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Will I want a laptop for college?

FaynorFaynor Registered User regular
edited June 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi there!

So, I'm approaching my first semester at college at the end of the summer, and I'm not sure what to do with my graduation money. My major is liberal arts because I don't really know what I want to be (which is also why I'm only going to a 2 year community college, and then a 4 year university).

That said, do I want a laptop? I have a perfectly good desktop at home. I mean, it's not like my major is graphic design or whatever, and I've heard people say laptops can be overrated for college.

Thoughts?

Faynor on
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Posts

  • TexiKenTexiKen Oh, no. And that's that.Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I didn't use one, I just had a notepad for each class and took notes that way. If you already have a desktop you'll be fine.

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  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    It's more convenient, since it's nice to be able to use it to type notes, or if you have a break between classes you can chill and use the internet, and I found it useful to work on papers that I had stored on my macbook during said breaks.

    None the less I didn't have a computer till I was a senior. Notebooks were just fine for my majority of time in school.

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  • SniperGuySniperGuy Also known as Dohaeris Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited June 2009
    It honestly depends. I usually take my desktop to school with me as I use it for games and such, but I've also got a netbook. Before the netbook I had a macbook pro which I used a bit, but eventually got tired of lugging it around.

    I'd say if you're a PC gamer, bring the desktop. If you must take notes digitally, AND are a pc gamer, get a netbook for the portability and bring the desktop. If you can do without the PC games, just grab a decent laptop.

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  • Mai-KeroMai-Kero Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    yessssssssssss

    Having a laptop makes working on projects so much easier. For notes, they can be very nice, but just writing them out works just as well. Especially when you write them out, and then copy them over from the notebook to your computer. It's a rather nice method for retaining the information mentally.

    You'll probably miss having the laptop with you at some point, either in class or in between classes, and being able to work anywhere is fantastic. Plus, laptops are super-cheap now.

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  • HadjiQuestHadjiQuest Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    If you're just going to a community school for the next two years, definitely don't bother yet if you've got a sturdy desktop.

    It may be something to consider when you transfer later on.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I've made it 2 years in college without a laptop and I'm figuring on 2 more. If you're the kind of person who would get distracted and play Tetris or surf the web in class if you have a laptop, for god's sake don't get one, or at least don't bring it to class. If having a computer around doesn't tempt you to goof off, though, you might enjoy being able to bring your own computer to the library to study.

  • DHS OdiumDHS Odium Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    It depends on the classes you'll take. I wouldn't say it's required, but it's a good thing to have. That said, most people with laptops in class just dick around, and don't do a lot of work. You can get by with a pen and paper, again, depending on the class.

    If you're interested, but don't want to spend a whole lot, look at a netbook. God I wish netbooks were around when I was in college.

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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    If you're not living on a campus, then yeah, I don't know if I'd bother.

    I'd just wait and buy a nice one in two years when you go away.

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    For less than $400 you can get a netbook. A laptop will only be truly awesome in college if you have an awesome battery and its light enough to travel around with you.
    Look into the 1000HE.

    I didn't get a netbook untill my last semester and it was fucking awesome. I wish they existed for years before.

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  • FaynorFaynor Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    What's the difference between a laptop and a netbook?

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  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Faynor wrote: »
    What's the difference between a laptop and a netbook?

    Nothing, really. Netbooks are smaller/lighter.

  • ZoolanderZoolander Registered User
    edited June 2009
    I'd say about 80% of the people with a laptop in any class are using it to browse the web instead of paying attention. Make of that what you will.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Faynor wrote: »
    What's the difference between a laptop and a netbook?

    Nothing, really. Netbooks are smaller/lighter.

    Netbooks are small, light, on the cheaper end, and don't have an optical drive.
    They kinda rock.

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  • LurkLurk Registered User
    edited June 2009
    Faynor wrote: »
    What's the difference between a laptop and a netbook?

    Nothing, really. Netbooks are smaller/lighter.

    Netbooks are small, light, on the cheaper end, and don't have an optical drive.
    They kinda rock.

    They also have mad battery life. I recommend one.

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    They should have mad battery life. Some of them have normal shitty batteries.
    But yea, if you think you will be taking a lot of notes in class and would like to type them (so you can print them whenever, because your handwriting sucks, its faster, you will want to keep them for years, etc), check out the 1000HE.

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  • RenegadeSilenceRenegadeSilence Registered User
    edited June 2009
    The only reason I got a laptop for college was so I wouldn't have to lug a desktop and monitor home on breaks.
    It pretty much just sits in my dorm room, unless I'm studying in a group or have a group project to work on.
    Really you're just better off bringing a (paper) notebook to class to take notes because it gets awkward typing notes out (especially for math and science courses) and the battery life will probably become an issue.
    Also as Zoolander says the only reason anyone brings a laptop to class is to screw off, I've only seen two people ever in my two years of college so far take notes consistently on their laptop in class and one of them was writing on a tablet PC.
    Plus it could be a pain in the ass to carry around if you have to carry books to class.

    Furthermore, I would really hold off on buying a laptop until you know what you want to be, because might get one that is underpowered for the software you might need to run.

  • DehumanizedDehumanized Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    You don't need a laptop for college. It's heavier than paper, more likely to distract you from a lecture than paper, and when you're at home writing papers you'll want to do them on your desktop computer.

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  • KenninatorKenninator Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Whenever I brought my laptop to class I'd surf the net or play videogames. I'm smart enough to realize I can't do any work with distractions, so I stopped (especially after the first test :p). I got a cheap desktop, uninstaled WoW, and I was set.

    Otherwise desktops are much cheaper. The only factor here is if you really plan on working out and about like at a library or something, and in that case a flash drive would do fine for bringing data place to place.

  • kaliyamakaliyama Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    What everyone else is said is correct, and let me add some more points as to why you shouldn't get a laptop:

    1) It can get stolen if you have it out somewhere. You'll see threads on PA about this periodically.
    2) They're expensive or not very feature rich, and will have problems significantly more often than a desktop of a similar price.
    3) They're heavier than you think, and have less battery life than you think. If you pay more you can solve one of these problems but will usually make the other one worse.
    4) You will not pay attention in class. This is perhaps the best reason not to get one. H/A is also littered with threads about people failing out of college (usually w/o any explanation as to why). I think one of the reasons is that people here are specially succeptible to getting distracted by games and the web when they should be doing other things; I know I am.
    5) You don't need one for class - I have yet to see an undergraduate class that requires note-taking in the speed, depth and detail that fast-typing on a laptop requires. Writing things down is better.
    6) Any university is going to be up to its neck in computer labs - as long as they keep long hours, you shoudn't even need to buy a desktop, though i'm sure you will.

    The only time in college I really used my laptop productively was when I was doing 8 hr+ flights for my job/extracurriculars. Even then, I probably could have done just fine writing outlines of papers w/pen + paper and writing it when I got back home.

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  • EriosErios Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Be a good, cost conscious geek. Build a desktop and buy a really cheap netbook.

    That said the netbook is pretty unnecessary.

    In my own experience, I'm an economics student. Any note taking I'm going to take requires randomly interjecting complex graphs. Yes, a more expensive computer could do this, but so can my hand. Furthermore, my lab notebook won't spontaneously catch fire or have all the ink/graphite suddenly fall out. On the flipside, my laptop has had several HDD failures.

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  • Brodo FagginsBrodo Faggins Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Notebooks are nice for working in the library. I'm good at writing papers under pressure, but I couldn't do them in my own room, there were too many distractions. Put me in a library full of like-minded students, and I could bang out a 10 pager in under two hours.

    They're also really nice for bringing over to a friend's room and having something there while socializing. Projects are also much more organized and smoother.

    If you have a nice desktop, though, it'd be better to just get the netbook. Just make sure you have a good case for the desktop that doesn't make too much noise.

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  • RecklessReckless Registered User
    edited June 2009
    I got a MacBook for high school graduation, and I'm just about to go into my Junior year. It's been my primary (and only) computer for two years.

    I use my laptop every day at school. I rarely use it for taking notes in class, I like to doodle and make graphs and whatnot and that's much easier to do with pen & paper. And when writing papers, I usually go to my school's Mac lab, because 25-inch iMacs = yesplease.

    Here's a list of things I do with my MacBook at school...

    -Run my shows at the campus radio station
    -Make bitchin' presentations with KeyNote
    -Able to work wherever, nice when roomie's getting some play, etc.
    -Able to plop down in the library with a coffee and Google Reader between classes
    -Able to work in different spots to change up the scenery a bit

    I recommend it, but if you're strapped for cash, a laptop's not a dire necessity in college.

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  • psycojesterpsycojester Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Zoolander wrote: »
    I'd say about 80% of the people with a laptop in any class are using it to browse the web instead of paying attention. Make of that what you will.

    My advice would be get the laptop but don't install any games on it and don't connect it to the campus wireless, thats what i do, that way i don't have the temptation to dick about in class.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Another vote for a netbook. I really wish they had come out, or at least I have heard of them before I bought my laptop.

    I'll add that this past semester, none of my classes allowed laptops. A lot of teachers are honestly getting tired of them, in the sense that people will just play games/surf the web. I can't count the number of people I seen playing WOW as a teacher lectures.

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  • Woot427Woot427 Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I'm currently a senior and in my classes, on average, I see about two laptops out of a class of forty people. No one uses them here, in class. The people that do are the people that aren't paying attention, i.e. playing WOW in class.

    However, just about every commuter student has a laptop to make use of time between classes and not suffer a) boredom or b) opportunity cost. If you're going to have a lot of down time on campus, I would get a laptop. From your first post, not sure if you're a commuter but the "at home" makes me think you are. I live in Chicago so commuters are usually held hostage by train schedules, etc.

  • SaammielSaammiel Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I also find typing to be vastly inferior compared to actually writing things when it comes to later retention. I am at the point where I can touch type something without even having to think about what I am doing. As such, I don't have to pay attention to record the knowledge from a prof. On the other hand, when I begin the more laborious process of writing things out by hand I usually have to reflect on what I am doing at least a little bit, and so more is retained. But of course, YMMV.

  • Evil_ReaverEvil_Reaver Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I could have gone through my undergrad with 100% pen and paper only. I brought my laptop to lectures a few times during my senior year just to try it out but I wasn't ever really impressed with the concept of typing notes instead of writing. My retention was vastly superior when I wrote my notes by hand, mostly because I had to listen to the lecturer and pick out the important stuff to write down.

    As a freshman, I absolutely recommend that you do not bring a laptop to class. You're going to have about a billion distractions as it is and a laptop in class isn't going to make your life any easier.

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  • DuffelDuffel Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    You don't really need one. If you do get one I'd advise you against taking it to class. As a bunch of people have mentioned, most people who have laptops in class aren't taking notes on them. I even saw somebody playing an old text-based MUD in class once. Also, if a professor catches you playing a game or IM'ing in class they're probably going to hate your guts forever.

    The only situation I can think of where you might want/need one is if you're doing some kind of project where it's handy to have a computer away from the computer lab, and if you're a freshman you probably won't be getting into that stuff for a year or two. Don't waste your money.

  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I agree, don't get one until you actually need one (i.e. possibly grad school). I myself am kind of upset that I will probably have to get one for law school.

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  • Evil_ReaverEvil_Reaver Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Archgarth wrote: »
    I agree, don't get one until you actually need one (i.e. possibly grad school). I myself am kind of upset that I will probably have to get one for law school.

    I'm starting law school in the fall as well and I'm anxious to find see how note taking will be. I know that you're the weird kid if you *don't* have a laptop in class, but I'm curious about the actual necessity of having one.

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  • CJTheranCJTheran Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    As a recently graduated commuter student, I can outright say that my laptop was ridiculously useful. Get something light with long battery life and don't install any games on it and you'll be fine.

    Suggestions:

    The aforementioned Asus 1000HE EEPC. Those things are awesome.

    Macbook, if you like Macs and hate money like I do.

  • nuclearalchemistnuclearalchemist Registered User
    edited June 2009
    I am both for/against having a laptop for college. When I started at the University 6 years ago, my parents and I for graduation bought me a nice desktop replacement Dell laptop. It was a piece of crap. What people have said about portability versus battery life is completely true. This thing was HEAVY! Then again, right now I am at work (graduate student) working on a Mac, so there is that too. I think it really depends on your preference, I would say get a netbook for the portability, but keep the desktop around. It is really nice to have access to the internet/your files away from home, and makes working in groups/on campus easier.

    As for not getting yourself into trouble playing games, thats kind of the tradeoff you are willing to make. I never take my new laptop (or my old one) to class, since that is a surefire way not to pay attention. Just use a laptop outside of class and you'll be fine.

    ~Eigen-fleichen
  • TheFullMetalChickenTheFullMetalChicken Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Go with the pen and paper, and a pack of cards for gaming while on break. If you need a portable computer then go get a netbook later I know tonnes of people with laptops from school that don't use them or used them just for surfing during class, never meet someone that got into a lifestyle that needed one for school or work that doesn't use them for mostly school or work

  • ShadowrunnerShadowrunner Registered User
    edited June 2009
    I never used a laptop in college, and I don't feel that I missed out on anything. I'm amazed at the number of people who can take notes on a laptop while in class... seems to me like it would be a huge distraction.

  • Hardleft_335Hardleft_335 Registered User
    edited June 2009
    Ive always been a commuter, so a laptop is great. Most university computers are locked down so you cant do a whole lot (once I was unable to download a PDF file). Also, whenever I need to use a computer, the wait is around half an hour. Its much easier to just sit down and start typing on your own pc.

    I also like being able to work in any room of my house. Beautiful day outside? Write your paper in the hammock out back. Roommate playing halo again? Go in your room. You can work in the kitchen, spread out all of you sources on the dining table and go to town. Got a hangover? Work from bed.

  • ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I have yet to start my classes but I did buy a Macbook for classes. Mainly this was due to a point my brother made, that having a lap top with wireless internet is quite handy for quickly logging into the library site and reserving books before everyone else got to them.

    Other than that, I plan to hand write my notes and then retype them if time permits. My retention will be much higher that way I believe.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Just because a lot of people fuck around in class on their computer doesn't mean they have no practical use.

    I really wish I was able to save the notes I took in a number of my classes, but alas, I suck with pen and paper.

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Yea its cheap, but the 900 is kinda crappy. I'm in the school of thought that your laptop should have a good battery life.
    But it works and its wow cheap.

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  • SaddlerSaddler Registered User
    edited June 2009
    Ask yourself: do I have a quiet place to study? If you think you are going to have any distractions using your desktop, then get a laptop/notebook. Don't take it out in class unless the class requires it, but do take it to the library or some other quiet place and do your work.

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