Conquer the back to school blues with Google tools
August is both an end to the lush freedom of summer and the beginning of another year of student life. As a rising senior at the University of Florida, this time is both exciting and anxiety-inducing. Even though I’m looking forward to many aspects of the school year, there are certain things about college—from book budgets to calculus study sessions—that can make it a headache.
But this fall, I feel more prepared to face the daily student grind. This summer, I had the chance to intern on the communications team at Google and got the inside track on some tools and tricks to make school a snap. For example, did you know there was an extension for Chrome that helps you stay focused on your work? Yup, didn’t think so! So I thought I’d share some of my new favorite tips—my “Survival Guide for Student Life”—to help make it easier for all students to get through the coming months.
Easy ways to coordinate your social and extracurricular life
- Google+ Hangouts enables you to video chat with up to nine friends from your desktop, mobile phone or tablet. A great feature for when your club needs to discuss some last minute changes for the upcoming meeting.
- Stay on task with Hangout Apps like Symphonical, which provides a digital wall of sticky notes for virtual brainstorm sessions.
- With Google+ Events, invite all your friends to your get-together and attach a personalized video greeting to the invitation. During the event, photos from the party can be uploaded to the event page in real-time using Party Mode. So if you have to miss a party due to a study session, you can avoid that pesky FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)!
- Let your friends know what you’re up to by sharing your Google Calendar with them. Or create a shared calendar just for your study group.
Stay organized and efficient—and be prepared for the unexpected
- Stop the email flood from the ridiculous number of email lists you signed up for using Gmail’s auto-unsubscribe feature.
- No more sore eyes from crowded inboxes—Gmail's default mode is Priority Inbox so it automatically sorts your important messages for you.
- Cite your sources! Use Google Docs’ research tool to investigate highlighted portions of your essay and then generate a citation.
- Group projects call for collaboration. With Google Drive, you can use shared folders so everyone can access materials without having to email updates to each other.
- Using your laptop or phone, you can send any documents or presentations saved on your Google Drive to Fedex to be printed, thanks to Google Cloud Print.
Get what you need and where you’re going faster
- For those of you starting at university this year, Google Maps has 360-degree panoramic Street View imagery for many campuses around the world to give you a preview of your new stomping grounds.
- Back to school shopping is one of the most fun things about August. Find your way in and out of malls and department stores with indoor Google Maps on Android devices.
- We college students can’t go too long without homemade food. Search for your next flight home with Flight Search. (If flying makes you a bit queasy, track any care packages by typing the tracking code into the Google search bar.)
- Stay informed with Google Now. This feature, available on Android devices running Jelly Bean, can update you when the next bus is coming or provide the weather forecast for Saturday’s big game.
Reading, writing, 'rithmetic and... YouTube
- Don’t break the bank on textbooks. Google Play has millions of FREE (emphasis is important) books readily available such as "Pride and Prejudice" and "Gulliver’s Travels."
- With the new Nexus 7 tablet, you can take your Google Play books, music, movies, TV shows, magazines and apps (like My Majors and doubleTwist Alarm Clock) with you, wherever you go.
- Locate hard-to-find books online or at a library near you with Book Search.
- Put Chrome to work with educational apps.
- Not a fan of traditional note taking? Chromebooks are a super fast and virus-proof laptop. It starts seconds after you boot it and will last through a whole day of classes.
- A fair portion of us students aren’t fans of mental math. Type any equation into the Google search box to get the answers you need. It can graph functions as well.
- We know we spend too much of our time watching funny videos on YouTube, but there are video channels that can actually help us learn more about a variety of subjects—from astrophysics to world history. Find more educational channels at YouTube EDU.
I’m resting a bit easier now that I know there are tools that make student life a bit less overwhelming. Here’s hoping you, too, feel armed to face the fall semester—and beyond—with Google in your backpack.