Back when laptop computers became readily available and most places started offering Wi-Fi, buying a laptop for college became common practice. Before then the common practice was to bring a bulky desktop computer or use on campus computers. Today college tuition continues to go up, so saving money is becoming more and more important when it comes to college.
First off, whether or not you need to buy or bring a computer to college depends on a few factors. If the class you are taking requires your own computer and a computer will not be provided (such as an engineering class) then you will obviously need to buy a computer, and a laptop would be the best option whether you’re living on campus or not since you will most likely need the computer in class.
Living on Campus
If you’re living on campus you have a few options. First you need to figure out whether or not the classes you are taking require a computer, and if one is provided. If you need a computer but one is not provided, you will probably want a laptop. If you need one but a computer is provided, it’s up to you as if you’re going to any reasonably sized college there is an open computer lab. Many are open 24/7.
Living off Campus
If you’re living off campus it’s really up to you. If you already have a desktop computer and you don’t have any classes where a computer would be needed during class, you really shouldn’t need to purchase anything new unless your computer is out of date.
Taking What You Already Have
In my situation I will be studying computer science. I already have a very powerful desktop computer at home and since I will be living on campus, this computer will be coming with me. If you already have a capable computer and you don’t need a laptop if it’s not a laptop, taking the computer you have is a fine option. Of course, you don’t want your computer breaking down on you during college, so if you have a machine that’s 4 or 5 years or older, you may look into upgrading.
Check with your college before purchasing a laptop! Some colleges will offer bulk buy programs where you can get a laptop for incredible savings (50% plus in some cases) because the college buys a bunch of them. Vendors such as Apple and Dell also offer a education discount.
Don’t Bring Any Computer At All
If you have no classes that require a computer but you may have to write the occasional paper, you might try not bringing a computer at all if you don’t already have one that you can bring with you to college. Most colleges have open computer labs, many 24/7. If the lab is busy during your time that you can go you may need to purchase your own laptop, but many people go all four years to college without their own computer.