Are Laptops Required for College, Online College, or Community College?

Laptop with word required on it
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Considering the price of laptops and how expensive college already is, it is understandable to wonder if laptops are required for college or if you can get by without one. However, laptops should be considered a required school supply.

Laptops are required for college. Students have to do the majority of their schoolwork online, and while colleges offer computers in the library or computer labs, these are not always available and are often overbooked. You cannot rely on only using these computers to do your work.

Let’s look at the benefits of having your own laptop for college, if you need a laptop if you have a desktop or iPad, and if you need a laptop for community college or online college.

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Do you need to buy your own computer for college?

Students need to buy their own computers for college so that they can complete their online assignments when and where they choose.

While students can use public computers (such as at the college libraryOpens in a new tab. or computer lab) or share a laptop with friends or family, this is not advised for college.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of having your own laptop for college.

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Benefits of having your own laptop for college

There are many benefits of having your own laptop for college, including:

  • Availability: The college library or computer lab may be closed when you want to use it, or all the computers may be taken. There may be a time limit on how long you can use the computer. At some schools, you have to put your name on a waitlist to use the computers. If you have your own laptop for college, it is always available.
  • Convenience: When you have your own laptop, you do not have to go to a library or computer or try to borrow a laptop from someone. At some schools, you have to put your name on a waitlist to use the computers.
  • Portability: You can take your laptop and study anywhere.
  • Time management: College is incredibly time-consuming. Students need to be able to work on their assignments or study whenever they have the time.
  • Software needs: You can install whatever software you need for your courses and any software you prefer.
  • Taking notes in class: A laptop is convenient for taking notes in class.
  • Online tests: Classes often have online tests or quizzes that often have time limits and set times when students can take them. Public computers may not be available at that time.
  • Storage: Being able to store all your files for classes in one place makes staying organized much easier.
  • Adaptability: 2020 taught us that even traditional students might need to go online for college. Having your own laptop means that you are able to do that.
  • For fun: Students can use their laptops for social media, video calls, streaming shows, gaming, etc…
  • Privacy: No one else can view the files you store on your laptop.
  • Security: Public computers can have security issues.

Drawbacks of having your own laptop for college

There are hardly any drawbacks to having your own laptop for college, but let’s look at why some people may be hesitant to buy a laptop:

  • Cost: Laptops are a considerable investment.
  • Responsibility: When you own a laptop, you are responsible for taking care of it. If you get a virus or it breaks, you are responsible for getting a new laptop. If you use computers at the library, they are not your responsibility.

The cost and responsibility are part of the price of being a student. They are not big enough cons to justify not getting a laptop. You should factor the price of a laptop into the cost of college.

Check out this postOpens in a new tab. to find out how to be responsible and take care of your laptop.

Should I get a new laptop for college?

Students do not need to get a new laptop for college if their current laptop still reliably works and meets their college’s minimum tech requirements.

Do I need a laptop for college if I have a desktop?

Students are not required to have a laptop for college if they have a desktop, but a laptop is still recommended since it is portable.

Laptops are portable, which allows students to study or do their work from anywhere. They are also useful for taking notes in class.

Another benefit of a laptop is that if you have a problem with your internet at home, you can take your laptop to a local library or restaurant with Wi-Fi and continue studying.

I had to take more than one test at my local library with my laptop because I had bad internet at home.

Do I need a laptop for college if I have an iPad?

While an iPad can be great for taking notes, reading, and researching, students cannot only use an iPad for college—they need a laptop. Certain software you need to use for courses is either not compatible with or not easy to use on iPad.

Most tests that you take online cannot be taken on an iPad.

For example, ASUOpens in a new tab. specifically states: “Mobile devices such as a cell phone, Google Chromebook or tablet computer (Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Microsoft Surface) will not provide the access and functionality necessary for ASU Online courses and are not recommended.”

In addition, any video or photo editing, coding, design software, or CAD taught in your courses should be done on a laptop or desktop, not on an iPad. 

Do you need a laptop for community college?

Community college students need a laptop. The libraries or computer labs at the community college are often smaller and have shorter hours than at universities which makes it even more likely that students will not be able to access a public computer.

Students at a community college will have many online assignments and will need the flexibility of having their own laptops.

Do you need a laptop for online college?

Online college students must have a laptop for school. Since everything is online, there are too many assignments to even consider using a public computer, and tests cannot be taken on iPads.

Now you know why you need a laptop for college. Share this post with a friend!

My favorite products for your laptop

Thank you for reading this article—I hope you found it helpful! Here are some of my favorite products for your laptop that I hope you’ll also find helpful.

External drive: Back up your laptop with an external drive. I have used Seagate drives Opens in a new tab.for many years, and their drives are great quality, and their customer support is very helpful!

Lap desk: Lap desksOpens in a new tab. make it easier to use your laptop anywhere, including your couch or bed.

Cleaning brush for electronics: Use a brush to clean electronics to keep your laptop clean.

Travelings case and/or bag: A protective laptop case Opens in a new a hard case that keeps your laptop safe when you are carrying it or traveling with it. Another way to carry around your laptop is with a laptop backpackOpens in a new tab. or over-the-shoulder laptop bagOpens in a new tab.. Use one (or even better, both) to protect your laptop when on the go.

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations for tools and products for students, check out this resourceOpens in a new tab. that I made for you!

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