Preparing for college can be stressful and expensive. When gearing up for their first semester, students have a lot to think about—living on their own for the first time, finding their classes, what to major in, how to find friends, the list goes on.
One thing they shouldn’t stress about is their technology. Gone are the days when students had to lug heavy desktop computers, printers, landline phones, and CRT TVs into the dorm. But it’s still easy to buy too many gadgets. Here’s how to conserve space without sacrificing your technology needs when you head back to school this fall.
Swap the Laptop for a 2-in-1
A laptop seems like an obvious purchase for a college student. From taking notes to writing papers, it’s hard to get by at school without a PC. But what if you want to relax with Netflix or browse Twitter on a handheld device?
Don’t lug a tablet and a PC to college; pick up a 2-in-1 hybrid device. The screen is detachable, they are touch-optimized, you can use a traditional keyboard or a stylus, and you can switch back and forth between each mode with ease. Our pick for the best 2-and-1 is the Lenovo Yoga 920, which offers a whopping 22 hours of battery life, almost double what its competitors provide. For those on a budget, the Acer Chromebook Spin 11 is also an Editors’ Choice.
Ditch the TV for a Tablet
Among 18- to 24-year-olds, live TV watching has dipped from 17.3 hours per week in Q2 2014 to 9.5 hours in Q2 2018, according to Statista. These days, it’s all about video-streaming services, from Hulu and Netflix to Amazon Video and HBO Now—all of which are cheaper than cable TV and accessible on your 2-in-1’s detachable tablet.
TVs are bulky, and not portable. But as long as you have Wi-Fi, you can binge-watch on your tablet in the dorm, in the common area, or during a study break in the library. No fighting over the remote with the roommate or disturbing them after lights out.
Embrace Wireless Earbuds
Every student needs headphones to focus on studying, watch a lecture in the library, or stay entertained during a commute. While over-the-ear cans are ideal for blocking out the world, they can be chunky and inconvenient for a busy student. Save some space with a pair of wireless earbuds. Apple’s AirPods are probably the most well-known, but there are plenty of options depending on your needs (and your wallet). Just make sure you take them out before class starts.</ziffbin>
Pick Up a Tech-Friendly Backpack
College isn’t all ultimate Frisbee on the quad; days can be long and grueling. Stay organized—and save your back—with a bag built to handle your tech. Laptop backpacks no longer look like jumbo pocket protectors; fashionable and functional options abound. Choose a backpack with security options, compartments to keep your gadgets in perfect condition, built-in charging, and comfortable straps. Our roundup of the Best Laptop Backpacks is a great place to start.
Make Use of the Library
There’s no need for a printer or scanner in your dorm room. The library offers many affordable (or often free) resources for all student administration needs, whether you need to scan some chapters of a library book or print a paper. It’s worth the extra effort (and it might just help you make a few friends.) Most university libraries also offer technology rentals, from laptops and chargers to projectors and cameras.
Seek Out Student Software Discounts
Google Drive is a great option for budget-conscious students, but for some, software like Microsoft Office is a must. Redmond has student discounts on Office 365, but some universities also offer their own deals. Before you pull out the credit card, check to see if your school offers inexpensive or free software for students.
Use Cloud Storage
Most parents and students believe they need an expensive external hard drive to protect their work and back up music, photos, and other personal data. But you can skip the trip to Best Buy and sign up for a cloud storage service. Dropbox, for example, offers 2GB of free storage; paid plans start at $ 8.25 per month for 1TB. Google offers 15GB of free storage, though that includes whatever you have in Gmail; upgrade to 100GB for $ 1.99 per month. Apple’s iCloud gives you 5GB free; 50GB is $ 0.99 per month.
Forget the Alarm Clock
Trying to wake up for early classes often requires an extra loud alarm clock. But even for heavy sleepers, there is no need for a state-of-the-art alarm clock. The simple solution is your smartphone. The built-in clock app as well as third-party apps on smartphones offer alarms at varying volume levels, and you can wake up to your favorite song instead of the radio or the loud beeps.
Throw Out the Cookware
You may think a microwave and hot plate are necessary for happiness and a full stomach in the dorm room. They’re not. Almost every dorm building offers a shared kitchen space that offers more than enough supplies and kitchen tech for all cookware needs. Save some money and use facilities that are available to students instead of hoarding food in the dorm room, forgetting about it, and letting it rot. Just don’t burn the popcorn.
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