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7 apps to make your university life easier

Concordia's student success mentors share a shortlist of crucial back-to-school downloads
August 22, 2016
By Meagan Boisse

Student success mentor Petio Petrov: “As a student, apps saved my life.” Student success mentor Petio Petrov: “As a student, apps saved my life.”

It’s hard not to appreciate the value of mobile apps — those nifty little bits of software with the power to turn your phone or tablet into a digital tool belt.

However, with over two million individual options available from the App Store alone it can be a daunting task to narrow down which ones are worthy of downloading.

“As a student, apps saved my life,” says student success mentor Petio Petrov, who is pursuing a BA in psychology.

“I started using them in Cegep to keep track of my classes, and haven’t stopped since. But more than once I have downloaded one just because it sounds awesome, only to notice with time that it ends up being an inconvenience rather than a help.”

To save you the hassle of this trial-and-error process, Petrov and his colleagues at Concordia’s Student Success Centre have drawn up a list of what they consider the best student apps.

From staying on top of your studies to staying healthy, here are their recommendations.

Productivity tools

Microsoft Office 365

Did you know that if you activate your Concordia student email you’re automatically able to download Office 365 ProPlus Suite? And you can install it on up to five devices!

This means you gain access to such school-time staples as Word, Excel and PowerPoint — all of which are available in app format and provide easy-to-use tools for creation, editing and collaboration. 


It’s no secret that many students struggle with the temptation to constantly check social media.

That’s why Petrov recommends Forest.

The app provides an innovative self-motivation mechanism to counter phone addiction, and sees users plant a seed on their home screen, which grows into a tree over the course of 30 minutes. However, if the user leaves the app during that half-hour, whether to go on Instagram or play Pokémon Go, the tree will whither. 

“It’s an awesome accompanying app to any pomodoro-style study session. For increased efficacy, make it a competition amongst your friends: who will grow the largest forest,” suggests Petrov.


Evernote is a cross-platform app designed for note taking, organizing and archiving. The app lets users create notes, which can take the form of text, webpage, photograph, voice memo and more.

File attachments can easily be inserted, and individual notes can be stacked together and sorted into a “notebook,” a feature that includes tagging, annotation, comment and search features.

Health and wellness


Eating in moderation can be tricky when you’re in the full swing of a school term — who has time to keep track?

Luckily, there’s an app for that. The fitness guide and calorie counter MyFitnessPal features the food provided by Aramark Canada across Concordia’s two campuses, at eight locations including Buzz Bistro and the Rez Café.

Concordians can track their caloric consumption by choosing specific Aramark menu items from a list and keeping a daily total, divided by breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sleep Cycle

If, like many other students, you struggle to pull yourself out of bed in the morning then you might want to consider changing your alarm.

Sleep Cycle is an intelligent clock that analyzes your movements in order to wake you during your lightest sleep phase. This means that as opposed to feeling like you’re on the brink of death you can now start the day rested and relaxed.

“I have terrible sleep, and Sleep Cycle is the single best app that keeps me sane,” says Petrov. “I feel the difference throughout the day and it’s astonishing!”

City life

Spaceteam ESL

Learning English as a second language can be challenging, but thankfully Spaceteam ESL makes it enjoyable.

Created by David Waddington and Walcir Cardoso from Concordia’s Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance, Spaceteam ESL puts a linguistic spin on the hit multiplayer game and currently boasts a four-star review on Google Play.

“If you’re an ESL student, it's one of the most fun free ways to practise the language you want to acquire,” says Waddington.

Working in groups of two to four, Spaceteam ESL players receive English instructions on their phones about how to fly their spaceship. They must then translate, collaborate and act together to avoid danger.

“This app throws you into an entertaining situation and you learn in the course of play. It’s a powerful tool that provides authentic language learning anywhere.”

Waddington says the app is also available for tablet and that a French language version should be released this fall.


Is your campus destination closed due to bad weather, or a security situation? Find out before you get there with the Alertus app for smartphones and tablets.

For detailed instructions, visit Concordia's Emergency alerts page. Also be sure to sign up for Concordia’s SMS service on your MyConcordia portal to receive a text message if one of your classes is cancelled.


Find out more about the services available at Concordia’s Student Success Centre.


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