Google provides most of its tools for free, and no one likes to hear the word "free" more than a student. Here are some tips on how students can effectively use products like Calendar, Google Docs, and Google+ Hangouts - all you will need is a free Google account (Sign up here), a smartphone (either Android or iOS), and a computer.
1. Schedule your classes with Google Calendar
Once you have logged into your Gmail, open up Google Calendar (calendar.google.com) and start organising your daily schedule by creating entries for each class. This will be very fast as you can make each entry automatically repeat each week until the semester ends. In each calendar entry, add a specific address for the class or activity so that it automatically links to the location on Google Maps. You can also link to a Google Doc or file you use every class, such as your lecture notes. Make sure to also set yourself alerts that go off ten minutes or thirty minutes before the class so you can get yourself there before the bell rings.
If you schedule study groups after class, add your friends to the calendar entry so it shows up on their calendar as well.
2. Take notes at lectures with Google Docs
Google Drive (drive.google.com) will be your best friend as a student because you can create word documents, spreadsheets, and slide presentations, access them from anywhere with a computer, smartphone, or tablet, and organise them easily by class and semester. You get 15GB of storage across Drive, Google+ photos and Gmail so you can decide how much of this you can use in Drive.
To get started, open up Drive on your laptop and create a new folder for every class. Then create a Document for each lecture you attend, take notes, and save it in that folder. Even if your computer crashes, all of your work from the semester will be saved. You'll never have to worry about losing an essay because your system crashed again.
If you want to perfectly remember lectures for later, you can also use a free voice recorder app for your smartphone and then upload the file to Google Drive for safe keeping.
3. Remember ideas on the go with Google Keep
When brainstorming on homework or a paper, you may come up with a great idea while walking down the street or talking to a friend. Forget about writing down little notes that you may lose later. Just open up the app Google Keep and leave a note with text, sound, or even a photo. You can also use Google Keep to make yourself To Do lists. All of your content on Keep is all backed up in the cloud and can later be accessed on a desktop via the Chrome browser.
4. Collaborate on group assignments in Google Docs
So much homework these days is assigned to groups rather than individuals, and Google Docs is the best place to work on collaborative projects with others. Any Google Doc can be edited simultaneously by multiple people, so once you create a new Document, add your study partners' emails to share it with them, and they will soon be inside the same file working with you in real time. If you need to have a discussion before committing things to the text, you can also chat right within the doc.
Google Drive's Spreadsheets and Presentations allow the same kind of collaboration, so you never need to work alone again.
5. Research topics right from the Doc in Google Docs
When writing a paper, you will inevitably need to look up some basic facts or information - "What was the treaty that ended World War I?" Google Docs now has something called the Research pane that pops out on the right hand side and lets you search for information directly from inside the file. You can Google Search for anything, look up words in a dictionary, or even search for famous quotes relevant to your paper's theme all within your document to help you stay on task.
6. Find citations with Google Scholar
All students should know about Google Scholar (scholar.google.com), which lets you search scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including university theses, books, abstracts and articles. You'll find great leads for whatever you are writing about or researching.
If you use the Research Pane in Google Docs, you can search for works through Google Scholar and insert citations right into the text.
7. Hold virtual study groups with Google+ Hangouts
There will be times when you need to have a study group at night when not everyone is available to meet in person. No problem, just open up Google+ (plus.google.com) and start a Hangout with everyone. This multi-person chat will let you not just all talk and brainstorm together, but you can also open a Google Document or YouTube video right in the Hangout window to look at together. You can share links in the chat window as well.
To schedule a Hangout with friends, you can set it up in Google Calendar and actually add the Hangout link to the entry. That means you just have to click on the link to join up.
8. Find help for your foreign language studies in Google Translate
Reading foreign languages can be slow and tedious, but Google Translate (translate.google.com) is there to help. Especially useful on your smartphone, the App can sit by your side and do a translation every time you hit a word you don't know. The mobile App is extremely helpful if you study Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, because you can now lookup characters and words you don't know through taking a photo of them.
9. Get your digital stuff in sync with Google Chrome
Nobody wants to do work twice and when you use the Chrome web browser you won't have to. By installing and signing into Chrome across your devices you can have all your stuff with you when and where you need it. Instead of emailing yourself links to open on another computer, or worrying that your bookmarks are "stuck" on one computer, you can sign into Chrome and all you bookmarks, tabs, history, and other browser preferences will be saved and synced with your Google Account all the time.
This means you can do your assignment research at home and then seamlessly pick-up where you left off on when you log into Chrome on your iOS or Android smartphone on the bus on your way into school.