Campus and her dream job is owning a bakery.

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