Technology has transformed the world of education in the last 30 or so years. With the dawn of the internet and associated technologies, students are now actively encouraged to do course research and submit work online – so having the right laptop is essential, no matter what course you choose to study.
Moreover, with the emergence of COVID in 2019 and the subsequent lockdowns, students were forced online to complete their studies, again highlighting how important staying connected with the right tech has become.
While we all hope the worst of the virus is now behind us, it’s still possible that some form of restrictions could return as we draw closer to winter – which will make owning a laptop even more important.
Choosing the right laptop for studying
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These days, there is a huge range of very affordable portables available, and improving tech combined with tumbling prices is putting even high-grade machines within a student’s typical budget.
Checking online will let you see college student laptop deals – but there are still some basic requirements you should bear in mind when choosing which machine to buy. The essentials you should look for include:
Operating System (OS):
The Operating System (OS) you choose will probably be determined more by what you’re used to than by any other factor. Windows still rule the roost when it comes to compatibility, although Mac OS is also popular. Other options include Linux or perhaps even a Chromebook.
If you’re in any doubt, you should check with your course leader to make sure you don’t end up buying a machine that can’t run the software required for your course (not particularly likely these days – but still possible).
Unless you have a huge budget, you’ll likely rely on the same laptop for personal and school use – so you should ensure it has adequate space for your extra-curricular videos, music, and apps. Remember, though, if your machine runs out of space, you could always invest in an external hard disk drive, which will likely prove useful for backing up important files.
Solid State Drives (SSDs) are best and most reliable but are also normally more expensive than traditional spinning disk drives. Alternatively, you could always look at purchasing cloud storage space.
RAM and processor speed:
Most modern laptops can easily handle the more common tasks like working in Word, Excel or producing presentations. However, if you’re embarking on a course that requires processor-hungry apps, you may need to check the specs of your machine – e.g., if you’re going to be studying a media course that requires working with video editing applications.
No matter what you’re studying, you should aim to buy the fastest processor your budget can stretch to – and bear in mind RAM too. As a general rule, the bigger the RAM, the quicker your machine will work and the more software apps it will handle at once.
Lastly, you should bear in mind the portability of your machine. Sure, a 17” laptop might seem like a great idea for watching TV or playing games, but you’ll soon regret it when you find yourself lugging it to and from classes each day. If owning a large screen is important to you, consider buying a flat-screen monitor and a laptop with an HDMI connection instead.