CAP 5.0 – Something everyone hopes to achieve when they first stepped into University. Most of us know that it is impossible after Sem 1. If you are wondering what CAP is, it is the term for GPA in NUS. And yes. The highest GPA in SMU is 4.0. While it is near impossible to get a perfect 5.0, we can still strive to get a 2nd Upper or 1st Class Honours. If your aim upon graduation is to work in a prestigious organisation, an honours degree will undoubtedly prove invaluable in achieving that dream. Luckily for us, there are various applications and extensions out there that can help us tremendously to reach our goal. Below are some of our favourites.
1. Microsoft Office
We are sure all of you know what Microsoft Office is. Word for all our papers, Powerpoint for presentations, Excel for calculating data, etc. But do you know you can get it for free? Yes, completely free! And no, we are not teaching you how to get it illegally nor do we encourage it. Many of the Universities in Singapore do provide their students with free Microsoft Office 365 for free. (It’s probably accounted in the tuition or miscellaneous fees) All you need to do is to head down to your school website and follow the instructions carefully. In most cases, it only involves logging in with your school email. If you are an NUS, NTU, SMU or SUTD student (we are unable to find any info on SUTD website, but it SHOULD be free according to this person), just click on the hyperlink and follow the steps.
Some Universities also provide other free software. If any of them is required for your studies, you can check with your department on how to get them. If you hate Microsoft for unspecified reasons, there are other free alternatives too. LibreOffice and OpenOffice are the ones we recommend.
You will be writing lots of papers. Reflection papers, reports, essays, thesis… the list goes on and on. And most of the time there will be something like ” Although this is an XXX module, grammatical English is required. Erh… just when we thought we are done with that after the torturous GP lessons. The built-in grammar checker in Microsoft Office is too primitive and can only detect simple grammatical errors. Grammarly is a tonne better. Not only is it able to detect most of your grammatical errors, but it can also identify advanced errors such as sentence structure, grammar, punctuation errors, overused words, “possibly confused words” and much more.
Another plus point is that you can integrate it as a plugin for Microsoft Word. However, most of the sophisticated features are only available on the premium version. The annual plan cost $139.95 (in USD) per month, but we definitely recommend it. Think of it this way — You are paying $139.95 a year for an English tuition teacher who doesn’t nag. Do note that you still need to check your work once more after running it through Grammarly. It is no way as perfect as a human proofreader, but it just makes your life so much easier.
The only reason why some of us use Telegram is that it’s straightforward to join groups and the bots. There are groups specifically for University students too! In NUS, there is an NUS Buffet Response Team which mainly shares free food lobangs. There is a similar group in NTU as well. College Laundry is a bot that tracks your laundry in NUS. Back to NTU, NTU Bus Arrival Bot does what it is supposed to do. SMU is currently developing an interesting Telegram bot. Unfortunately, we are not aware of any Telegram groups/bots in SUTD or SMU. Do inform us if you know any of them. There is also a group called [SG] Uber/Grab/Taxi which shares Uber, Grab and Taxi promo codes. It is useful if you are unable to make it on time for lecture/ tutorial and you want a cheaper (or even free) ride.
Evernote is one of the most used note-taking apps for a reason. It is packed with tonnes of features. Need to copy something down fast? You can either type it out or use the handwriting option. Need to add a photo, video or even audio? Evernote got it covered! And of course, you can create multiple subfolders to organise your notes. Cross-platform support is also available. Whatever you type or note down on your laptop will be accessible on all your other devices. There is also built-in reminder features where you can use it to send email reminders to yourself. Here are several reasons why one of our writers prefers Evernote instead of using paper:
- Save money on foolscap paper
- At the same time, save the Earth
- His handwriting is terrible (Confirmed by his parents and all his teachers and friends)
- Control + F
If you are the type who prefer a hardcopy, you can always print out after finalising your notes. Alternatively, you can also check out Google Keep.
We briefly touched on “Reminders” just now. Sometimes, there are just so much different tasks to complete, and it will be better if there is something to remind us. Todoist will be a right choice here. Besides, doing what it is intended to do, Todoist provides integration with many popular apps. Some examples are Google Calendar, Slack and Gmail. Both mobile and web version are in sync so you can update your Todoist anywhere. Todoist also provides the option to pester you via SMS or Email. A fun feature is the Karma Point system. The more tasks you complete, the more points you have. It is effortless to use and definitely something you should consider getting.
You received a notification on Facebook from a friend who is sharing a video with you. It’s only 5 minutes long; surely I can study after this 5 minutes. 5 minutes later, you received a Whatsapp message. Ok, I will entertain my friend for 10 minutes and get back to study. Another friend hit you up to play a game of DOTA. I will play a game, and I will start studying. Maybe one more game… Look, it’s time for dinner, study shows that studying on an empty stomach is unproductive. After dinner, the vicious cycle repeats… All of us have experienced being distracted while studying. Some more often than the others.
StayFocusd is here to save the day. It is a chrome extension, that acts like your mum that warns you: “You can only spend 1 hour on your computer today.” You set a time limit to whichever site you want. After the period is up, you will be blocked from the site. As most of the resources are online for University students, it is essential to install this extension so we will not drift away so easily while surfing the net.
7. Cite This For Me: Web Citer
While writing your research papers, you will be required to cite your sources. This is to ensure that you do not pull your arguments out of thin air and also to credit the author. However, for those not used to citing, it can be quite a tedious task, Here’s where Cite This For Me: Web Citer comes in. The extensions simply generate a citation in various formats for you to use. No more typing and filling in the blanks on Microsoft Office.
8. Google Public Data/ Singstats
Well, these are not apps or extensions but are actual databases. On the topic of research, you will need lots credible data. Hence, using any random data you have googled is not an option. More often than not, we use official stats from government agencies or educational institutions. Google Public Data is a collection of publicly available data while Singstats is mainly used for data related to Singapore. Obviously, these aren’t the only two reliable sources you should depend on. As a University student, you should be able to judge and sift out the best sources for your usage.
Apps, extensions and websites will surely make your life slightly easier.
Then again, always remember this quote by Tom Petty:
P.S. we are not attempting to influence the bell curve with this quote.
What other tools do you use? Let us know in the comments!