College Computer Shopping: Where Do I Start?
Your child is getting ready to go to college, and you want to make sure he or she has everything needed. You’ve bought all the essentials, but then you wonder, what kind of computer is best for your aspiring college student?
Before you go out and buy a new computer, do some research. Check with your child’s college and see if they have any requirements. Some majors may require certain hardware or software. Find out from your child’s school what requirements the computer has to meet, and then work from there.
Unless your child’s school or major has a specific requirement, chances are that the guidelines you will be given will be very vague. This leaves a lot or room for interpretation. Which brand, how much memory, and what accessories to purchase are up to you.
However, you will want to make sure that whatever you buy is useful for your child. So, there are a few more things you need to research before buying that new computer. It does not need to be an expensive computer; even an inexpensive model can get the job done.
Consider if your child be living on campus or off campus. Many dormitories and
on-campus living quarters are now equipped for high speed internet connections. You will need to find out what is required to connect to the school’s network, which can vary from school to school, and even from building to building on the same campus.
Newer buildings will have newer wiring. Older buildings may have older wiring or even wireless networks. You will need to know what type of connection is required before you can choose your computer.I f your child will be living off campus, then check with the landlord about what is available in that particular area.
The amount of memory you need will vary greatly, but it is often safe to err on the side of getting more RAM than you need right now. One computer can last though all four years of college, but you need to be able to install operating system upgrades and antivirus software on it as needed. It’s frustrating to buy a new computer and then have to replace or rebuild it two years later because it just can’t handle the newest software.
As far as accessories go, a printer is essential. Even a small, inexpensive printer will suffice for term papers and projects. A smaller printer is appropriate for a dorm room, where desk space is often at a premium. Scanners, speakers, and tablets are optional. Unless your child’s major requires them, those might be better purchased later.
The brand name of the computer is less important than its capabilities. Check with the school to see if there is a brand they recommend. Their choice might not be the best machine on the market, but it will be the machine that their help desk is most familiar with. Therefore, following their recommendations may save a lot of time down the line.
Finally: laptop or desktop? Unless otherwise required, either will work fine. Desktops are less likely to be lost or damaged, but laptops are easier to bring home over break.