First and foremost you should set your device up so that if it should get lost or stolen that someone cannot access your information. You can do this by following these steps to deter access and to find the device if lost or stolen.
Turn On "On Screen Passcode" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
Turn On "Find My iPhone/iPad" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
Here at school we use Google Apps (Gmail) for our email. You can configure your device to sync with Gmail by setting the following options:
Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account > Choose Microsoft Exchange (Not Gmail)
Tap Next, the device will verify the information and then ask you for the server. The server is: m.google.com
By default Mail, Calendars, and Reminders are set to ON. I highly recommended that you turn on Contacts as well so you have all the school email addresses on your device. When you turn on Contacts you're presented with a message asking you what to do with your existing contacts. Choose "Keep on My iPad/iPhone"
Tap Save and now your Email has been configured on your device.
SET UP APPLE ID
You'll need to create an Apple ID in order to download free and paid for applications. Follow the steps on your device. If you already have an Apple ID created on another device, you can enter that same information here to alleviate multiple accounts. It is recommended to use a personal email address when creating your Apple ID rather than a school issued email.
Once you have your Apple ID set up, you can go to the App Store and install applications.
Recommended Applications (not definitive by any means, updated 9/24/15)