- Evaluate your situation, including your personal preferences, schedule, and classes to decide which electronic devices you need to own and which you can rent or use for free.
- There are many resources on campus that offer discounts, rentals, and free student use of electronic devices and other equipment. Before you make a giant purchase, check out the available resources here on campus.
Why would I want/need my own laptop?
Owning or renting a laptop for your personal use can be convenient and beneficial. Most professors and classes require online reading, frequent email communications, online homework, online quizzes (and sometimes finals), web research, and/or other online updates via LearningSuite. Thus, having a portable electronic device always nearby can improve your efficiency as a student. Taking lecture notes and/or using ebooks on a laptop or other electronic device can be faster and lower the weight you have to carry to class every day. Since you're using the device for your personal use, you will lower the amount of times you'll have to search for an available computer in a lab on campus.
What to consider
However, each person's circumstances are different, and for some students, owning/renting a laptop may not be necessary for their academic success. Start with these points when considering how you want to approach your purchase and use of electronics as a university student:
- How much can you afford to pay for electronic devices for school? Often, when purchasing electronic devices, the quality improves with the price. An expensive laptop could do more for you than a cheap tablet. If you'd rather have the benefits of a laptop without the price, laptop rentals and some higher-end tablets could do the trick. Don't forget to allot room in your budget for any costs related to the device (including purchase, repair, accessories, internet or data plans, etc).
- How much memory do you need? If you're willing to store many things on the cloud (places like your email, Google Drive, etc.), you can get away with having less memory storage. If you'd rather have the files stored directly on your computer, or if you need to download lots of software for your classes, you might want to seriously consider purchasing your own laptop with more memory storage.
- How fast do you need the device to be? If you won't be on the device 24/7, then you likely won't need the device to be the fastest in the world. Faster devices are generally more expensive. If you do need your electronic device to be faster, then you might want to consider making room in your budget to purchase a laptop with a dual core processor and higher RAM.
- How often will you be using your device? The more often you use the device, the more important the memory and the speed will be for you. The less you use the device, the less you might have to spend on it.
- How long do you want the device to last? Here, again, you usually get what you pay for. Laptops and higher-end tablets can last longer than their less-expensive alternatives, so unless you back up your personal files using portable memory devices (like a flash drive or external hard drive) or the cloud, you'll probably want to budget in a little extra for a better device. However, if you do back up your files in other places, this might not be an important deciding factor for you.
- Have you done your research? BEFORE you make a purchase, make certain to read up on the device's reviews. Check out the prices and quality of all of its alternatives. Make sure that you're familiar with basic technological terms and key measurements (such as RAM, memory storage, battery life, etc.) so that you know exactly what you're getting.
What are my options?
After you consider all of those points and anything else relevant to your situation, you can make a decision! Besides many off-campus online and in-store resources, here is a list of campus resources that can help you save money on your decisions regarding electronic devices:
- BYU IT Computer Rental. The BYU Office of Information Technology offers a great program through which students can rent laptops at affordable rates. They go fast, and the best laptops are distributed first, so check it out ASAP! They even offer computer repair services at great rates.
- BYU Open Access Computer Labs. The Harold B. Lee Library is home to hundreds of computers which are available for free student use. Follow the link to find out which computers are available to you right now! Many other buildings on campus (including the Wilkinson Student Center) also have open access computer labs.
- HBLL Multimedia Lab. Need access to more advanced software/other tech? Check out the library's multimedia lab for help on your next video project or other multimedia needs.
- BYU Computer Store. The BYU Store often offers great discounts on quality computers/laptops for students, especially at the beginning of each school year. They also offer computer repair services at affordable rates. Click here for their fantastic breakdown of all your tech needs as a student (including FREE Microsoft Office, academic computer pricing, wi-fi router info, and more).
Be smart about your decision; make sure it's the right one for your situation.