Alexa, Google and Siri might be the fast way to help you ace your studies

Our best tips for going to college with Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant.

Molly Price Former Editor
4 min read

Packing for school means checking off a long list of items including dorm necessities as well as some of the comforts of home. When it comes to organizing your new space for productivity and convenience, there are more than a few reasons to consider putting a smart speaker on that list.

Just because your dorm room isn't decked out in smart lights, plugs or locks doesn't mean you can't make use of Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa. Here are our tips for smarter campus life. 

Read: 8 great gadgets that can smarten up a dumb dorm room | Our favorite back to school picks for 2019

Why it works in a dorm

Some schools have skills on voice-assistant platforms to answer basic questions about campus, but chances are your school doesn't have one yet. Still, voice assistants are a great resource for quick questions about local stores, restaurants and nearby events. Things like routines, reminders and streaming media make smart speakers, especially the smaller models, worth their cost. 


Get up and get going with a "Good Morning" routine. You won't be able to incorporate your dorm's lights or thermostat if they aren't smart, but voice assistants are still useful for quickly dispensing the information you want to know each morning. 

You can set your smart speaker to brief you on your daily schedule, the news and weather, and start a morning playlist. Set another routine for goodnight to remind you when tomorrow's first class starts, play a wind-down playlist, or tell you a joke. 


Watch TV and videos

Chris Monroe/CNET


If nothing else, smart speakers can be entertaining. From escape games to trivia and some seriously dad-level jokes, voice assistants can cure your boredom and make you chuckle.

Go one step up with a smart display , and you can watch video news briefs, YouTube content and even your favorite shows. Most also have cameras for video chatting. 


Assistants are perfect for reminders. Just ask your speaker to remind you to go to the library at 8 p.m. or that you promised you'd call your mom on Sunday. 

You can add reminders, alarms and timers for pretty much anything. Use them to set a 15 minutes study break time or an alarm so you can get that quick nap in before dinner. From birthdays to regular alarms and everything in between, let your assistant help you keep track of all the new commitments college throws your way. 

Homework help

Maybe Alexa can't do your trigonometry homework and you should definitely never cheat, but smart speakers are a quick way to search for general knowledge questions about history, geography, science and simple math. They can also give you a quick answer while sending more detailed information to your phone's corresponding app. 


Best practices

Bringing a smart speaker into a shared living space does require consideration. If you don't already know your roommate, get to know them and find out how they feel about having Google , Siri or Alexa in the room. Part of respecting people's privacy is not forcing technology on them if they aren't up for it. 


If everyone is in agreement on having smart speakers in your space, take care to turn off a few settings as a precaution. Making purchases with voice recognition isn't the best idea. Even if you train your voice assistant to learn your voice, there's still a chance your roommate could fool it. 

Of course, voice recognition can come in handy if you train your speaker to learn each roommate's voice (Google can learn up to six in one household). You can ask about your calendar or commute and you'll get a personalized response. 

Personal privacy

Take time to go through all your connected apps and settings when you set your speaker up at school for the first time. There's always a possibility that things like calendar appointments could be read out loud or shown on smart displays, so make sure nothing too personal is going to be broadcast to everyone within earshot. 

If you're concerned about data and voice recordings being collected by your smart speakers, there are ways to erase that data. It takes a little bit of time and several steps, but take a look at our guide to deleting information from Google and Alexa services. 

The best speakers for 2019

If you're looking to spend some of that sweet graduation cash and you don't yet own a smart speaker, there are some really good options out there that won't break the bank. 

Our favorite smart speaker right now? The latest Amazon Echo Dot (3rd-gen) costs just $50 and often less on sale. The top smart display for someone wanting visual information? The $130 Google Nest Hub