This is the most comprehensive laptop guide for college students who are interested in learning about everything laptop related.
In this new guide, you’ll learn everything ranging from why you need a laptop in college to the best laptops to use as a college student.
(Including lots of answered questions that have never been shared on any website before.)
Let’s dive right in.
1. Do you need a laptop for college?
Whether you’re going for computer-heavy courses like STEM, Computer Programming, Photoshop, Engineering or Maths, etc., that require online analytical tools, or other courses that have fewer requirements for a laptop like Arts and Social Sciences, it is recommended to have a laptop as a college student.
Here are the reasons why you need a laptop for college:
- For convenience and ease-of-work
- For taking notes in class
- For completing more school work in less time
- For typing and submitting reports
- For personal/e-learning purpose
- For analytical, programming, or designing classes
- For learning in study groups
- For taking certain tests in class
2. Do you need a specific laptop for college?
You do not need a specific laptop for college.
However, you do have to consider that:
Unless you are going for courses that require heavy computer usage, you want to make sure that the minimum specification of your laptop is at least 4GB RAM, 250GB SSD, intel core i3 processor, and a 6-cell battery.
3. What type of laptop do you need for college work?
There is no specific answer to this question, however, there are some general considerations in picking out the most suitable laptop for your need:
What should you consider when choosing a laptop type for college?
Based on what you need the laptop for, you can either get an ultrabook if you are going to be doing a lot of heavy software use, a netbook if you just need to surf the web and do some writing, or a notebook if you’re going to be doing some video and photo editing.
4. Do I need a laptop for studying computer science in college?
Based on the college where you’re majoring, you don’t necessarily need a laptop, as some colleges provide dedicated computer labs with the same software you’d use in this class to all its students.
However, it is advisable to get a laptop as a computer science student in college as there are some lab-taken-to-class sessions, some weekly quizzes which are to be done in the classroom itself, and for your own personal learning at your own convenient time.
5. Do you need a laptop for community college?
Yes, you do need a laptop for a community college as a student as it is more convenient when compared to always using the computer in your community college’s library.
Reasons, why you would need a laptop in community college, includes:
- For studying anytime you want, anywhere
- For keeping all your study files where they are easily accessible
- For privacy and security purpose
- For carrying out your online assignment easily anywhere
- For learning on-the-go
- For taking notes in class
- For studying in the library even if there are no available computers
- For specific classes that require the use of a laptop eg. Psychology Communications classes.
6. What laptop do most students use?
Based on each student’s needs, there are different available laptops for use.
How then do most students know which laptops to use in college?
Most students prefer to use notebooks as they can run every available software they need and are not very expensive, while students in creative disciplines like graphic design prefer to use the powerful, expensive ultrabooks, and students with low budget opt for the netbooks as they are inexpensive and can be used for simple, web-surfing tasks.
7. Can you survive college without a laptop?
A laptop is a very important but not necessary tool for a student. Depending on your major, however, you could either need a laptop for survival in your college education or be able to go through college without having to use one.
Going through college without a laptop can be hard if:
- Your major requires heavy computer usage
- You can’t easily access online materials and files without visiting the library
- You can’t do your online assignments whenever you choose
- You intend on saving more time studying
- You want to learn on-the-go
- You want to install your own third-party software
- You want to save your own data and files
- You are taking analytical, design, or programming classes
8. What if I can’t afford a laptop for college?
You don’t have to worry immediately if you can’t afford a laptop for your college education as there are other options you can choose from pending when you are able to get a laptop for your use.
Here are ways to get past this obstacle:
- By interacting with those outside your cohorts
- By making use of the computer in your college library
- By using your mobile phone for minor tasks that do not require heavy computer usage
- By applying for a student loan to buy a laptop
- By borrowing laptops from your college library
- By borrowing from your friend to buy a used laptop
- By using a desktop if you have one
- By sharing your roommate’s laptop pending when you get yours
9. Do I need a laptop if I have an iPad or tablet?
An iPad or tablet can carry out similar functions as a laptop. They can be used for writing, saving data, accessing online materials, and learning on-the-go.
If you have an iPad or tablet, you do not necessarily need a laptop, except if your major is very computer-intensive.
10. How do I choose a laptop for college?
Based on your specific needs for a laptop in college, there are various options to consider before choosing a laptop.
However, the basic requirements for choosing a laptop for college include:
- Screen size: Atleast, a 15-inch laptop screen would do for all a student’s basic needs
- Storage capacity: 250GB SSD would work perfectly for all purposes as you can easily save all your files without having to stress about insufficient space
- Price range: Between $300 – $500 should be enough to get you a pretty good laptop from Amazon
- Battery life: Consider at least a 6-cell battery as they can provide between 3-5 hours of usage time
- Processor: At least, an Intel Core i3 processor should be enough to power all the necessary software for a regular student
- RAM: At least, 4GB of RAM is enough to allow applications to run smoothly for regular student use
11. What are the best affordable laptops for college students?
While there are various laptops with different specifications to choose from, you want to make sure the laptop you will be getting for college is able to do the job you need it to do.
Here are 5 of the best affordable laptops you can get as a college student:
1. Acer Chromebook 314
Best Budget Chromebook for College Students
With 4GB RAM, 14inches of screen size, and its own personalized Chrome OS, the Acer Chromebook 314 offers about 12 hours of battery life and a comfortable keyboard for typing, writing, and carrying out researches, which is the essential need of any college student.
Screen: 14-inch LED; high definition 1366 x 768 pixels
Storage: 32GB eMMC
CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 1.1Ghz (dual-core)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 600
- Excellent battery life
- Bright, clear screen
- No touchscreen or fingerprint reader included
- Not suitable for heavy usage
2. Microsoft Surface Go 2
Premium design with a more affordable price
Microsoft Surface Go 2 is Microsoft’s best affordable laptop with premium design at a considerable price and is capable of running windows 10.
RAM: 4GB – 8GB
Screen: 10.5” 1920 x 1280 (220 PPI) PixelSense Display
Storage: 64GB eMMC – 128GB SSD
CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core m3 – Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615
- Premium design
- Can run windows 10
- No stylus pen included
- Specs aren’t so great
3. Acer Spin 5 (2020)
Beautiful 2-in-1 laptop for students
The Acer Spin 5 comes with fantastic battery life and can be converted into a notepad, thanks to its form factor as well as the availability of a stylus pen.
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.5″ (2256 x 1504) 3:2 touchscreen display
Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics
- Strong battery life
- Stylus included
- Premium design
- Bloatware includes popup ads
4. Gateway Ultraslim Notebook
Best budget ultraslim design laptop for college students
Gateway Ultraslim Notebook with a 16GB RAM laptop with an intel core i5 processor, and has a super smooth interface, fantastic speed, and awesome video quality.
Screen: 13.1 x 8.9 x 0.8 inches
Storage: 256GB SSD
CPU: Intel Core i5-1035G1
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics
- Sleek, slim design
- Fingerprint reader included
- Fast browsing speed
- Not for heavy usage
5. Dell Latitude 7490
Best overall student laptop with a flexible budget
The Dell Latitude 7490 is powerful for day-to-day work, has an excellent battery life, and doesn’t have to break the bank before it can be owned.
RAM: 8GB DDR4 RAM (2400MHz)
Screen: 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 resolution IPS
Storage: Intel 545s M.2 256GB SATA SSD
CPU: Intel Core i5-8350U quad-core 1.7GHz
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
- Reasonably priced
- Superb battery life
- Excellent overall performance
- Dell proprietary PSU
12. How many GB should a laptop have for college?
There is no recommended storage space necessary for a laptop as a college student.
However, the barest minimum space you do want to make sure your laptop has as a college student is 250GB SSD, as you will be required to save a lot of files as well as applications and software related to schoolwork.
13. Can you rent a laptop for college?
Yes, you can. These days, some local electronics stores, as well as some college libraries and IT centers usually have the option to rent-a-laptop for about $30 per unit for a laptop.
14. Are Chromebooks good for college students?
Based on the student’s need for a laptop and their major in college, the Chromebook could either be the most suitable option for college students or not.
Here is why a Chromebook is good for college students;
A Chromebook (netbook) is good for college students because it can easily be used for personal learning, taking notes in class, doing assignments, surfing the web, studying on-the-go, and is less expensive when compared to the ultrabook and the notebook.
However, unlike the notebook and the ultrabook, the Chromebook(netbook) cannot be used for heavy computer usage as its features are far more compressed, and thus, cannot be used for courses that are computer-intensive.
15. Laptop or desktop; Which one do I need?
Depending on your needs as a student, a laptop or desktop can be very efficient.
However, as a student, if you want portability, ease of use, and longer battery life, then a laptop is more suitable for your needs.
16. Do I need a laptop for college if I have a desktop?
Although both a desktop and a laptop serve the same purpose, you will need a laptop as it is more portable and doesn’t need a power source to work every time as compared to a desktop.
17. What are the best places to buy a laptop for college students?
Whether you’re buying a budget laptop or a high-end laptop for college, there are various places to buy a laptop.
Here are the best places to buy a laptop for college:
18. How can I save money while buying a laptop for college?
If you are planning on buying a laptop for college, there are several ways to help you save money and reduce cost.
Here are some tips to help save money while buying a laptop for college:
- Workout a fixed budget you’d not be going over
- Stay away from gaming laptops
- Apply for student discounts from Apple or Microsoft
- Buy a refurbished laptop from Newegg
- Buy a used laptop from eBay
19. List of colleges that must require the laptop?
Not all colleges require their freshman students to have a laptop but recommend they do.
However, here is a list of institutions that require a laptop for freshman students:
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- University of Florida
- Virginia Tech
- University of North Carolina
- Wake Forest University
- Babson College
- Opus College of Engineering
- Foster College of Business
- University of Minnesota Rochester
- Case Western’s Medical School
20. Do I need an expensive laptop for college?
No, you do not need an expensive laptop for college except your Major is computer-intensive and requires the use of different software.
Here is the average requirement for a laptop for college students:
As a college student, you do want to make sure your laptop has at least 4GB of RAM, 250GB SSD, runs an Intel Core i3 processor, and has at least a 6-cell battery.
21. What do college students use laptops for?
Based on your needs as a student, there are several needs that a laptop can be used for in college.
Here are some uses of a laptop for college students:
- For taking notes in class
- For completing assignments
- For personal learning after class
- For surfing the web for research
- For storing digital books
- For learning programming and designing
- For preparing class reports
- For carrying out final year projects
- For class presentations
22. Is there a need for laptops in the first year?
If you are Majoring in courses that will require you to program or design, then yes you will need a laptop in your first year.
However, for other regular courses, you should get a laptop after completing your second year as it would be useful when starting your final year project.
23. Can a smartphone replace a laptop for college students?
No, a smartphone cannot replace a laptop for college student’s use.
Here’s why a smartphone cannot replace a laptop:
A smartphone helps to compliment a laptop for easier learning, but cannot carry out major functions of a laptop like programming, carrying out class presentations, designing, and doing complex analytical work and spreadsheets which are part of the essential objectives of college students.
24. Should I buy a gaming laptop if I am a student?
Except you are majoring in engineering, animation and game development, or carry out GPU-intensive projects, you do not need a gaming laptop as a student.
However, there are certain things to consider if you still want to buy a gaming laptop.
Here are factors to consider before going ahead to buy a gaming laptop as a college student:
- They are often a target for theft
- Their battery life isn’t the best
- They are heavier and bulkier than normal laptops
- The gaming ability of this laptop can be distracting
- They tend to run loudly even when not doing particularly heavy tasks
- They aren’t portable
- They are more expensive to purchase than normal laptops
25. Do college-bound high school students need a laptop?
While it isn’t compulsory to own a laptop, it is advisable however that every student have their own laptop so they can work on their assignments freely.
However, most colleges already have a computer lab and libraries with computers, so it isn’t a necessity to have a laptop immediately as a college-bound high school student.
26. Are business laptops good for college?
Unless you have special hardware needs, a business laptop is more than adequate for college students as it can be used for basic laptop needs like learning, writing reports, and researching topics.
27. How much should I spend on a college laptop?
There is no specific price to spend on a laptop for college, however, most people do well with a budget laptop between $300 – $500 with at least 4GB RAM and 250GB SSD.
For students that require a powerful laptop in their majors, however, between $500 – $1000 will get a very good, powerful laptop for your needs.
28. How to get a laptop for college?
If you are planning on getting a laptop for college, you can either decide to buy a laptop or arrange one for your needs.
If you choose to buy a laptop, then Amazon is a great place to look as they have amazing laptop offers.
However, if you choose to arrange a laptop, there are certain options for you to choose from.
Some arrangement options for you to get a laptop include:
- The rent-to-own a laptop option allows you to own the laptop after 12 – 24 months on a flexible payment option
- You can rent a laptop through a local electronic store for about $30 per month
- You can also rent a laptop from your college library for a few hours either for free or for a small fee
- You can arrange with your roommate to share laptops during specific hours of the day.
- You can apply for a free laptop if your college has a laptop program for its students
29. Do most college kids bring laptops to class?
Depending on your college, and the professors in charge of the different courses, you can either bring your laptop to class or not.
However, based on research estimates, it is believed that about 90% of students own a laptop, and about 65% of these students actually bring their laptops to class (Fried 2008).
30. Do I need to purchase anything else along with the laptop?
No. You do not need to purchase any additional accessories for your laptop as they already come with their own charger, and can easily fit into your school bag.
However, if you do have the budget, there are some additional accessories that you can get alongside your laptop.
Some additional accessories to get alongside your laptop includes:
- Skin stickers
- Laptop bag
- Screen protector
- Replacement Bluetooth keyboard
- External Bluetooth mouse
- Camera privacy cover
- Portable extra battery
- Hard-shell laptop case
- Lap desks
- Docking station
- A lot more useful laptop accessories are listed here on Amazon!