Tech Toys: The College Years
Best tech to bring with you for dorm and campus life.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: August 11th, 2012
Walking across campus is better with a soundtrack, so bring an MP3 player, and dorm nights aren't the same without MarioKart tournaments, so you should consider bringing some sort of console.
hipping off to college can be really exciting, really scary, and completely confusing all at once. But one thing that shouldn't be confusing is technology at college. And what we mean by that is that you shouldn't be worrying about what the best mp3 player, laptop, small television, etc. are—you should be enjoying life on campus without any hiccups. So without further ado, here are some of our recommendations for things you might want while you're living in the dorms.
You're going to need a computer at school, unless your college has some sick computer room that we don't know about. In other words, you're going to be fending for yourself. We're going to really go out on a limb here (not really) and suggest you get a laptop, not a desktop computer. Why? Here's why. Your dorm is tiny. Your roommate will want to watch a movie the night you have a paper due. You will have to leave your room if you want to get anything done. Need more reasons? You can take a laptop to class and take notes more easily than you could on paper. You can go set up camp at a cafe and study for the next 17 hours. You can—wait for it—go to a bar at 3 p.m. on a Saturday and do some homework and drink a beer (once you're 21, anyways, since, uh, most bars won't let you in when you're underage). Point is, laptops are portable. Your life in college is going to be ultra, mega flexible. And you're going to want to be able to adapt.
You're also going to want a printer—and by want, we mean need. Thankfully, all you'll really be printing for the next four (or five, or six?) years are course packets, midterm study guides, and papers (5,000 words, 11.5-size font, and if you're really in a crunch, mess with the margins—but you DID NOT hear that from us [and seriously, don't do it, because your profs will notice in .2 seconds]). That said, you don't really need a top-of-the-line printer with scanning capabilities and whatnot; a simple ink-jet one will do.
Aside from a computer and a printer, you're probably going to want a flash drive so you can bring documents to other labs and dorms (say, for group projects where you don't want to lug your computer across campus if you don't need to), and an external hard drive to back up things you can't lose.
A mouse is also a good thing to have, since trackpads on laptops can be a pain if they're the only way you have to navigate. A mouse isn't absolutely necessary, but boy, can it change things like proofreading.
A calculator is also good to have, although you likely won't need a fancy graphing one like you used in high school. That said, if you still have that expensive calculator, bring it—why get a new one if you've got a perfectly good one laying around?
Walking across campus is a lot better when you've got a soundtrack, so if you're thinking about getting an mp3 player but you're not sure if you'll really use it...well, you will. Aside from walking to and from class, you'll appreciate having one for background music when you're studying or working on papers, and you'll likely use it at least a few times to drown out a loud roommate's noise while you're trying to sleep. Like in real, non-college life, too, you'll use it at the gym. You don't need anything top of the line here, just a basic model will do (depending on how much storage you need), and you're going to want to watch yours like a hawk—don't leave it lying on a table somewhere while you go to the washroom (say, during marathon study sessions at the library), because when you come back, it'll more than likely be gone.
An e-reader might be a fun thing to bring with to college, too, though not entirely necessary. As a college kid, you're going to be broke as a joke, and e-books tend to be less expensive than physical books. Furthermore, you're going to live in some of the smallest living quarters you'll ever live in throughout college, so you may not want to lug around boxes full of books. Like the mp3 player, though, guard this one a bit, since it's small and easy to steal.
A microwave, though not very "techy," is a must-have for dorm-life, since you're going to get sick of dorm food sooner or later. And what better medium to cook your ramen noodles (after all, they're all you're going to be able to afford sometimes)?
A TV. Between you and your roommate, one of you should probably bring a TV, unless you're one of those hipsters who "doesn't watch TV." It doesn't need to be a big one or a fancy one, but you'll probably want one—otherwise, you'll end up in the dorm lounge, at the mercy of whoever got there before you.
In the same vein, if you're even a little bit of a gamer, it's fun to have some sort of console with you in the dorms—and speaking from experience, it doesn't need to be the latest and greatest; in one of our dorms, we had a Nintendo 64, since there's really nothing that compares to MarioKart tournaments. Nerdy? A little, sure. Fun? Yes, absolutely.
As far as other things you'll want or need on campus or in your dorm, it's a bit of a learning curve. Some people may want Netflix or Hulu Plus subscriptions, while other people may find a desktop computer to be more convenient later on when they get their own apartments (though, for what it's worth, we still like laptops). That said, this list here covers a lot of your bases. Good luck!