Do I Really Need a New Laptop for College?
The short is answer no! There are many free or cheap alternatives to buying your own, new laptop.
I personally do have a bulky, old laptop, but it never really leaves my apartment. It’s too heavy to carry to class and too slow for most of my homework anyway. Because of this, I’ve learned there are many alternatives to buying your own computer!
Computer Labs (Free!)
Over the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time in the engineering computer labs, and overall my experience with these computers has been great. Most labs have dual monitors, are loaded with the software necessary for your major, and have the appropriate hardware required to run even the most demanding software. While the university offers many software packages available to install on your own computer for free or reduced price, these are limited and may require a pretty high performance computer in order to run well.
Other places on campus such as the library also have computers with basic office suite software, which are great for writing papers, checking email, and printing.
Laptop Checkout (Free!)
There are some, rare occasions when I need a laptop for class, in which case I simply check out a 1- day or 8-day laptop from the library. It’s free for students to checkout laptops and other equipment (paid for by your student technology fee), just be sure to return equipment on time to avoid late fees!
A laptop can be a really expensive investment, so its important to consider how much you will use it and what you will use it for when deciding what to buy.
If you decide to purchase your own laptop, here are a couple of alternatives to buying new from a store:
ISU Surplus: If you are interested in buying a used laptop at a discounted price, ISU Surplus has a public sale every Wednesday selling used university equipment including laptop and desktop computers, monitors, and accessories.
The College of Design’s laptop program: If you do plan on buying a new laptop and are a design student, you might consider purchasing a laptop through the College of Design.