Best iPhone and iPad apps for college students: Start the school year off right!

11-inch iPad Pro
11-inch iPad Pro (Image credit: iMore)

It's that time of year again — the school year is about to start up once more. However, things may be a little different going forward, as more campuses and schools are offering many more online classes.

You'll need an arsenal of powerful apps to help you get through each semester or quarter, so here are the best iPhone and iPad apps to help you in college.

Pages, Keynote, and Numbers

Pages Keynote Numbers Screens

Pages Keynote Numbers Screens (Image credit: Apple)

If you're in college classes, the chances are high that you're going to need a word processor, presentation creator, or spreadsheet application. And if you're working with your iPhone or iPad (or even a Mac), then there is nothing better than Apple's own suite of office software.

Pages is Apple's word processor that does all of the same things that you can find in Microsoft Word, but in a sleeker interface that is easy to use. Keynote is like PowerPoint, but much more streamlined and fun to use. And Numbers is just like Excel, so you can create spreadsheets to your heart's content. And all three of these programs can save files that are compatible with Microsoft Office as well, if you need to submit files online as a .doc file or similar, for example.

Create research papers, resumes, digital books, posters, and much more with ease. (opens in new tab)


Create research papers, resumes, digital books, posters, and much more with ease.

Impress the class with standout presentations in Keynote. (opens in new tab)


Impress the class with standout presentations in Keynote.

Make spreadsheets for all the data you need, complete with basic formulations, graphs, and charts. (opens in new tab)


Make spreadsheets for all the data you need, complete with basic formulations, graphs, and charts.

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office Screens

Microsoft Office Screens (Image credit: Microsoft)

If you're used to Microsoft Office or just don't want to use Apple's own software, then you can grab Microsoft Office. This app contains Word, PowerPoint, and Excel in one app, but you can also grab them individually on the App Store as well.

With the Microsoft Office app, you get Word, PowerPoint, and Excel in one place. You can create, edit, and even collaborate with others in real-time, but a Microsoft 365 subscription may be required to access some premium features. Still, you can use the app to view and create documents without paying anything.

This app contains Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel in one place. (opens in new tab)


This app contains Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel in one place.

Evernote

Evernote Screens

Evernote Screens (Image credit: Evernote)

When it comes to digital note-taking, it's hard to beat Evernote. Not only is it available on iPhone and iPad, but it's also available on Android, PC, and Mac, and the web — so you can access it anywhere.

Evernote lets you create notebooks for easy organization, and notes can consist of plain text, formatted text, web snippets from the clipper, photos, entire web pages, audio — you name it. And the best part is that everything that you put into Evernote becomes searchable, so you can search by keyword to find what you need. There is seamless syncing across all of your devices and while there are paid plans, you should have a good amount of space for free every month.

Evernote can store pretty much anything into organized notebooks, and you can search for what you need. (opens in new tab)


Evernote can store pretty much anything into organized notebooks, and you can search for what you need.

Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft Onenote Screens

Microsoft Onenote Screens (Image credit: Microsoft)

For those who are invested in the Microsoft ecosystem, then OneNote is an excellent alternative to Evernote. With OneNote, you can create an unlimited number of digital notebooks for every subject you're taking, and take notes in an organized fashion.

OneNote lets students type out notes, as well as handwrite them in, sketch diagrams, import photos, collaborate with others, and more. There is also a Sticky Notes feature that lets you save notes for easy reference later, and they are synced to all of your devices. You can download OneNote for free and use it with your Microsoft Account or even an account that is assigned to you by your school.

OneNote is your digital notebook for school. Type and write notes, draw and sketch diagrams, import photos, and annotate — it's everything you need. (opens in new tab)


OneNote is your digital notebook for school. Type and write notes, draw and sketch diagrams, import photos, and annotate — it's everything you need.

Dropbox

Dropbox Screens

Dropbox Screens (Image credit: iMore)

You're bound to end up with a lot of files and documents for school, so you'll want a good cloud storage service. One of our favorites is Dropbox because once you upload your files to Dropbox, you're able to access them on practically any device. Dropbox also has seamless integration with a lot of existing third-party apps as well, giving you a ton of flexibility when it comes to choosing what apps to use to get things done. You can also share files with others quite easily, making this a great tool for collaboration.

Dropbox has a free tier with 2GB of storage, which isn't a lot, but you can get more space with referrals. However, we recommend signing up for one of their tiered plans, which starts at 2TB for $12 a month. Considering the ubiquity and versatility, Dropbox is well worth paying for.

Dropbox is a cloud syncing service where you can upload pretty much anything you need and access your files from anywhere. It also has great sharing and collaboration options. (opens in new tab)


Dropbox is a cloud syncing service where you can upload pretty much anything you need and access your files from anywhere. It also has great sharing and collaboration options.

PCalc

Pcalc Screens

Pcalc Screens (Image credit: TLASystems Ltd.)

Chances are high that you'll be taking a math class of some sort, especially if you're an undergrad. If that's the case, you may want to have a powerful calculator on your iPhone and iPad, and it's hard to beat PCalc.

With PCalc, you're getting a feature-rich calculator that is capable of basic calculations all the way up to more advanced equations. It has an optional RPN mode as well as a multi-line display, customizable button layouts, unit conversions, and constants, paper tape, multiple undo and redo, engineering and scientific notation, hexadecimal support, and binary calculations. PCalc is great for scientists, engineers, students, programmers, and anyone else who wants a powerful calculator.

PCalc is a powerful calculator that will calculate anything you need it for, from basic math to complex equations. (opens in new tab)


PCalc is a powerful calculator that will calculate anything you need it for, from basic math to complex equations.

Screens VNC

Screens Vnc Screens

Screens Vnc Screens (Image credit: Edovia Inc.)

While services like Dropbox are great for accessing our files from any device, what about using our apps on desktop computers? If you have Screens VNC, then it's entirely possible.

Screens VNC allows you to connect to your computer from anywhere in the world at any time. With Screens VNC, you can update your computer even when you're away from it, work with your computer software, and even access files that may not be in the cloud. All you need to do is download Screens, set up an account, and connect. You will need Screens VNC on both your iPhone or iPad as well as your Mac or PC.

Connect and control your computer anywhere in the world from your iPhone or iPad. (opens in new tab)


Connect and control your computer anywhere in the world from your iPhone or iPad.

Get back to school!

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If you have a new iPhone or iPad and you're about to go back to school, all the apps listed above are perfect for helping you with your studies.

Of course, if you're in a creative program, especially in the digital design field, you may want to check out some of the best drawing apps for iPad, as they will offer you a ton of great tools to sketch, paint, or draw right on your best iPad.

Updated June 2022: Updated to include our top picks for iOS 15 and iPadOS.