[How to Choose a Laptop for College]

Choosing a laptop for college can be a long-term commitment.  It doesn’t matter if you are a transfer student, fresh out of highschool, coming back or just starting later; a laptop is the number one tool for college.

Many college courses have two elements to them: in-person and online.  Online parts of college could be turning in quizzes, assignments, making videos, responding to forums and more.  In order to do all of those, you have to have a computer that can handle it.

That’s why these tips are here: to help you choose the perfect laptop for college!

1. Make Your Budget

You may already have this done, but for those who don’t: budgeting should always be your first step!

while getting every bell and whistle out there might be nice to have on a computer, that isn’t affordable for everyone.  Pen to paper is the best way to go through and see how much you have available to spend on a computer.

Keep in mind: if you have Financial Aid, those funds are available to you to get school supplies.

Once you have figured out how much you have available, it’s time to see how much you want to spend on a computer.  If you want to spend a lower amount and pocket the leftover funds for other supplies, then that works out well!

At the same time, don’t guilt yourself into a low quality computer: a laptop is a big investment into your future and your education.  Yes, there are plenty of computer labs available at most campuses.  But what about work at home? From a dorm room? When you go out of town?

Be prepared to spend a pretty penny, but stick to that budget.

2. Talk to your Peers

Professors and instructors are wonderful sources of information.  The downside is that they, more often than not, don’t have the student experience to pull from.

This doesn’t mean that a professor is trying to lead you in the wrong direction.  If your professor tells you to get a certain program, but a peer has found another way to get the same results then you might want to go with what your fellow students found.

It’s important to attend events around campus where you can talk to other students or even talk to students in your class.  Fortunately, laptops are more easily accessible than before.  This means you can talk to your classmates one day and then go get the laptop right then!

3. Check With Your IT Department

IT departments in education can be hit or miss when it comes to course information.  There are so many courses, programs, classrooms, and computer labs for a single department to cover: it’s difficult for anyone to know or understand all that you might need based upon your courses.

Most IT departments are going to have some sort of suggested parameters that you need for a laptop to run the applications that you’ll be using whether you’re learning PowerPoint or something more techie like using databases.

If you can’t find it on the IT website, then it might be best to go into the department or call.  Minimum requirements for most colleges and universities are going to revolve around:

  • Internet connection
  • Bluetooth connection
  • Processing Capabilities
  • RAM
  • Available Plug-Ins

When you meet with IT, don’t forget to ask them about any specific programs that you found out about.  Sometimes, the department might have licenses available for students to use.

4. Research Computers and Buy!

This step will probably be the most time-consuming.  In my experience with every laptop for college, it took hours to narrow down results to something that would work with my courses.  You may be fortunate enough to avoid that though!

When you research your computers there are several websites that are going to be very helpful: CNET, Dossier Labs, Tim’s Guide, and plenty more.  If you are lucky enough to have a computer shop in your city, the people there are full of information and can also help you narrow down your search.

Once you are completely sure that you are ready to buy the laptop, stop and double check.  Go through all of the specs as thoroughly as possible.

Okay.  Now hit the buy button.


Buying laptops or computers can be daunting.  There are so many types and styles, and it doesn’t help that there are so many models!  Even though the sheer number can be overwhelming, the variety is a good thing.

You have many options to choose from so that you can apply the information that was gained from your peers, the IT department, and your own research.  With information in your hands, you can find that perfect laptop.

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