When you’re a college student, hanging out with friends is one of the most important aspects of existence (besides attending classes and mastering work-life balance, of course!)
Luckily, many great apps make it fun (and safe) to connect with friends, family, and professors from a distance.
Today, we’re going to focus on two of the biggest players in the VoIP arena — Discord and Skype.
Both have long dominated in terms of their video-call prowess but have many comparable differences that make them better suited for some activities over others.
We’ll compare the top features of both services, and decide once and for all …
Which is better for college students, Discord or Skype?
Discord vs Skype: Uses
Millions of people across the globe are Skype and Discord users, though likely for different reasons. Background-wise, Discord was originally developed as a space for gamers to play and interact, while Skype was for talking to loved ones anywhere in the world.
Nowadays, both have outgrown their intended purposes, and people rely on them to text, chat, and create virtual meeting spaces.
In terms of where and how to use them, Skype and Discord both operate on the web, app, and phone platforms, making them equally accessible.
Discord vs Skype: Interface
An app’s user interface is a key indicator of how well it will perform with certain groups. Let’s examine how Skype’s and Discord’s UI stack up.
Most users consider Discord’s interface to be more modern and vibrant than Skype’s. It consists of separate servers, which are community channels users create that are either public or private.
Servers are organized by theme. From anime to gardening, there’s a server for everything.
Again, Skype’s UI is minimalist, though many people think this makes it more user-friendly. It keeps your contacts, conversations, and calls in side-by-side tabs, with calling and messaging buttons displayed prominently along the bottom of the screen.
Both Skype and Discord let you use different voice-chat channels at once, so you can manage separate conversations with separate groups at the same time.
Both Discord and Skype offer users screen-sharing abilities, which can help when you’re working on a group assignment or working directly with a professor. Discord only allows screen sharing on video calls, though, whereas screen sharing is possible on video and voice calls with Skype.
Skype allows up to 25 people to chat at once, which can be great for virtual classroom discussions, depending on the number of students involved.
Discord only allows for groups of 10 to chat at once, and this can only be done through its direct message feature.
With Skype, you can send emoticons, GIFs, and stickers to friends.
Discord lets you send emojis and jumbo-sized “wumboji” emojis. Plus, it gives you the option to create your own GIFs.
Discord vs Skype: Safety
Interestingly, these apps take different approaches to safety, which itself says a lot about them.
Perhaps because Discord is designed to harbor a more community-like feel, its safety features relate to preventing harassment. For example, servers are invite-only, meaning people only interact with other invited users, with hosts being in charge of creating the channel, starting calls, and removing invitees.
Discord administrators and monitors ensure that members comply with rules and regulations within communities. Members can toggle their own privacy and safety settings, block other users if needed, and have the option of initiating two-factor authentication during sign-in.
Skype handles safety in terms of privacy protection. It offers built-in end-to-end encryption, which is a fancy way of stating that only users involved in conversations can read messages.
While Discord is encrypted, it does not have end-to-end encryption and so does not have that extra layer of protection against hackers and spies.
Discord vs Skype: Bandwidth
Bandwidth can help you determine which app you want to spend the most time with. No college student wants to waste time with a thankless data hog!
To that end, Discord only transmits audio data during a call when the participant holds down the “touch to speak” button, whereas Skype transmits data for all callers during the call’s duration. This makes Discord more efficient and less likely to gobble up bandwidth.
In terms of voice call quality, Skype recommends a bandwidth of 100 kbps and Discord 64 kbps.
But just because Discord recommends less does not mean its call clarity is better. Other factors, like your device and internet connection, will also affect that.
Skype allows for more free file-sharing space, offering users up to 300MB compared to Discord’s 8MB. For files larger than 300MB, Skype users can share via OneDrive. If you upgrade to a paid Nitro plan on Discord, you get 50MB of included file space.
Discord vs Skype: Work vs. Fun
Here are the most important considerations in the Discord vs Skype battle, especially for college students?
Which is more fun to use? Which is better for work?
As mentioned, Skype makes it possible to have a live conference call for up to 25 people, and it also lets you share your screen on video and voice calls.
Want to record a lecture with a professor? Only Skype allows live video recording, complete with captions if desired.
Because of its more inviting interface, higher bandwidth, and more options for group activities, Discord is probably the most fun.
Overall, most college students will likely find that Skype is great for working on group assignments for class, while Discord is the place to go to join fun activities, like a virtual “Bad Movie Night” with friends.
Life is short, and your college years are going to fly by faster than you realize. It’s paramount, then, to use the hangout app that provides a fun and useful connection space for you and your different groups.
Skype is perfect when you want to attend a lecture with your classmates. Discord is best for when you want to karaoke with friends after your study session.
So, both Discord and Skype are wonderful VoIP tools for college students — just be sure you’re using the right one for the right group activity.
You don’t have time to waste on second best!
Read Also: Educational Software for Students
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Grove at Pullman to help them with their online marketing.