Many college courses require access to a computer. Other courses will allow you to bring a laptop to class so you can type notes directly into the computer. It may be possible to avoid buying a computer if you have access to those in the computer lab or at the local library. Use id free but you are limited by lab time availability and whether or not other students are using them.
Choosing the Right Computer
You should consider your computing needs for the next two to three years when considering a purchase. You may not have many classes that require the use of a computer right now or only need basic functions but what about as you progress through your courses? Will need better graphics capabilities? What kinds of programs will you need to be able to run? Will you need to bring a computer to class or to study groups?
Many electronic superstores like Comp USA or Best Buy have departments with staff that can assess your needs and recommend a computer for you. Local computer outlets can often custom build what you need. While you may think this might be more expensive, the opposite is often true. The big stores buy in bulk and jam what they believe are the most popular features onto the computers. In some cases you may be paying for add-ons or software that you don’t need. With a custom built computer, you get exactly what you need.
Laptop or Desktop
Desktops are the traditional computer. They can come with more features like multiple CD or DVD drives, more ports for attaching other devices and often more power and speed. However, they are not mobile. A laptop can go with you just about anywhere. Lightweight models can easily be carried in a briefcase, backpack or even a large purse. They often have many of the features of their desktop cousins.
Pricing will naturally be a major concern. Watch the local sales papers and check online often if you are leaning toward a conventional model or brand. The big box stores often have sales. Even places like Wal-Mart have sales on laptops from time to time. A good time to catch a computer on sale is during the Black Friday sales following Thanksgiving. Basic laptops and desktops, with limited features can often be found for just a few hundred dollars. These often have last year’s operating system and software so make sure they are compatible with your needs before buying.