With the fall semester fast approaching, college freshmen and their parents are making those final purchases for campus life. In the era of technology, few college students leave home without a laptop. In fact, many universities are now requiring students to own a one.
Aside from the obvious spec decisions that consumers will need to make (speed, memory, size, etc), there are three serious questions that need to be considered when making this purchase.
What is your price range?
This question should be answered before any other steps are taken in the buying process. Determining the budget will limit the options. If the student is looking to spend less than a thousand dollars, that virtually eliminates anything from Apple. If the buyer is looking to only spend a couple hundred dollars and doesn’t require all of the specs that laptops offer, purchasing a netbook or tablet may be the way to go. Netbook and tablets have less memory, are smaller and don’t do quite as much as most laptops. The upside is that they can be purchased for less than $300 and are easier to tote around campus. Some students require more than netbooks can offer but still have a tight budget. Luckily, most companies offer low cost options, usually around $500.
Another inexpensive option would be to purchase a refurbished computer from a trusted source. In most cases, a refurbished computer is one that was broken at one time and has been completely fixed and restored. Refurbished computers are not bad quality computers and in many cases, companies offer warranties on them.
What are the requirements of the university?
Laptops have become more of a necessity than a luxury for most college students. Some schools have expectations of what computers their students should be using. It’s smart to check the university’s website to see what their requirements are. Further, individual departments may have specific expectations of their students. Smaller universities and community colleges tend to have less strict policies, but it’s a good idea to check no matter what school is being attended.
What is the student majoring in?
Many students enter their freshmen year with no declared major. In that case, buying a basic laptop would probably be the best option. However, if the student has already decided their career path – this should impact which computer they decide to buy.
A student majoring in English or education probably won’t require as much technology as other students. For them, basic laptops, netbook and even tablets could do fine for their needs. For a person going in to engineering, more memory and quality software will likely be required. Students majoring in film or art tend to prefer Apple laptops because they offer the top of the line editing software.
There are several websites, like Retrevo, that can help consumers compare laptops from multiple brands. It’s a good idea to plan ahead for making this purchase. Signing up to e-mail notifications can help students take advantage of special promotions. As the school year gets closers, companies start offering bargain prices on laptops, especially for students. Apple has been known to give away iPods and Dell has given purchasers free xBox 360 and gift cards. Retailers like Best Buy have also been notorious for offering gift cards and printers for student purchasers. Planning ahead and being patient can really save consumers a lot of money and even offer some freebies.