The best way to use your $100 Apple Gift Card on apps for College

Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way first. Students, do yourself a favor and buy each of the iWork apps. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are $20 a pop and give you software that puts Microsoft Office to shame. Ask your friends who’ve had Macs for years, iWork rocks. It’ll open and share to Office, makes documents and presentations that are actually aesthetically pleasing, and it is much easier & faster to use. You'll never go to Office again. Now, let’s talk about a great freebie: Evernote. Think of it as your digital notebook. Every handout I receive, every website of research, and scanned books from the library get added to my Evernote. Some of my classmates will type in their class notes into it as well. Everything syncs to the cloud, so you can access it using your school’s crappy computer lap PCs, an iPod touch, and iPad. Simply lovely. Another free app is Alfred. Kind of a tool for dorks, but sometimes dorks have good taste. Think of Alfred as your search bar for everything. Amazon books, files on your Mac, websites, iTunes playlists, etc. Everything. There are also a ton of flashcard apps out there. Mental Case has saved me several times when studying for quizzes and finals. It has a powerful quizzing method, easy to create cards, and works with a Mac. Right now, it’s $20. This gives leaves you with $20 left on your card. My advice is buy a $10 journaling program called Day One. You want to remember these years, right?! This gorgeous app can be password protected and also syncs to iOS devices for mobile entries. The last $10 can be spent on my new favorite photo editor, called Flare. You know all those photo effects camera apps for the iPhone? It’s like that but for the Mac. Way more filters, good sharing tools, and can compliment iPhoto well. Now, I should also say this. The best way to juggle every syllabus, project, and club duties is with a task management app. The good ones cost a decent chunk of change, but perhaps preventing headaches and staying on top of everything is worth it to you. The one I use is called Things and it goes for $50. In my opinion, it's the best looking to-do list manager and is well worth the money. Of course, at this point in the article, we've passed the $100 mark, so you won't hurt my feelings if you don't get it. But all those other apps I mentioned? You better grab those.

Rick Stawarz

Minneapolis, MN

I am an Apple Certified Support Professional with over a decade of experience supporting families, schools, and businesses. Tech has always captured my imagination, but it's not my only passion. I'm an ordained Anglican minister;  Aeropress is a daily ritual of mine; I've driven across Mongolia; and I'm the father of three girls. I hope to provide for you a balanced and realistic perspective into the practicality of technology.