Why I Used an iPad and Apple Pencil in College

I’ve always been a bit obsessed with Apple products.  In my room back in Texas, I have a collection of pearly white Apple boxes, and a few more that I’ve gathered while in college.  I love my MacBook, which contains my entire existence, I would feel completely lost without my iPhone, and I adore my Apple Watch for fitness and practicality reasons.  However, using an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil is what actually made a huge difference in my college career.  You can read more about my college experience in my college candid, but today, I want to explain the two major ways I used my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil for academics throughout college.

My iPad now contains all of my textbooks

Walking around a college campus is drastically different than walking around a high school.  It takes about 9 minutes for me to walk from my parking lot to my first class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Obviously, carrying textbooks that far is not fun, so I started downloading them to my iPad instead.  The two ways I get textbooks on my iPad are through:

Free PDFs

You can almost always find a free, downloadable PDF of a textbook online.  If not, an upperclassman probably downloaded it at some point and has it saved in a folder on their computer somewhere. This is one of many reasons I would encourage freshmen to sign up for department mentor programs.  Once you have a PDF, you can download it to iBooks, Google Drive, or Goodnotes (which is an app I’ll discuss later).  You’ll be able to easily access the books on your iPad, with or without wifi.  You can also search through PDFs (if they aren’t scanned in) for key terms, which saves a ton of time on assignments.

Amazon Kindle Editions (or other paid ebooks!)

Unfortunately, some textbooks really don’t exist in free PDF form. That’s where Amazon Kindle (or Nook or the iBooks Store) comes in.  I like to use the Kindle app because along with loving Apple, I am also a devoted Amazon Prime member.  Typically, I’ve found that the Kindle editions are in the same price range as Amazon’s used physical books.

If you decide to use Amazon Kindle editions, there are some really cool features that I want to point out.  The Kindle app also lets you bookmark, highlight, and make notes in the textbooks.  Like I said about most PDFs, there’s also typically a search feature (again, great for speeding up assignments).  Another thing to note is that you can rent some Amazon Kindle editions, which makes them even cheaper.  Plus, renting the Kindle editions is easier than mailing actual books back at the end of the semester – your access to the book just expires so you can no longer read it.

I take all of my notes on my iPad with my Apple Pencil

When I first got my Apple Pencil and iPad Pro, I did a little research and purchased an app called Goodnotes.  It was a great investment, and completely worth the $7.99.  Some things that stood out to me include:

  • Unique notebook names and cover pages.  For example, I have one for every class I’m in, and each is a different color.
  • Variety of paper options, including plain, lined, graph, and music composition.  Also, you aren’t stuck with that paper for the entire notebook – you can change it at any point.
  • Notebook categories.  I use these to divide notebooks into semesters.
  • Color and writing style options.  I’ll talk more about my note taking system in a later post, but this is great for organization.
  • Import PDFs. (like I mentioned earlier) or study notes and write, highlight, etc. on them.  This is especially nice if professors post online lecture notes.
  • Searchable handwritten notes.  This is a new but incredibly handy feature.

That’s it for my thoughts on the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, but if you have any other questions feel free to comment below!  I’d also love to hear other suggestions if anyone uses other products, apps, etc. you’ve used to enhance your college career.  Just so you’re aware this post isn’t sponsored by Apple, Amazon, or Goodnotes or anything (I’m a bit too new to blogging for that, haha). I really do hope you consider enhancing your college experience with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil!


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