For some people, Google isn’t just a search engine, but a collection of apps and tools that help us in our daily lives. Google offers us some amazing tools beyond just being a leader in search traffic and owning a little known video outlet called YouTube. These tools can be used in daily life and some people find them to be essential. Take education, for example. I’m a college student who has a very tight budget, so I, like many other people, may not be able to afford Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office’s collection of productivity software is essential in writing essays and other software to keep us organized. For those on a budget or who want a solution to keep everything in the cloud, we bring you a guide on Google’s extensive product list that you can use to do almost everything — for free.
The following list is a collection of Google’s apps that I’ve found useful as a college student, and how you can use them for your daily education and work needs.
Google Docs is an easy one. It provides a suite of software all at your fingertips on the Web. Google Docs allows you to create Word-compatible documents — like that final essay for your physics class that you’re typing up the day before it’s due. The spreadsheet app, like Excel, can help you (for instance) keep a list of all your college expenses and how much money in tuition and housing you have and still have to pay. Presentation will create some good looking, PowerPoint-type presentations for your marketing class. Drawing is a fun app for doodling out that comic you’ve been working on for arts. Google Docs is an amazing productivity suite in the cloud and won’t disappoint you when you’re working on your next assignment. One of the best things about Google Docs is its set of collaboration tools that allow you to edit documents with partners in real time.
Google Calendar is one that I’ve found myself using on a constant basis. The biggest thing it can be used for is time scheduling. For instance, you can input all of your classes and times as reoccurring weekly events until classes are over and use it to see what you have upcoming. It can even help you so you can take a quick glance at it to see if you can make it to that party after class. I’ve gotten great use out of Google Calendar, and you should, too.
Gmail may not be quite as obvious as an educational tool, but here’s one way it can be used as such. Try creating a school-only email address for yourself. This is an email address that you only use for school-related activities; this way you can keep all of your school stuff organized in one mailbox and all the utilities you use from all of these methods are kept in one place. I’m sure that you have at least one email account and maybe more; it’s very easy to set up a Gmail account and attach it to a mail client. Try it out and you won’t regret it.
Google Tasks is more of a feature built into Gmail, but it’s so big that it deserves its own call out. I find myself constantly making to do lists on sticky notes and posting them everywhere. Google Tasks makes it easy to create tasks and organize them by when they are due and it’ll even remind you when they’re coming up if you’ve set a due date. Add tasks like when homework is due, chapters you have to read in a book, or even a list for grocery shopping.
Google Chrome is not necessarily a tool, but a way that everything can be accessed. I’ve been using Google Chrome since the early days and I’ve always loved its speed and simplicity. I’ve never felt overwhelmed by the browser and what’s even better is that each tab on Google Chrome is self contained. If a website crashes on you, it doesn’t bring your entire browser with it; it’ll only kill off that tab that is running. Google Chrome also has an extensive extension library filled with all kinds of apps, including ones to access and organize sections of Google mentioned here.
Google Scholar is an education-based library of books and more books. When writing that term paper that requires tons of sources from not only the Internet but actual, physical books, I mean… who uses books anymore? You can use Google Scholar to search books for supporting your topic and quote and cite them accordingly. It’s been a great tool and has saved me many trips to the library that’s right across the street.
Google Groups can come in handy as a study tool. Consider talking with your professor and setting up an official class group so that you and your classmates can join and get help from your teacher or each other. My economics teacher uses Google Groups for his class and it has been a tremendous study aid and place to seek help. You don’t even need your teacher to join, although it would be nice.
Google Product Search can be very helpful at the beginning of the year, or halfway through, to find textbooks that you need for classes. Your college or school might offer buying options, but they might not always be the cheapest. Using Google Product Search, you can search by the title of the book or its ISBN number and it’ll show you all the results; if you’re lucky, you can find that $200 textbook at half off.
Google Flight Search is great for those who go to school far from home or are planning spring break. I happen to live on the complete other side of the state from my family — that’s about a six or seven hour car drive. With the price of gas and my mother’s worries about me driving across the state, Google Flight Search has helped me find great prices for flying home when I don’t have school. It’s also a great time now to start finding flights for spring break down to Florida or maybe Cancun.
Google has a vast array of different tools and products for you to use in different parts of your life. I’ve just named a few that happen to help out a majority of the school students. There are more out there and I invite you to let us know what you use from Google’s product lineup, and how you use them.