Essential College Freshman Phone Apps

As my freshman year comes to a close, I’ve accumulated a list of my favorite phone apps that every freshman will need for their first year at college. Some of these are truly game changers and I highly recommend them.

The Basics

1. Google Calendar

Google Calendar is my holy grail. I’m not sure if I would actually be a fully functioning student without it. College life is hectic, and having a Google Calendar to remind you of where you need to be at each time of the day is so helpful for staying on top of things.

2. Google Maps

This is a no-brainer. When starting university for the first time, you will get really lost before you find your way around campus. You need Google Maps. If you go to a big school like me, you will continue to get lost for the next three years too. Google Maps is the easiest way to get you places quickly and without hassle.

3. Calculator

You’d be surprised at how often you need a calculator. As embarrassing as this is, sometimes it’s hard to do arithmetic on the spot for when you need to split a check amongst a group of people or if you need to calculate how much money you have left in your meal swipe if you’re not eating at a dining hall. Don’t be ashamed to pull this out sometimes, your life might get a little easier.

4. Email

Emails are so important in college. In your academic and professional career, all of your professors and bosses will reach out to you through email at one point or another. Make sure you check your email and have those notifications on! You never know when a class will get canceled last minute or you’ll get that one email about that job you’ve always wanted!

5. Weather

Being able to easily check the weather is absolutely necessary for college. You never know where the day will take you on the campus and you will need to know if you need to bring an umbrella, wear an extra layer, etc. I personally use The Weather Channel app because I prefer it over the one that comes on my phone, but any weather app will do.

6. Bank 

If you have a bank account, use a card around campus, or have a job, you need to download your bank app. Keeping track of your money definitely helps you limit spending and gives you a sense of independence.


Group Communication

1. Slack

Many of my more professional clubs and groups use slack for communication. It is designed well with the ability to be in a big group with smaller channels within each group. It’s a little intimidating to use at first, but well-organized for big organizations and easy-to-use once you get used to it.

2. GroupMe

GroupMe is an app that is similar to any group messaging platform. In my personal experience, GroupMe is used fairly universally on most college campuses and it is helpful to have to communicate with some of your groups.

3. Facebook Messenger

Messenger is a great way to text people when you do not have their numbers or to have big group chats as well. People often find people on Facebook and then message them on Messenger when they have something to ask about.

4. Zoom

Zoom is a new one for me. Ever since the coronavirus shut down our campus, we have switched to zoom to do all of our classes. Zoom is a video conferencing platform that offers things like screen share, chat, and the ability to raise your hand. Since playing around on Zoom, I have found myself really enjoying it. It’s easy to use and definitely a nice and professional video conferencing platform. In the future, even when school is no longer online, I will continue to use Zoom for meetings and conferences if they need to be virtual.



1. Facebook

So many university things are posted on Facebook. It seems like I have a FB group for every club that I’m in and they all make announcements there. If you didn’t use FB much in high school, it’s definitely helpful to make one for college, at least from my experience.

2. Instagram

While campus organizations usually post to Facebook with updates, they often also post to Instagram as well. Staying active on social media in general, be it FB or IG, has helped me a lot to know what was happening on campus at all times so that I could update my Google Calendar so that I would not be missing out on any events.

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is essential to any university student’s professional career. LinkedIn is a great platform for networking, learning through it’s LinkedIn Learning feature, and applying for opportunities.

4. Venmo

Everyone in college uses Venmo. I went quite long without it but after getting it, I really see how helpful it is. Splitting the cost of food especially with your friends is very common in college and Venmo is just the easiest way to pay them back.



1. Morning Brew

I subscribed to Morning Brew a few months ago and I’ve enjoyed my experience with it so far has been pretty good. I like to get an email from Morning Brew every morning about some of the latest news in business. I think that it has helped me to 1.) be less bored on bus rides and 2.) sound more informed in my day-to-day conversations.

2. CNN

Keeping up with the news is important, I like that CNN obnoxiously spams my notifications with breaking news alerts.

3. New York Times

I like the New York Times for reading things beyond just the news. I am a fan of many of the Op-Ed articles and enjoy some light reading of the New York Times when I’m stuck in traffic on the bus or before I go to sleep.

4. Wall Street Journal

Many universities offer a free subscription for students to WSJ. If your university has that available, make sure you take advantage!


University-Specific Apps

1. General University 

My school, Rutgers University, has a general app called the “Rutgers App” where students can see many things. We can track the buses, check how many meal swipes we have left, or view our schedules. Definitely download your university app if there is one for easy access to the basics.

2. Bus Tracker

This is a no-brainer. If you rely on buses to move around the school, you need this.

3. Gym

Going to the gym is an important part of my university life. Having the app is useful for knowing when and where all my favorite classes are happening. My personal favorite classes are BodyPump (full-body cardio with weights) and BodyFlow (a variation of yoga). If you go to the gym at your school, specifically to take gym courses, get this app!

4. Mailbox Locker

At Rutgers, we use an app to get notifications for when we receive a package and that same app to unlock the locker when we go to our mailboxes. I was scared to get things shipped to the school for a few weeks at the beginning of the year, but if your school has a locker app and has a system anything like ours, it is so easy to pick up your stuff!


Other Personal Favorites

1. Uber 

Sometimes the bus is coming in 30 minutes and your interview is happening in 20 minutes. Or when you want to somewhere off-campus and you don’t have your car with you. Rideshare is the most convenient way of getting around sometimes. It can get pricey sometimes though, make sure you split it with your friends when you can!

2. UberEats

Food delivery is also an integral part of most students’ lives. When it’s finals season and you’re starving at the library at 2 a.m., you just don’t have time to pick up food.

3. Robinhood

If you’re interested in getting your feet wet in investing, Robinhood is a crowd favorite. Easy to use and simple to understand. I really like that it notifies me with stock summaries for when I’m too busy to watch them.

4. Clue

Ladies, if you menstruate, you need a period tracker. I have been using Clue for many years and have enjoyed it thus far. In college, you do not want to be caught off guard with your period. Sometimes, you will not be able to go back to your dorm and get your stuff together or change! Keep track of it in an app like Clue and you will always be prepared.


As I continue my college career, I know that I will learn about more essential applications for your phone. Thus far, these have been some of my favorites this year and I hope you found this list helpful. Try these apps out for a smooth freshman year at university and let me know if I’ve missed any of your favorite apps!




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