6 Reasons to Choose to Study from Home

Sometimes there’s a good reason to skip class. We’re not talking about the classic excuses like oversleeping, bad weather or “your dog ate your homework.” Instead, there are legit reasons why you may want to choose to study from home.

Unlike years ago, staying home during your classes doesn’t have to mean getting a lower grade or missing out on valuable lessons. Instead, today’s information-sharing apps can let you know what happened in class, even if you weren’t there. 

For example, the innovative note-sharing platform OneClass pays note-takers to upload their class notes. Within hours or days, you could have detailed accounts of what happened during your class. These shared class notes are a high-quality study tool. You can learn about the topics your processor discussed, important class information, upcoming homework assignments, or what will be on the next exam. 

Studying from home doesn’t necessarily mean you’re slacking off, nor does it mean that you take college less seriously. With access to shared class notes, you’ll have the information you need at your fingertips, without needing to attend class.

Let’s explore six reasons why you might choose to study from home rather than going to class. 

1. Studying From Home Can Help You Stay Healthy

On college campuses, the flu virus can spread rapidly. Students have tight living arrangements and interact with large groups of people in dining halls and lecture classes. 

The more people you interact with, the greater the risk of being exposed to the flu. This also applies to the highly contagious Wuhan Coronavirus.

Unfortunately, the most contagious time for the influenza virus starts 24 hours before symptoms begin. This means your classmates could be spreading the illness without even realizing it. Plus, college students are more likely than other demographics to push through their sickness and attend class even if they’re feeling unwell. 

To survive the flu season in college, one of your best options may be to study from home. This will reduce your exposure risk. Everything from desks to doorknobs are potential germ carriers. Studying from home may be a smart strategy to protect your health. 

2. It’s More Convenient to Study From Home

There is a global trend toward prioritizing remote connectivity. 

Increasingly, it’s become more convenient for higher education students to take online classes or businesspeople to work from home. Even if an online class wasn’t available, you can still study from home when taking an on-campus college class.

Note-sharing apps can let you know what happened in class, even when you’re not there. You may be able to achieve the academic success you want while having the convenience of studying from home.

Not only has home-based work been shown to increase productivity, but it also gives you academic authority. You have the freedom to choose what topics you focus on rather than being forced to go at the pace of the group. 

For international students, studying at home provides another type of convenience. For those who have moderate language skills, there’s the opportunity to take the time to translate words as needed.

3. Studying From Home May Help You Focus

Another important issue to consider is distractions. For many students, finding ways to avoid distractions has a direct impact on grades. 

There’s no denying that it can be difficult to focus in class. Each student may find that they’re triggered in different ways. It could be a fellow student who is loudly snapping their gum, the activity of people walking past an open door, or someone in the room wearing too much cologne. It can even be distracting when another student scrolling their phone is within view.

The net effect of a distracting classroom is that students may attend class and leave not having a clear understanding of the material that was covered. 

In contrast, students who study from home using shared class notes have an opportunity to give their full attention to the information being taught. With the improved focus of studying at home, students may find that their classwork takes less time and their grades improve.

4. Introverts May Prefer to Study From Home

Studying from home may also be a good choice for different personality types. In particular, introverts tend to prefer their own private spaces rather than the socialization of crowds. 

While it can be beneficial for introverts to step outside their comfort zones, cognitive psychologists acknowledge that learning is often most successful when the process is most suited to the student. 

Preferred study location can differ by personality type, and it’s still possible to get a world-class education while avoiding crowds. Introverts may learn better when they’re studying from home, rather than in a classroom. 

5. Environmental Impact of Studying from Home

Staying home from class can help you reduce your carbon footprint. 

You could drive less, which directly reduces your fossil fuel consumption and resulting air pollution. There’s also the issue of parking lots. Paved parking lots contribute to urban heat island effect and stormwater runoff problems. 

As many students seek to make carbon-neutral choices that slow climate change, studying from home can reduce environmental impact.

When you go green, your grades don’t have to suffer. Online shared class notes can let you know what happened in class, and learning doesn’t have to be done in the classroom. 

6. Studying from Home is Safe

Following an on-campus crisis, it can be uncomfortable or frightening to go back to attending classes. However, prioritizing safety doesn’t have to mean your grades suffer. 

When you use shared class notes, you’ll be able to learn from home. It’s no longer necessary to go on campus to find out what material is covered in your classes. Millions of students are using OneClass to achieve academic success. More than 90 percent of users have improved by at least one letter grade. 

Find out what class notes are already available for your school. 

image attribution: baranq – stock.adobe.com

Guide to Use Simplenote for College Note Taking

The note-taking app Simplenote is a little different from the other popular options. It takes a minimalist approach. Instead of touting frills, features and add-ons, Simplenote is streamlined. It’s essentially black text on a white page that can sync across all your devices. 

The note-taking app is built around the idea that sometimes more isn’t always better. When you have the basics that you need without the clutter, you may be able to stay focused on your classwork. 

Even though Simplenote doesn’t offer many features, TechCrunch called it “the planet’s most useful piece of software.” It’s more lightweight than many other note-taking apps, but it can be used for “just about everything, from shopping lists to the Great American Novel.”

Let’s take a look at why something so simple can be so helpful in college and how students can make the most of Simplenote.  

Can Simplenote Help You Focus?

Simplenote lives up to its name. It’s a simple note-taking app. However, there’s science behind why limiting choice can be helpful to students. 

Scientists and researchers have found that too many choices can be overwhelming, tiring, paralyzing, and can prevent us from focusing on what’s most important. A famous example of this theory is how Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day to combat decision fatigue. 

Voluntary simplicity has been applied to app design, specifically to the user experience. Interfaces are built around Hick’s Law, which can calculate the ratio of how much longer it will take a user to make a decision when there are more choices available. 

Because Simplenote keeps it simple, there is an opportunity for students to focus on what really matters. 

When taking notes during class, you can pay closer attention to the topic of the lecture. You can use the app in random bursts to jot down project ideas or reminders, and its simplicity is helpful when brainstorming for your term paper. 

If Simplenote’s bare-bones approach isn’t enough, the app also has Focus Mode which further strips down the interface into only the essentials. It’s a blank canvas for information and ideas. 

Who Benefits the Most from Simplenote’s Note Taking Approach?

Admittedly, this streamlined approach to college note taking isn’t for everyone. Other note-taking apps offer high-tech features that really can make student life easier. For example, Evernote and Google Keep can transcribe a photo of a class whiteboard into typed text. 

To compare note-taking app features and decide which note-taking you should use in school, check out our recommendations for the best note-taking apps for students in 2020.

For all students, Simplenote can be a great way to track the minutiae of life. However, when it comes to classwork, Simplenote is especially relevant for students in programs that focus on words and text. This can be majors such as history, English and computer science, for example. 

On the other hand, Simplenote probably isn’t the right choice for your focus in college is on math, science or other programs that incorporate images or drawing. For these programs, students might get more benefit from an app like Apple Notes, which has some useful features for digital handwriting. 

The Advantages of Simplenote Sync and Multi-Device Access

Like many other apps and platforms, Simplenote uses the cloud to provide multi-device access to your information. Just set up an account and you can access your class notes from your phone, tablet or computer. This note-syncing is an advantage over a plain text editor, where your notes live locally on a single device. 

Simplenote has both mobile apps and desktop apps for iOS, Android, macOS, Windows and Linux. The support for Linux is especially helpful for computer science students who want access to their information without having to deal with a dual boot. 

Simplenote also offers web access so you can access your notes without having to download any software. Plus, there’s an open API so you can use it to build what you need. 

What Can’t Simplenote Do, and Are There Workarounds?

Unlike many other note taking apps, Simplenote doesn’t support multimedia. This means you can’t add images, voice memos, PDFs, Powerpoint slides or screenshots taken by a web clipper. There also isn’t optical character recognition or other high-tech tools. 

Without the capacity for rich media, Simplenote won’t be a singular holding container for all of your academic material. It really is a minimalist writing app.

Instead, you can use Simplenote alongside a cloud storage system so you have easy access to all your class files. This could be Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive or any other favorite. Use Simplenote for your text, and then put any media files in cloud storage. 

What Features Does Simplenote Offer?

With Simplenote, you’ve got basics like spell check. You can insert checklists and even do nested checklists for multi-level lists.

You can make an unlimited number of notes. The company does qualify that there are no limits “as long as you’re not abusing the system.” A good rule of thumb, however, is to limit notes to several thousand words to keep everything running fast. 

Also, if you screw up, you’re probably okay. Accidently deleted notes are in your trash. There’s also note history that lets you use a slider bar to scroll back to previous versions. You can review them or revert back if needed. 

Simplenote does encrypt notes when they’re being transmitted across the network. However, they don’t recommend using it for sensitive information such as passwords, bank account information or social security numbers.

There’s also the option to add a passcode to the app. This means that you’ll type in a four-digit PIN before getting access to the notes app. 

You can share notes with other people by adding their email addresses as a tag. If the other person has a Simplenote account, they’ll be able to view and edit the note collaboratively. 

You can also publish to the web directly from Simplenote. After clicking the Publish button, you’ll have a sharable link within seconds. 

How Much Does Simplenote Cost?

Simplenote is free. 

The app is owned by Automatic, the folks who make WordPress. They don’t charge a thing for it. There’s no advertising. There are no upsells or upgrades. 

Some note-taking apps like Microsoft OneNote or Zoho Notebook only give you the free version or offer a free plan. However, Simplenote is free for everyone. 

What Are Your Formatting Options in Simplenote?

Simplenote supports Markdown. This lets you add rich text formatting using text code, rather than toolbar buttons. One of the user advantages is you can get standard notes to look neatly formatted without having to waste time switching between the keyboard and the mouse. 

Check out GitHub’s Markdown help page for a helpful list of basic syntax, or here are a few easy recommendations to try: 



You do have to make sure that Markdown is enabled in your settings. Also, an advanced tip is that it is possible to use Markdown to embed images into your notes if the images are hosted elsewhere.

What Are Simplenote’s Organization and Search Tools?

Simplenote has a basic text search. However, the app also offers offline search. That means if you’ve gone fully off the grid to help yourself focus on your assignments, you’ll still have easy access to your digital class notes. 

There’s also the option to pin notes to the top, and the option to sort notes alphabetically. It’s pretty basic stuff. 

You can add tags to organize notes. This can help you categorize classes. Try tagging your notes using the course code so you’ll be able to keep your class notes organized throughout your four years of college. For example, the tag “20-SP-Bio101” indicates that the notes are from the 2020 Spring semester for Biology 101 class. 

Unfortunately, Simplenote doesn’t offer folders, which can be especially helpful for students who are juggling so many classes and projects. 

NYT has said Simplenote “is as close to a searchable pile of paper as you can get.”

The writer explained their approach: “I’m sure there are people who tag their Simplenotes, or otherwise think of them in some sort of structured way, but I just add them to the heap and then search for names or words and see what comes up. It has turned out to be a really nice way to annotate the frequently, and I think intentionally, disorienting experience of being online.”

Is There Another Way to Help You Focus in Class?

The back-to-basics approach of Simplenote can help you stay focused when you’re taking class notes. However, there may be a way you can have the information you need without having to do any note-taking at all. 

With the shared class notes app, OneClass, paid note-takers are uploading class notes and study guides to the platform. This can give you the written information about what happened during class without having to do any typing at all. 

Instead of acting as a secretary during your college classes, you could be focusing more on the professor’s explanations or engaging in discussions. Plus, in situations when you miss a class or you’re struggling with the material, the shared class notes can help you get up to speed. 

Search for your school on OneClass to see what shared class notes are already available. 

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Surviving Flu Season in College. Should You Skip Class?

First, there’s the coughing. Then comes the fever, muscle aches and exhaustion. By day two, you might find it difficult to get out of bed. 

For college students, the flu usually lasts about eight days. More than just feeling awful, a fast-paced college curriculum can mean missing out on critical lessons. Then when you’re feeling better, you’ll have twice as much work as you try to catch up. 

Surviving college during flu season isn’t easy. Learn more about how the flu spreads on college campuses and when you can do about it. 

6 Ways College Students Can Avoid the Flu

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What College Students Should Know About the Flu

Viruses like the flu spread rapidly on college campuses, and proximity plays a big role. 

Students are in close contact during class and when socializing. There are tight living spaces in dorms and apartments. Plus, college life frequently means high stress and very little sleep. All-nighters don’t strengthen your immune system, and these lifestyle factors can put you at a higher risk of catching the virus. 

The most contagious time for the flu is 24 hours before you start to feel symptoms. That means you or someone you know could be spreading the virus without even realizing it. This highly contagious time extends three to five days after your symptoms start. 

With a cough or sneeze, the virus can spread across classroom desks, cafeteria countertops, keyboards, gym equipment and more. 

Carlos Acuña-Villaorduña, an infectious disease specialist and Boston University professor, says, “If elderly people get sick, they isolate themselves, but young people keep working and fueling the virus’s transmission.”

If you’re feeling under the weather and still go to class, you could be creating a ripple effect that spreads the illness to your classmates and beyond. On the flip side, healthy students face the risk that a classmate could be exposing them to the virus. 

What About the Coronavirus?

If the regular flu wasn’t scary enough, there’s another health threat to worry about. 

The quickly spreading Wuhan Coronavirus has caused the World Health Organization to declare a global emergency. The respiratory illness could have symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath. In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, respiratory problems and death. 

Harvard Medical School explains that it’s a “rapidly evolving health story” and information is changing quickly. To prevent its spread, people should use basic infectious disease precautions such as washing your hands and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

Visit Johns Hopkins’ coronavirus tracking dashboard for an interactive map showing the real-time data about where coronavirus has spread.

There is still so much that’s unknown about the threat of coronavirus, and many students are on edge. 

There has been one confirmed case of coronavirus at Arizona State University. The person did not live on-campus and has been isolated. Subsequently, more than 25,000 students have signed a petition on Change.org urging ASU administrators to cancel classes. 

“We do not want to risk our lives by attending class,” said the petition. 

“It’s hysteria,” said one Asian student who lives in the dorms. “I cough in class and everybody looks at me,” she said. As the petition explained: “Students just want to know more information about this virus before going on campus.”

Is The Flu A Higher Risk?

At present, there are still only a few cases of coronavirus in the U.S. Comparatively, about one in ten people will get the influenza virus each flu season.

There is a greater chance that you’ll be exposed to the seasonal flu virus, and for most college students in the U.S., the flu is a higher risk. 

flu cases each year

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year, the flu causes about nine to 45 million illnesses, 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations, and between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths. Since 2019, there have been 337,157 deaths as a result of the Influenza virus. 

6 Ways College Students Can Avoid the Flu

Healthy practices can help protect you from both influenza and coronavirus.

flu season in college

1. Get the Vaccine

The flu vaccine can reduce the likelihood that you’ll contract the virus and reduce the intensity of the virus if you do get it. 

Among adults in the United States, about 45 percent get the flu vaccine. This rate is lower among students, and it’s estimated that between eight and 39 percent of college students get the vaccine.

Despite this, college life makes the flu shot even more valuable, and school officials are widely encouraging students to get the shot. It may even be available at your school’s health services department. Between dorms, classes and social life, getting vaccinated is a great way to protect yourself and help your fellow students by reducing the spread of the virus. 

2. Wash Your Hands!

The recommendation to wash your hands may seem like a basic one. However, according to the CDC, washing your hands is the single most important infection control measure. 

The rule of thumb is soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and then dry using paper towels. 

Hand sanitizer is the next best option. Experts say that it kills some germs, but it’s usually not enough. For best results, find a brand that has 62 to 70 percent ethyl alcohol, and get your hands fully wet when applying. It should take about 15-20 seconds for your hands to dry. 

When talking about the coronavirus, comedian Trevor Noah jokes: 

“Here’s the thing. Scientists always warn us about some new weird death virus. And when we’re like, ‘What’s the plan?’ They’re like ‘Uh, wash your hands.’

That’s not a plan. There’s an outbreak and all you’re saying is wash your hands. I’ve never seen a zombie movie where there’s like ‘Ahhh, they’re coming.’ [And then after washing your hands], ‘Ok, we’re good.’”

3. Wear a Medical Mask

When there’s a flu pandemic, it can seem even more terrifying as medical masks start to become the standard. 

Wearing a medical mask can be a precaution against pathogens such influenza or coronavirus. It’s a way to protect yourself and others against the disease-ridden moisture droplets of saliva and mucus. 

Health care workers interacting directly with coronavirus are wearing heavy-duty disposable masks with a N95 respirator. These tightly-fitting masks block out at least 95 percent of airborne particles. 

Common surgical masks are more comfortable, and they still provide some protection against the spread of the disease. “Some infectious disease experts have also suggested that wearing a face mask may have some value if it keeps you from touching your face and nose,” said NPR. The masks block a major pathway for germs to get into your body. 

4. Cough and Sneeze Like a Vampire

Coughing or sneezing into your hands means you’ll spread those germs onto everything you touch. 

The practice of sneezing into your elbow is reminiscent of Dracula’s classic swooping hand gesture. In the past decade, this has become the standard suggestion of authorities like the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics and Sesame Street. If you need a demonstration, you can hear Elmo explain the right way to sneeze.

5. Use Disinfectant Wipes

In the close living spaces of college dorms and apartments, germs spread quickly through seemingly benign objects like doorknobs and remote controls. 

Disinfectant wipes and sprays can help you avoid the spread of the flu and the common cold. They’re especially useful if someone in your vicinity is sick. 

Both Clorox and Lysol products have made early claims that they’re effective against the spread of the flu and viruses similar to the current strain of coronavirus. The instructions on the label are important and will determine how well they disinfect. For example, use them on non-porous surfaces, like that doorknob, and give it a couple of minutes to work. 

6. Avoid Public Areas

Close contact with the wider public can expand your exposure risk. The more people you interact with, the greater the opportunity that the virus has to infect someone else. 

With a typical flu virus, people are contagious before they even start to show symptoms, increasing risk of transmission.

College students may be tempted to push through their illness rather than staying home. However, there are systems in place at college that can help you avoid spreading the flu. 

For sick students, many colleges will deliver food from the dining hall. With a contagious virus like the flu, your college may even put you up in a single room with a private bathroom so that you can avoid spreading it around. 

As to classes, apps like OneClass give you access to shared class notes so you can know what’s happening even if you’re not there. 

Interestingly, students are using OneClass to catch up after they’ve been sick, but some students are taking a precautionary approach. Rather than further increasing their potential exposure, students can stay on top of their classwork by downloading class notes and emailing their professor. 

For those who have compromised immune systems, avoiding large lecture halls can be especially important. With OneClass, you can still learn your coursework and get good grades, but you don’t have to battle the germs to do it.

The flu season can be dangerous. 

OneClass enables students to stay home and avoid exposure to germs during the cold and flu season.  Learn more about how shared class notes have helped more than 90 percent of users improve their grades and can help you avoid the misery of the flu. 

image attribution: sebra – stock.adobe.com

Guide to Use Apple Notes for College Note Taking

Yes, you can go paperless in college. Switching to ebooks and digital files is easy enough, but the tricky point for many students is digital class notes. 

Apple Notes was our pick as one of the best note-taking apps of 2020. It’s a great choice for students who are fans of the iOS platform. It’s full-featured, has a clean design, and is easy to use. It avoids the bland user interface that the free version of Microsoft OneNote has. During recent updates, additional features were added without the bloat of Evernote. 

Apple Notes can be used in college classes for typed notes, digital handwriting, math formulas and more. Plus, Apple Notes is free to use. There are no subscriptions, plans or upsells. 

Apple Notes has also become insta-famous as the go-to app for celebrity apologies and statements. It’s been used by everyone from Beiber to Lady Gaga.

Let’s break down what makes Apple Notes great, what your other options are, and how you can get started using Apple Notes in college.

1. Apple Notes Devices, OS and Sync

Apple Notes is a favorite among Mac users. It comes pre-installed on iMacs, iPads, iPhones and any other OS X or iOS devices. That can make it a no-brainer to use. It’s already set up, and you can sync your notes across your devices. 

You can take notes during class on your iPad, review them in your dorm later on your iMac, and also access them on your iPhone. Because Apple Notes is built into your Apple products, some say that it syncs better across devices than non-native apps.

Apple Notes isn’t a good choice if you are an Android or Windows user, or if you think you might be one day. There’s no native app available outside the Apple ecosystem. If you do change up devices, it can be a hassle to export all of your information to a third party note-taking app you’ve downloaded from the app store. 

There’s also the option to access your notes via iCloud.com. Web access is an alternative way to gain access if you have a Windows device. Although that widens accessibility, it isn’t the same as a truly cross-platform solution such as Evernote or Zoho Notebook, both of which offer iOS and Android apps.

Note that there isn’t currently a native notes app available for an Apple Watch.

2. What Note Taking Gear Is Best for Apple Notes?

What note taking gear do you need to replace all of your college notebooks and binders? The answer depends on the classes you take and your note-taking style. 

With a MacBook, you’ll have the portability of bringing your laptop to class or the library. You’ll have the full keyboard for typing and the iOS powerhouse to do whatever you need. However, for math formulas, chemistry equations and diagrams, you may be reaching for a pen and paper. 

A slimmer option is the iPad Pro. You’ll have the on-screen keyboards for typing, or there’s also the option to add on a Bluetooth tactile keyboard. The touchscreen also lets you create handwritten notes, draw diagrams or write math formulas. There’s also the option to add an Apple Pencil stylus to make it easier to use the tablet as though it were pen and paper.

You can also take class notes on your iPhone. However, the small screen size can cause your notes to be more like short bullet points than comprehensive descriptors. 

If you’re buying gear, don’t forget your student discount, which is about a 10 percent discount. Apple also runs a major back-to-school sale event each year, and the partnership between Apple and Amazon means you may be able to get hardware deals and Prime shipping.

3. What Can You Add to Apple Notes?

Once you have your gear sorted out, using Apple Notes offers a range of editing and attachment capabilities. 

For text notes, you can use formatting options such as bold, italics, bullet points, indentations and other basics. You can create tables in Apple Notes. You can even create checklists, letting you easily check things off as they’re completed and have drag-and-drop capabilities to reorder your priorities. 

You can also create inline drawings by simply tapping the pencil icon. Handwritten notes can be done the same way. The expanded feature set of iOS11 added a Lines & Grids feature that gives you the digital equivalent of lined notebook paper to write on. 

You can add attachments to your notes, such as a photo of an instructor’s whiteboard, scanned document images or a PDF of a teacher’s class lesson. Plus, you can save web pages by sharing a link from Safari to your Notes app. 

You can also mark up images and annotate PDFs after files are added to notes. 

4. Can you Dictate Notes Using Siri?

Absolutely! Using Siri with Apple Notes is a favorite hack among many students. When you’re on the go, you can dictate a project ideas, homework questions and more. Simply say:

“Hey Siri, create a note called Biology homework questions.”

Then you can dictate your notes rather than typing or hand writing them. You can use Siri to initiate many other Notes functions, including updating your last note or finding notes about a specific class.

If you’re wondering if you can record the audio of an entire class with Apple Notes, unfortunately you can’t. The next best alternative is to record the audio in Voice Memos, and then attach the audio file to Apple Notes. 

Notably, note-taking in Google Keep is miles ahead of Apple Notes for recording audio. There’s integrated audio recording so you’re only one click away. The app even transcribes audio recordings so you can re-read and search them easily. 

5. How Can You Keep Class Notes Organized?

There are a few great organizational tools in Apple Notes that can help you stay on top of your classwork. 

You can use a series of folders and subfolders. This gives you the structure to group each semester’s classes together. 

You can also pin notes so that you have easy access to important things like your to-do list. If you’re a visual learner, you may appreciate Gallery view, which gives you thumbnails instead of a list. 

Our favorite feature is that you can use emojis in your folder names. ?

6. Is It Easy to Search for Information in Apple Notes?

With Apple Notes, you can search your typed notes. The app also can search your handwritten notes. With its handwriting recognition feature, you’ll have just as much search power, even if you prefer longhand.

When it comes to scanned documents and photos, the update last year added optical character recognition (OCR) so that a search will also pull up documents with text in the image, such as a photo of a class’s whiteboard. 

The app also has visual recognition for images. For example, if you search your Biology notes for “frog,” the app will recognize photos of frogs as relevant to your search.

A great college hack is to add hashtags to your notes so you can quickly locate specific topics. 

7. Can Apple Notes Help You Track Due Dates?

There isn’t an option within Apple Notes to flag something for follow-up. However, you can integrate it with Apple Reminders. 

If you have time-sensitive information in a note, click: Share > Reminders. 

With this function, you can track project deadlines, information you want to research further, or study reminders to help reinforce memorization. 

8. Can You Use Apple Notes Collaboratively?

Apple Notes lets you share individual notes and entire folders. Unlike Google Docs or Dropbox Paper, you won’t see realtime typing when someone else is editing a doc. However, everything syncs within minutes.

Keep in mind that Apple Notes is primarily an app for individual note-takers and small group collaborations. There are other apps available for note sharing that can help you to study more efficiently. 

With OneClass, you can access shared class notes and study guides that have been uploaded by paid notetakers. Using these high-quality class notes, you can catch up if you missed a class, get up to speed if you’re struggling with the material, and even free yourself from acting as a secretary during class.

Discover the class notes that are available for your school, and find out why 90 percent of OneClass users have improved by at least one letter grade.

image attribution: Insta_photosstock.adobe.com


Guide to Use Google Keep for College Notetaking

If you’re ready to go digital with your college note taking, Google Keep is a great option. In fact, Google Keep was one of our picks for the best note-taking apps in 2020

The note-taking app is particularly relevant if you’re a fan of Gmail, Google Docs and other G-Suite apps. Not only is the user interface similar to other Google products, but the integration between Google apps can create a seamless workflow. Who doesn’t want a simpler way to manage college notes and assignments?

Google Keep users skew younger, according to an analysis by Vertro Analytics. That makes sense based on how convenient the Google ecosystem is. Users aged 18 to 24 account for 58 percent of Google Keep users, according to the survey. This is starkly different from other note taking apps where this younger age group accounts for 37 percent on Microsoft OneNote and 34 percent on Evernote.

How Does Google Keep Compare to Evernote?

Google Keep and Evernote may both be in the same category of note taking apps, but their functionality means they’re used differently. 

Google Keep has a format that’s similar to sticky notes. It’s not designed for longer notes, but if you want pages of text, you can convert a Google Keep note into a Google Doc. Google Keep does offer some of the same image recognition features as Evernote, and if you have handwriting, the app can convert it to digital searchable text. Google Keep will even transcribe audio recordings. 

Comparatively, Evernote offers a format that makes it more convenient to have longer notes. There are also more organizational options letting you create a hierarchical structure that can nest notes under classes under semesters. Evernote does have a free plan available, but the simpler Google Keep is free for all users. 

The note taking app that works best for you will depend on what type of notetaker you are, your learning style and what you want the app to do. Our guide to Evernote goes into detail about how to use the app and what functionality it offers. 

For fans of G-Suite, the steps below explain how students can use Google Keep for college notetaking. 

1. Google Keep Syncs Across Your Devices

Like other Google apps, Google Keep has universal device access. For example, you can create a note on your tablet during class, look at it later on your laptop, and review notes from your phone. No matter what device you use, information will be up to date. 

The Google Keep mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices. You can also access Google Keep via a web browser. There’s even a Google Keep extension for Google Chrome so you can interact with your notes via the browser’s toolbar. 

Note that for Apple users, the iOS app can be disappointing and only receives 3.4 stars. Apple Notes is a great alternative.

2. Use It Alongside Other Google Apps

Many people choose to use Google Keep because they’re already using other Google apps. By staying within the Google ecosystem for your class notes, you can get the full benefits of G-Suite integration. 

The first benefit is visual access. You can display Google Keep as a sidebar within Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Slides or other apps. For students, this is a great way to access class notes when working on term papers or to keep task lists within view. 

The second benefit is that information in your Google Keep notes can be easily moved to different apps within your Google account. For example, if your notes in Google Keep become long and unwieldy, you can select “Copy to Google Doc” to transfer its contents to another app.  Additionally, you can drag and drop the contents of your note to Google Doc or Google Slides. 

The seamlessness between Google Keep and Google Docs is especially important because Google Keep was not designed for large documents, nor does Google Keep offer all of the formatting options of Google Docs. 

3. You Can Add Variety of Multimedia

You can type notes using Google Keep, but there is no rich text editing such as bold, italics or underline. However, you can add other types of media.  

There is a text formatting option to turn lists into checklists, which lets you mark things done. 

You can add images. For example, you can add a photo of your class’s whiteboard, your own handwritten notes, or something you saw in your textbook. 

If you’re using the Chrome extension, you can also save web content to Google Keep. The light bulb icon functions as a web clipper, letting you save an entire webpage. You can even right-click to save a selection or web image to Keep. 

You can also use the app to record and save voice memos. 

The app also accommodates drawings and handwritten notes. Select the pen button on the app, and your touchscreen becomes a place to sketch ideas, create wireframes, or easily write math formulas. 

4. Multimedia Becomes Searchable

The power of Google’s technology can be put to work for you. 

In Google Keep, audio notes are automatically transcribed. Simply record your voice memo, and the result will be an auto recording paired with the transcribed text. 

Images can be transcribed too. All you have to do is select “Grab Image Text,” and OCR technology (optical character recognition) can transcribe your image into typed text. 

Once digitized, the text from images and audio recordings can be searched so you’ll only be a few clicks away from anything.

5. Stay Organized with Google Keep

Within Google Keep, each item looks like digital sticky notes. There are a few ways you can keep them organized.

You can change the colors so all notes for your Accounting class are green, for example. Then you can view by color code. 

You can also organize notes by adding labels. User accounts can have up to 50 labels, and you can choose to group the notes for each class together that way. 

There’s also the option to pin important notes to the top of the app. This can give you easy access to your to-do lists. 

6. Reminders Can Help You Stay on Top of Homework

Google Keep offers two types of reminders. 

The first is a standard time reminder. For example, you can set a reminder to review History class notes on Saturday at noon. 

The second is a location-based reminder. It’s controlled by your device’s GPS and the alert will trigger at a specific location. For example, you can set a reminder for your Chemistry questions to pop-up when you walk into your school’s Science building. 

Add a reminder to any note, and view upcoming reminders via the app’s menu. 

7. Sharing Notes and Collaboration Tools

You can also use Google Keep with other people, sharing notes in a similar way that files are shared on Google Drive. 

Theoretically, you could use Google Keep to collaborate on class projects. However, the simplicity of the platform can become quickly limiting. 

A better way to use Google Keep is to share task lists. For example, you could share a grocery list among your housemates. This helps you quickly know that you’re out of hand soap or that someone already picked up the party supplies for tonight. You can add photos to the note. This way everyone will remember which frozen pizza has the best toppings or which variety of coffee is the household favorite. 

In addition to Google Keep, there are other tools for sharing class notes that can help you work more efficiently. The app OneClass gives college students access to class notes and study guides that have been uploaded by paid notetakers. 

Whether you’ve missed a class or you’re struggling with the material, you can quickly get up to speed by checking out the high-quality notes that have been shared online. 

See what class notes are being shared at your school to find out how 90 percent of OneClass users have improved by at least one letter grade. 

image attribution: fizkes – stock.adobe.com

Guide to Use Evernote for College Notetaking

Top students are using Evernote to organize their class notes. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll explain the best way to use Evernote for college note taking.

Evernote is a powerful app for college note taking. In fact, it’s so useful that it’s been called the Swiss Army Knife of note taking apps.

Its strong functionality and easy to use interface were the reasons Evernote ranked as our top overall pick in our comparison of the best note taking apps for students

As the app comparison explains, Evernote is a great choice because it has robust organization tools, including reminders. You can add files such as images, and the text within the images is searchable, which can be a major time saver. Evernote has a free version, or there’s a student discount on Evernote Premium. 

Now that you know the basics, let’s jump into the best way to use Evernote as a college student. 

1. Make Your Info Portable with Multi-Device Access

The first step is to get your gadgets connected and synced so you can use a single Evernote account to access your notes from any device. 

For example, you can use Evernote on your iPad during class. Later, when you’re in the library, you can access those notes from your laptop. You can even use Evernote for micro-study sessions by reviewing notes on your phone when you’re waiting in line.  

The Evernote app is available on iOS, Android and Windows. It can be installed on a phone, tablet or laptop. You also have full access to your Evernote account via the web. 

With a free Evernote account, you can use the app on a maximum of two devices. Plus, you can use the web version on an unlimited number of devices. 

2. Get Organized for the Semester

The crux of Evernote’s usefulness is your ability to organize notes. This is done through a combination of individual notebooks and stacks. Similar to how you use file folders, you can create a notebook for each class you’re taking. All of those notebooks can then be organized into a stack to group together the semester’s classes. 

This organization structure is how you’ll keep your Chemistry class notes separate from your History notes, and this note-taking system is easy to edit as your personal preferences evolve. 

You can also use Evernote Tags to add labels to individual notes. Tags such as study guide, lab notes or term paper can help you quickly locate information. Plus, tags can be organized into hierarchies too. 

3. Use Evernote’s Handwriting Feature

You can use Evernote to type notes using a standard text editor that includes helpful formatting tools like bullet points. However, not everyone likes typing during class. 

If you’d rather be hand writing, you don’t have to revert to paper. Evernote syncs with the Penultimate digital handwriting app for iPhone or iPad. On Android devices, you can handwrite using your finger or a stylus such as the Pixelbook pen.

With these options for digital handwriting, you’ll have the freedom to hand-draw diagrams, write chemistry formulas, solve math equations and more. Plus, you get the learning benefits of longhand note taking. 

Your handwritten notes are stored within Evernote so they’ll be easily accessible. Plus, they’re also searchable. With Evernote’s optical character reader (OCR) capabilities, the app understands handwriting as though it were typed text. So if you took handwritten notes from a lecture about Hannibal crossing the Alps, a search for the word “elephant” will help you find the exact lecture. 

4. Pen and Paper Won’t Hold You Back

Even in the best of circumstances, college classes aren’t entirely digital. 

With Evernote, teacher handouts, sticky notes, past exams and other paperwork can quickly be added to the app with the scanner function. By adding these documents, your papers will stay organized and readily available. 

Plus, these scanned pages are also searchable, just like the notes taken via digital handwriting. 

5. Capturing Teacher Whiteboards and PowerPoints

Many types of files can be added to Evernote. This is especially useful when your professor distributes the slides from a lecture or a series of homework readings. These PDFs and files can easily be organized into your digital notebooks. It’s as easy as drag and drop.

Plus, when you’re in class, you can also snap a photo of an important lecture slide or diagram. If you’re using the mobile app, there’s a camera feature within the Evernote app so you can capture the information without missing a beat. 

6. Flag Class Notes For Follow-up

With Evernote, you’re not solely dependent on your memory. You can add reminders directly to notes that have time-specific information, deadlines or need further action. 

These reminders will auto-populate a to-do list that’s pinned to the top of your note list. You can sort them, mark them as complete, and you can even choose to get email reminders about due dates. 

7. Staying on Track by Using Checklists

To survive college, you’ll need to track homework assignments, project deadlines, exam dates and so much more. The checklist function in Evernote lets you develop task lists so you can stay on track. You’ll also get the satisfaction of marking things done. 

8. Turn Your Syllabus into a Living Doc

In many classes, your syllabus will give you exam dates, homework assignments and details about what to expect for the semester. Rather than your syllabus PDF being static and unchangeable, Evernote lets you draw and write directly onto a PDF. 

With this tool, you can edit the syllabus to keep track of your progress, make edits to the professor’s teaching plans, and help yourself stay on top of your responsibilities. 

8. Augment Notes with Audio Recordings

For most students, relistening to lectures isn’t an efficient or helpful way to study. However, there are instances where you may want to capture audio content, and Evernote lets you do this directly from the app. 

If you have the permission of your professor, you can capture their explanations of difficult concepts or group discussions when you’d rather be participating instead of taking written notes. Plus, you can also use the tool to capture voice notes to yourself.

9. Add Content from Textbooks and Readings

Evernote is a great tool for gathering all your study materials together. When all of your information is in one place, you won’t waste time searching through disorganized papers and books. 

While doing homework, important files, images and documents can be added alongside your class notes. You can also use the integrated Web Clipper to take screenshots of web pages so you’ll have easy access to articles on a subject. 

10. Improving Note-Taking Speed with Evernote Shortcuts

This tip isn’t for beginners. However, as your skill and comfort increase, keyboard shortcuts can help you to work faster and accomplish more. 

Whether you want to start a new note or update text formatting, keyboard shortcuts are especially useful for college students trying to keep up in a fast-paced lecture class. 

One estimate found that for every keyboard shortcut you use, you save about two seconds. That could add up to an average of 64 hours per year of lost time.

11. Why You May Want to Upgrade

The free version of Evernote has a great set of features that covers a broad range of what most students need for their class notes. 

However, there are a few notable features that might warrant upgrading to Evernote Premium.

  • Offline access: This can be useful for students who want access to their notes while using an internet-blocking app to stay focused.
  • Version histories: Historical info can help you see how documents change so you can revert back when you need to. 
  • Integration with Google Drive: This is especially useful if you’re using Google Docs for a major report or senior thesis and you want full integrative access between your class notes and cloud storage. 

For students, Evernote Premium is half price. The cost would be about $4 per month or $48 per year. Keep in mind that the discount is only available for one year so you could end up paying $96 per year in the future. 

12. Access Your Classmate’s Notes

While many note taking apps offer individualized solutions for better class notes, there are alternative approaches where students can benefit by accessing shared class notes. 

With an app like OneClass, paid note-takers upload high-quality class notes. Users can then access these shared documents to improve their own learning. If you’re struggling with the material, you can avoid falling behind because you’ll have on-demand access to helpful information. Plus, even if you missed class, you can still find out what happened. 

Not all students are skilled note-takers, but with OneClass, you can still have access to high-quality notes. 

While Evernote gives you the tools for taking class notes and organizing information, OneClass gives you access to shared notes so that you can seemingly never miss a class. 

Find out how OneClass’ study resources have helped more than 90 percent of users improve by at least one letter grade. 

Image attribution: THANANIT – stock.adobe.com

5 Best Notetaking Apps for Students in 2020

College is tough, but the right note taking app can help. Find out which apps can help you take better notes, organize information, and stay focused in class.

Today’s note-taking apps make it easy to capture clear and organized class notes without the heft or inconvenience of paper notebooks. Most note-taking apps can sync between multiple devices. Some convert handwriting into searchable text and can integrate alternative media such as photos, audio recordings, files or webpages. 

But which note-taking app is the best? Let’s review the top note-taking apps for 2020. 

Best Overall: Evernote 

Evernote frequently tops lists for the best note taking app, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s got a ton of great features. 

Devices: It’s a cross-platform app, working on either Android or iOS devices, as well as Windows or Mac machines. You can access notes from any device, so if you take notes on a tablet, you can access them later from your laptop. 

Multimedia: Use it as a dictation tool with speech to text, or use ink mode to capture handwritten notes. You can drag and drop files to attach images, Powerpoint slides and more. It even integrates with Web Clipper so you can capture online articles, emails and webpages. You can use Evernote to scan documents. And thanks to Evernote’s optical character reader (OCR) capabilities, images, including handwritten notes, are searchable.

Organization: Evernote helps you keep things organized with folders and tags. For example, you use folders for your subjects to group all of your Economics 101 notes together. You can then use a “Midterms” or “Finals” tag for notes across any of your subjects. You can also add reminders to notes so you’ll know what you need to revisit. Plus, the search feature helps you find notes based on their content. 

Cost: Evernote has a free plan. However, features are limited. For example, with the free version, you can’t see version history, there’s no offline access for mobile, and you can’t integrate with apps like Google Drive or Microsoft Office. Students can get a 50 percent discount on Evernote Premium, which would make your costs $4 per month or $48 per year. Compare features for each plan to see which option is right for you. 

If You’re a G-Suite Fan: Google Keep

Google Keep can be used on either iOS or Android devices. The straightforward note taking app is especially useful if you’re already using G-Suite. Google Keep is even accessible as a sidebar within Gmail. 

Multimedia: Within Google Keep, you can add images, create handwritten notes or drawings, and create to-do lists. You can easily convert a note into a Google Doc. You can transcribe text using Google Assistant’s voice-to-text. Like Evernote, you can also search for text that’s within an image or handwritten note. You can even search for words inside a spoken voice memo. Plus, you can invite other users to collaborate on your notes. 

Organization: The organization format within Google Keep is similar to digital Post-Its. They can be color-coded, you can add labels, and you can pin notes to have easy access. There’s even a reminder feature so you’ll know when you need to follow up on something that happened in class. 

Cost: Like other G-suite products, Google Keep is free. There’s also a Chrome extension for easy access. 

A Favorite of Mac Users: Apple Notes

Apple Notes is pre-installed on most Apple devices including iPhones, iPads and iMacs. That makes it the first choice of many Apple fans. 

Multimedia: Apple Notes relies on the same clean design principles that we expect from Apple. Your notes won’t feel cluttered or chaotic, even after adding images, attachments, scanned documents, website screenshots or handwriting. Plus, you can also use Siri to create new notes or dictate text. 

Organization: To keep your class notes organized, there are category folders and subfolders. A great strategy would be to create a folder for each semester and a subfolder for each course. 

Cost: You can use Apple Notes for free, but usage is a part of the 5GB limit on free iCloud storage. You can upgrade to a paid plan with 50GB of storage for 99 cents per month.

If You’re a Minimalist: Simplenote

Rather than leveraging add-ons and integrations, Simplenote gives you the basics of a blank white page and black text. This minimalist approach is especially useful for students who struggle to stay focused. Rather than distractions, the back-to-basics app can help you pay close attention to what happens in class. 

Multimedia: The straightforward text editor avoids most of the frills. It doesn’t offer the ability to add images or other multimedia files. However, there is a version history feature so you can view changes or revert back as needed.

Organization: Simplenote does offer a tags function so you can sort and organize your class notes. 

Cost: All users get free access, and there are no subscription upgrades. The notes app is put out by Automatic, the folks who make WordPress. The company says there are no limits to how many notes you can make (within reason).

For Group Projects: Dropbox Paper

When you need to brainstorm, share ideas, or collaborate with your classmates, Dropbox Paper provides an integrative and flexible digital workspace.

Multimedia: The app includes a task management tool so you can develop shared to-do lists including due dates and the ability to assign tasks to team members. You can annotate notes to offer feedback and mention collaborators to start a dialogue. You can also sync with your calendar and add many types of content including images, audio files, YouTube videos or other Dropbox files. 

Collaboration: It’s important to note that when using Dropbox Paper, the full name and email address of any Dropbox user who opens the document is visible. While this privacy issue isn’t a problem for small group projects, a commenter on Hacker News noted that if a Paper document has been viewed by a large number of people, you can easily spam them by writing @doc.

Cost: Dropbox Paper is free and accessible via a web browser or apps for iOS or Android.

Runner’s Up

Microsoft OneNote: If you prefer using Microsoft Office apps, there’s a note taking app that lets you stay within the Microsoft sphere. Microsoft OneNote is frequently compared to Evernote because it has a strong set of features including the ability to add photos, audio recordings and hand-written notes. The app is free for students and is included in Office 365 Education.

Notion: In 2019, Notion became free for students. The app has database-like power that lets you keep your notes organized, build tools like a grade calculator, and collaborate with classmates. The downside is that there is so much power, flexibility and versatility, there is a learning curve when you’re getting started. It’s a good choice for those who want customization. Notion is available via mobile apps, desktop apps, or via a web browser. 

Zoho Notebook: Zoho Notebook is similar to Google Keep. The Indian software company Zoho offers the free notetaking app as part of its suite of apps that is similar to Google or Microsoft. It wasn’t designed for collaboration, but its main advantage is its visual organization features and color-coded tabs. You can also use the AI-power voice assistant, Zia, to interact with your notes. 

OneClass: Instead of each student working individually, OneClass helps more students succeed through a shared class noted model. Paid note takers upload their lecture notes within 24 hours of class, allowing other students to stay engaged without worrying about writing things down. It’s become a valuable learning platform across many college campuses, and 90 percent of users have improved by at least one letter grade. 

Discover what OneClass class notes are being used by students at your school. 

Guide for Low Income College Students

There’s a lot at stake for low-income students to get a degree. This guide for low-income college students breaks down the challenges and paths to success.

For low-income college students, the benefits of a degree are strong, but there are significant challenges to earning that diploma. Surprisingly, the challenges aren’t what you’d expect. 

This guide for low-income college students breaks down some of the top issues around admissions, paying for college, and student success. 

What Are the Results of a Low-Income Student Attending College?

The outcomes of college graduates are much different than students who don’t get a degree. After looking into the data, there’s little question about its value. Attending college is worth it, and here’s why:

1. Increased Earnings Potential

College graduates earn more money. On average, the annual earnings of someone with a high school diploma is $37,960. For those with a Bachelor’s degree, earnings jump to $62,296. That’s a 64 percent average increase in earnings, based on education level. 

earnings by education level

2. Expanded Job Opportunities

About 21 percent of entry-level jobs require a college degree. By graduating, a student’s additional qualifications can increase the number of positions for which they’re qualified.

Not only are there more jobs available to college grads, but they may be more likely to get hired. 
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Studies shows that with a Bachelor’s degree, unemployment rates drop by about half. High school graduates have 4.1 percent unemployment, and college grads have an average of 2.2 percent.

unemployment rates college education

3. More Job Satisfaction

Feelings about job satisfaction are also split based on educational attainment. Among those with a high school diploma or less, only 44 percent say they’re “very satisfied” with their current job. This rate jumps to 55 to 56 percent among those who have a college degree or have attended some college.

job satisfaction college education

What Challenges Do College Bound Low-Income Students Face?

There are clear benefits to a college degree. However, for low-income college students, it can be an uphill battle. Here are three specific challenges that low-income students face when considering higher education. 

1. Low-income students are less likely to go to college

“Your income or your family’s wealth is extremely predictive of whether you’re going to go college at all and certainly what program you’re going to do,” said think tank policy analyst Mark Huelsman.

The influence of income on college attendance was measured by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Within three years after high school, 56 percent of the students in the bottom fifth of the income distribution had enrolled in at least some higher education, including community college. In the top fifth of the income distribution, that rate is 93 percent.

college attendance by income level

2. Low income students are less likely to graduate

When looking at graduation rates based on income groups, students in the lowest quartile of socioeconomic status have just a 14 percent graduation rate. Comparatively, the top quartile of income groups has 60 percent. The significant gap shows that challenges persist even after students are enrolled in higher education. 

graduation rates by income level

3. Academic preparation doesn’t close the graduation gap

Good academic performance wasn’t enough to close the graduation gap between income groups. Even low-income students who got good grades were less likely to graduate than their high-income peers. 

NCES reports that when looking specifically at academically strong students who scored in the top quartile in math, low-income students had a 41 percent graduation rate. Comparatively, high-income students had a 74 percent graduation rate.

college graduation rates good grades

How Can Low-Income Students Improve Their Chances of Success?

The challenges are significant, but researchers have identified two things that make a difference. 

1. Seek out knowledgeable resources 

As a low-income student, you could be the first in your family to go to college, or there may be an expectation that you won’t pursue higher education. This could leave you without immediate assistance.

By seeking out supportive role models, you can find support for your goals as well as insider tips on how to navigate the system. For example, a helpful guidance counselor can let you know that the College Board offers fee waivers for low-income students to take the SAT for free.

Ideally, you’ll develop a network of support while still in high school. It could be a mentor, advisor, guidance counselor or teacher. 

If there aren’t people who can help you achieve your education goals, you can still dig into the fine print yourself to learn what you need to know. For example, reading through the financial aid forms will let you know when the deadlines are. 

Continue to use helpful resources after you begin your Freshman year. After arriving on campus, support can help you adjust to the college environment, understand financial aid deadlines, and academic responsibilities. In particular, your school’s Student Support Services program has resources for low-income students.

2. Don’t go it alone

Isolation is a common feeling among low-income college students. However, there is a much larger share of low-income students than there used to be, and there may be more economic diversity within the student body than you realize.

According to Pew Research Center, 39 percent of undergrads are in or near poverty as of 2016. In 1996, this rate was 29 percent.

To counter feelings of isolation, seek out emotional support from on-campus counselors, resident advisors, classmates and friends. Adjusting to college life is difficult for students of all economic backgrounds. With support, you could be more likely to achieve your degree. 

How Can Low-Income College Students Pay for College?

Despite the sticker-price on college tuition, low-income students can still find affordable ways to attend school. Here are three important methods to know about:

1. Financial Aid

A financial aid package can easily reduce a $20,000 tuition rate down to nearly nothing. It all starts with a FAFSA application. After filing the free application, the U.S. Department of Education will advise a school how much you can actually afford to pay for tuition. The college will then send you your financial aid package. This can include Pell Grants, school-administered scholarships and more. 

Financial aid is a great strategy to reduce your financial burden. Data shows that students with a low family income received financial aid at higher rates than other income levels.

2. Student Loans

Student loans are a helpful way to fund your education, and your financial aid package may give you access to low-interest loans.

For low-income independent students, student loans were more common than their higher-income peers. However, low-income dependent students took out student loans at lower rates than other income groups.

3. College Jobs

Work-study is a great way to get a part-time job. Since you’ll be working within your college or university, timing issues such as summer break will be baked into your work environment.

Work-study income is not applied directly to your tuition. Instead, you’ll receive a check that you can use for whatever you want, including day-to-day expenses like housing, food or textbooks. 

Another way to earn money while in college is to seek out opportunities that pay you for things you’re already doing. In our guide to hacking college debt, we compare popular gigs by how much time it takes to earn money. 

One opportunity that stands out is becoming a OneClass official note-taker. You’re already attending your college classes and taking notes. Through the paid note-taker program, you could earn $470 per course by simply uploading your class notes within 24 hours. This means you could earn a couple thousand dollars per year without wasting hours driving for Uber or delivering pizzas. 

As an added benefit, most paid note takers find that the job helps their own grades improve. When it’s your job to go to class, it can help your bank account and your GPA. 

Learn more about how OneClass’ shared class notes are helping students get better grades. 

Image attribution: torwaiphoto – stock.adobe.com

10 Ways For Poor College Students to Afford Rent

Housing is a major expense, but there are a few ways that college students can cut costs and avoid additional debt. Learn the top ways to pay rent in college.

When faced with tuition costs and textbooks, the ability to afford rent can seem like a pipe dream. However, college students have more options than they may realize. 

Whether you’re thinking of living in on-campus housing or renting an off-campus apartment, you’ll face many of the same challenges. And it may not be enough to rely on a personal savings account or help from your parents. 

Let’s review the ten best strategies for poor college students to afford housing costs. 

1. Live at Home or With Family

For many college students, this may seem like the worst option. As a commuter student, you’ll need to get up extra early for your morning classes. Plus, this housing option can be hard on your social life. 

However, it’s impossible to deny the financial benefits of living with your parents or other family members. Any contribution to household expenses will likely be much less than the costs of having your own place. 

A 2019 report from Sallie Mae revealed that 42 percent of college students live with their parents. That’s a sum of the six percent who pay rent while staying with their parents and the 35 percent who live at home rent-free.

Rates of living at home are higher among students attending a community college. For students attending a four-year public college, there’s still 31 percent of students living with parents. 

Interestingly, rates of living at home are higher among students who did not take out student loans. That indicates that students are using their living arrangements as a way to pay for college while avoiding the long-term burden of student debt.

2. Get Roommates to Split Rent

For students living on-campus or in off-campus apartments, having more roommates usually means you’ll pay less rent. 

For example, the 2020 median rent for a one-bedroom is $961 per month. For a two-bedroom, the median rent is $1,192, which would be just $596 if splitting it with a roommate. That’s a 38 percent savings!

Savvy college students can further reduce their living expenses with additional roommates. Couples or close friends can live with two people per bedroom, further reducing the rent that each individual pays.  Plus, some apartments have extra rooms that could be used as bedrooms. 

3. Stick to a Monthly Budget

When in college, it’s easy for monthly expenses to get away from you, and you could be left without enough money to pay your rent at the end of the month. 

By creating a workable monthly budget, you’ll know how much money you have available for each of your expenditures. Be sure to include your fixed costs like your rent, phone bill and internet bill. Establish monthly estimates for bills that fluctuate such as utilities and groceries. 

A budget item that’s unique to college students is semester-related costs such as tuition, textbooks and lab fees. These costs can mean you’ll have major bills to pay at the start of the semester. 

Your financial aid award or work-study income can help offset some of these costs. However, your budget can help you be prepared for the months when you’ll have these major expenses. 

4. Offset Housing Costs with Work Exchange

A great way you can lower your housing costs is through work exchange. 

For students who live on campus, becoming a Resident Advisor in the dorms commonly includes full room and board. Requirements for the position usually include living in the dorm for at least one year. So if you pay on-campus housing costs as a Freshman, you could get hired as an RA and have free housing for the remaining three years of college. 

You can also use work-exchange to reduce rent when living off campus. However, opportunities are less formalized, and you may have to use some negotiation skills. Simply figure out what your landlords need help with and what skills you can offer. 

For example, you can make an arrangement with your landlord to lower your rent if you mow the lawn, shovel snow or perform small maintenance tasks. If you live in a larger apartment, the property management company may need help with their website and social media presence. 

5. Use Student Loans to Pay Rent

Whether you’re living on campus or off campus, student loans can be used to pay for housing costs. 

When living on campus, the fund allocation between tuition and housing happens behind the scenes. As long as your costs are covered through loans, scholarships or other payment methods, you’ll be good to go. 

For off-campus housing, you’ll have to be more hands-on with using loans to pay your rent. Typically, student loan disbursements are issued directly to your college. After your tuition and other school-related fees have been paid, you’ll receive the balance of your loan money as a direct deposit.

This student loan disbursement usually happens in one lump sum after the start of the academic year. This means that if you don’t receive your student loan money until mid-September, you’ll need to be prepared to pay out of pocket for your security deposit and first month’s rent.

Then, after your student loan funds are transferred to your bank account, you’ll have a lot of money on hand. Just remember that this cash will need to last for several months of rent payments. 

While most college students are trying to avoid the long-term financial burden of student debt, keep in mind that paying for housing with student loans is not the worst possible option. 

When tight on cash, some students may opt to pay their rent using a credit card. Typically, interest rates on credit cards are much higher than student loans. The average student loan interest rate is 5.8 percent, but the average interest rate on student credit cards is 19.8 percent. 

6. You May Qualify for Government Assistance

There are a few different ways you can get government assistance for your college housing costs. 

For veterans and service members, the GI Bill covers tuition and fees, and it includes a housing allowance and textbook stipend. 

Section 8 housing could be an option for college students, however, there are limitations. If you’re under age 24, you may need to reference your parents’ income information on your Section 8 application. The traditional income requirements apply to college students who are over age 24.  

College students can also get help paying utility bills from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). 

Section 42 is another method to reduce your housing costs. Rather than paying the market rates for your housing, the program limits your total rent and utility costs to 30 percent of your monthly income. There are restrictions on eligibility. For example, the program doesn’t usually apply to full-time college students who live alone or groups of students living together.

7. Leverage Academic Success for More Funding

How well you perform in your classes can determine your eligibility for scholarships, grants, and fellowships. With GPA requirements being a common qualifier, the higher your grades are, the more financial support you’ll be eligible for.

Not only can you use scholarships and financial aid to avoid additional student loans, but they’re also a common way to help students pay for living expenses.

Savvy college students are making small investments in their academics and seeing dramatic improvements in their grades. For example, a OneClass subscription can cost less than $10 per month with an annual subscription. With millions of college students using the platform, more than 90 percent have improved by at least one letter grade. 

This dramatic GPA improvement can help you to qualify for thousands of new scholarship opportunities, which can help you pay your rent. 

Improving your grades can also have financial benefits in the future. It can help you score internships or land job interviews after you graduate. Good grades could also help you to get noticed by your professors, who can help introduce you to helpful contacts in your field.

8. Get an Easy Side Gig to Earn Rent Money

College life is busy. That’s why the best side gigs are ones that don’t require massive time commitments. 

Side gigs such as driving for Uber will require you to put in the hours in order to earn enough money for rent. However, there are better student gigs that will pay for the things you’re already doing. 

In our guide to hacking college debt, we rounded up some of the best gigs for making money with minimal time investment. For example, some apps will pay you for tracking your steps, making it an easy way to monetize your fitness habit. You can also get paid to play video games with apps like Twitch. 

You can also get paid to go to class. As a OneClass Official Notetaker, students earn an average of $470 per course for something they’re already doing — taking class notes. Class notes can be either typed or neatly written, and the majority of notetakers find that their own grades improve after becoming a paid notetaker. 

9. Become a House Sitter or Pet Sitter

House sitting or pet sitting is a great option for free to low-cost housing. However, you will need to remain somewhat nomadic as you schedule a series of gigs throughout the semester.

Your academic circles can lead you to house sitting opportunities. Professors could take sabbaticals and grad students may take research fellowships. 

Additional house sitting options could come from snowbirds or people who have multiple homes. For example, when retired people are spending their winters in Florida or Arizona, their vacant property could become your affordable housing.

10. Find Low-Cost Housing During Breaks and Summers

Students may also be able to find low-cost housing when many students are not taking classes. 

For example, when students go home for the summer, they may be subletting their apartments, and rates are commonly much lower. Plus, college campuses offer gap housing to students who want to live in the dorms during breaks or after classes end. 

These options won’t be a permanent housing assignment, but you could score a living space for much less than a typical apartment rental. 

Discover what study resources have been shared for your classes on OneClass.

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7 Ways for Broke College Students to Afford Food

From tight budgets to campus hunger, college students can struggle to afford food. You have options besides ramen. Check out these 7 ways to afford food.

What happens when the cost of college competes with everyday expenses? 

Broke college students are increasingly finding it difficult to afford food. In some cases, students face financial juggling to make ends meet. But other situations can be more extreme, with college students being unsure where their next meal is coming from. 

The statistics are shocking. About 45 percent of college students have experienced food insecurity within a one-month timeframe. By definition, that means having limited or uncertain access to nutritious food. For example, students may be skipping meals because they’re low on cash. 

The study from Temple University went further to understand student hunger. Among those students who reported having food or housing insecurity, two-thirds are also employed. Even though they’re earning money, it’s still not enough for the essentials. 

“If I’m sending my kid to college, I want more than a food pantry. I want to know that they’re addressing high food prices on campus and taking steps to ensure no student goes hungry,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor at Temple and the founder of the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice.

When faced with the high cost of tuition, textbooks and student fees, even students on a moderate budget can find themselves struggling. The additional financial burden of student loans can further increase the true cost of higher education. 

What can students do when they can’t afford to eat? Here are the seven best ways for broke college students to afford food. 

1. DIY When You Can

On average, you’ll spend less money on food when you make it yourself. The next best option is to buy prepackaged foods, meal kits or market prepared meals. The most expensive option is to eat out. 

Priceonomics compared the costs of 86 popular meals, and here are the average cost per serving:

  • Home Cooking: $4.31
  • Meal Kit: $12.53
  • Restaurant: $20.37

Notably, the researchers didn’t use the savvy that broke college students use when seeking out cheap meals. 

In the experiment, the ingredients for home-cooked meals were purchased at Whole Foods, which isn’t known for its low prices. The prices for restaurant meals were sourced from national chains like Applebee’s, Cheesecake Factory, Chili’s and P.F. Chang. Those prices would be higher than college favorites like a Chipotle burrito. 

Despite the differences between how college students shop, the ratio of costs still applies. Therefore, college students should expect to spend about five times more to eat out than to cook their own meals. Preparing your own food can help you dramatically reduce your total food costs. 

2. Scout Out Cheap Groceries

Another way for students to make the most of their food budget is to opt for cheap groceries. 

For example, bulk oatmeal, rice, grains, beans, and pasta are cheap staples. Frozen veggies are a fast and cheap source of nutrition, easily transforming into a stir fry. Choose high-value fresh produce like bananas and lettuce. Frozen fruit and peanut butter and quickly turn into a healthy smoothie.

For full-time students who are struggling to afford to eat, consider both the direct cost of the groceries and the time it takes to prepare them. Rather than labor-intensive groceries, you’ll get the most bang for your buck by choosing food that can cook while you’re doing homework. 

3. Deals, Sales and Cash Back

Take advantage of sales. For food items you know you’ll eat, buy in bulk to get good prices. You can stock up on college classics like ramen soup, Easy Mac and coffee. 

You can also get good deals by shopping at discount stores like Aldi, which is the cheaper cousin of Trader Joe’s. These stores commonly have great deals on gluten-free products and other specialty goods. 

You can also earn cashback on groceries by using sItes like Rakuten (formerly Ebates). Current deals include Walmart, Albertsons, Sam’s Club and more

4. Make the Most of Buffet Dining Hall

All-you-can-eat dining halls are not a great deal when you want a quick bite or a small meal. However, it is possible to use buffet dining halls to have a big, hearty meal. You just have to play your cards right so you go to the dining hall on wings night rather than the day they’re serving mystery meatloaf.

You may also be able to get a few meals at the dining hall from friends who have large meal plans. At the end of the semester, some schools have use-it-or-lose-it policies. For students who have lots of meals to use at the end of the semester, it’s better to swipe someone through than to pay for uneaten meals. 

There are even organized programs to help college students distribute unused meal credits or swipes. Swipe Out Hunger is a non-profit student-driven organization that collects unused meal swipes at the dining hall. They’re already at 80 college campuses. 

Among students who have received free swipes, the non-profit reports 70 percent have less stress about where they would get their next meal, and more than 50 percent reported higher class attendance.

5. Access Resources

Food assistance can be more complicated for students. You could be in a new city and don’t know where in the community you can go to get help. Plus, in some states, there can be additional regulations for getting government assistance, and it’s not always clear if your work-study hours meet the work requirements.

On-campus social workers are valuable resources to help address student hunger. Unlike financial aid officers who specifically focus on the cost of tuition, social workers can help you to understand available resources and navigate solutions like emergency SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).  

Currently, about 30 percent of college students experiencing food insecurity are using food stamps. Still, many don’t use the safety net. More than half of low-income college students don’t participate in the food stamp program even though they qualify for it.

There may even be an on-campus food pantry you can access right away. Plus you can find a local food bank by searching on Feeding America.

6. Score Free Food

Many on-campus events offer free food to entice people to show up. By stopping by these student events, you can get free pizza, snacks or ice cream. 

You can also score free food by visiting local shops that make fresh food daily. For example, bakeries or bagel shops may be giving away free food when they’re closing up for the day.

7. Find a Gig to Cover Food Costs

There are a few easy gigs that can cover your food costs. 

One option is to become a resident advisor. Typically, these roles include room and board. That means your housing and meals will be covered in exchange for your supervisory role in the dorms. 

Another popular option is to become a paid notetaker for OneClass. The app pays students to go to class, and students can earn $470 per course for uploading their lecture notes. One student attending the University of California-Davis told Reader’s Digest that she made $1,500 in less than a year. 

In addition to the cash you earn, paid note-takers find that when their job is tied to their classwork, their grades improve. The majority of OneClass note-takers report seeing a significant GPA improvement, and some note-takers improve by as much as three grade points.

Learn more about how OneClass is helping students succeed in college.

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