|Do students need high-tech gear for college?
|By Dana Dratch
When it comes to packing up for college, less is more.
Since space and time are both in short supply, students should be
very selective about which "essentials" they take. This
means they're better off taking less so they'll be able to find
what they do carry with them.
"Like time management, you have to have a certain
degree of space management as well," says Ronald Johnson, director
of financial aid at the University of California, Los Angeles.
It's a tough line to walk. Most students are going
to be spending 75 percent of their time over the next four years
at school, but their focus is supposed to be on studying. So which
items enhance the environment, and which detract from schoolwork?
"There's not necessarily a cut-and-dried list of things that are good or bad to have," says David Stuebing, a graduate student in education and staff resident supervisor at Purdue University.
Some guys show up with the latest in gaming equipment,
"and that can be a great stress reliever," he says.
"Typically, it's more of a distraction,"
he says. "There are so many other opportunities on campus that
you'll miss out on because you're staring at a screen all day."
A good rule of thumb: "Set up the room so that,
when they return to the residence hall, it feels like they're going
home," says Susan Boyd, an assistant dean for student services
at Rutgers College. "That might be different for every student."
The computer conundrum
One big question: Do they take a computer and, if so, a desktop or laptop?
Many campuses provide computers, complete with the
latest software and color printers, in labs and residence halls.
Some schools are also going wireless, which means students with
laptops can use them easily in class and around campus. While laptop
portability helps students, it also invites theft.
It pays to know what the college already provides.
Then look at study habits. Students who prefer to study alone might
be OK with a desktop; those who take notes on a computer and use
it for group-study sessions might favor a laptop.
"I think a lot of it depends on what somebody's
able to afford," says Mark Oleson, assistant professor of personal
financial planning and director of the Office for Financial Success
at the University of Missouri-Columbia. What they don't want: an
option that requires them to rack up debt.
And they don't necessarily even have to make the choice during the first few weeks of school. It can be a smart strategy to start school, scope out the campus and computer facilities, take some classes and then decide what kind of machine best fills the bill, says Barb Frazee, executive director of university residences at Purdue University.
"You don't have to feel that pressure that you have to buy now," she says.
Students should make use of the resources available to them, says Michelle Geban, a senior psychology major and resident assistant at Rutgers University. "Take advantage of the stuff that's already paid for," she says.
During her school years, she realized that school fees got her access to labs with color printers and the latest software -- saving her tons of money for supplies and printer cartridges. Now the only time she uses her own printer is when she's crunched for time.
Cruising around campus
Do students need a car at college? Not really, according to several
administrators. It really does depend. Some schools prohibit or
limit cars for freshmen. While for many it can be a space issue,
school officials have also learned that cars can be a distraction
and expense, something most students don't need.