The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Make Your Smartphone a Tool, Not a Distraction

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iPhone in a box

Smartphones today are just as powerful as full-fledged computers, so using them the right way can exponentially increase productivity and success as a UMass student. During my time at UMass Amherst, I have developed skills in order to make my device an efficiency machine instead of a blatant distraction.


Microsoft Office and Google Drive

Almost every single class at UMass will utilize online software to distribute documents, PowerPoints, and assignments. It’s absolutely essential to have the entire Microsoft Office Suite, as well as Google Drive, and all of its sister applications on your smartphone. One day in particular, I had an exam in which I was ill-prepared. To make matters worse, my laptop was dead, and I was hungry. At the dining commons I remembered that I had saved all studying materials in my Google Drive and was able to pull up all the files on my smartphone. During that time I was able to study more and please my appetite so I was ready for the exam.  


Blackboard, Moodle, and Spire

Blackboard, Moodle, and Spire are programs that UMass uses on an everyday basis for coursework and class selection. Blackboard has a dedicated app, but for Moodle and Spire, the best bet is to bookmark the websites in your smartphones browser. By having these three applications at your fingertips, you are able to access any issue at a moment's notice. Last year during my scheduled appointment time to sign up for classes, I did not have access to a computer, but I was able to complete the process through my smartphone. On other occasions I was able to retrieve grades, submit homework assignments, and more just from my device alone.


Social Media

Yes, social media can be the source of much distraction and procrastination, but it can be a beneficial part of being a student because of its ability to network with others. Whether it's Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat, having the option to contact a peer instantaneously for help is incredible. One case in particular where social media helped advance my academic career was when I was at a job fair and ran out of resumes to distribute to recruiters. I was talking to a recruiter and because I didn’t have any more resumes, I connected to him via LinkedIn, and he was able to view my profile and see my experience. The conversation went even better because he saw mutual connections we had.


Of course there are hundreds of more capabilities on your smartphone that will make you a more productive student, but for me, these are the staples I use on a daily basis. With self-control, smartphones can be used advantageously to succeed as a UMass student!


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