A home computer or laptop has become very much of a necessity for the majority of students these days and most young people will have access to a PC or laptop at home. For those who are embarking upon a college or university education it is probably advisable to have a dedicated laptop that they will use solely for their studies. Not only will a typical further education student require constant access to the household’s computer but they may also be staying away from home and in this instance a laptop is more or less essential.
Thankfully the cost of computers overall has fallen considerably and as technology progresses then so the affordability increases. You really don’t have to spend the earth to get a good quality laptop and even budget ranges offer fantastic value when compared to what a machine with a similar specification would have cost 2 or more years ago.
What to buy – obviously your personal budget will be the main factor, as will the type of course you are enrolled upon. For most instances a machine which can run office applications such as word processing and spreadsheets will be more than adequate. For those studying advanced subjects involving complex designs then a machine with a dedicated graphics card may be worth considering.
Before buying a computer it’s probably a good idea to look through the course prospectus to see what applications you’ll be using. There should be a list of computer programs involved in the coursework and you can check what the minimum requirements will need to be in terms of available memory and storage capacity.
A laptop with an advanced dual core microprocessor and 2 or 3GB of RAM memory will usually be sufficient for most applications.
Everyday Usage – it’s worth remembering that, although commonplace, a laptop computer is still a sophisticated and delicate machine and will need to be taken care of. Also, it’s worth getting into good habits regarding battery maintenance and backing up the memory. Computers do get stolen and damaged so it’s essential that you adopt a regular back-up procedure at least once a week. Although this can become a hassle after a while you’ll certainly be grateful if the worst does come to the worst and you lose all your hard work.
Back-up options – Saving your work to a CD or DVD each month is a good practice to adopt. However, this kind of media back-up is notoriously unreliable, so it’s a good idea to have a secondary back-up option . This could be in the form of an external memory drive or may simply involve transferring files to a main PC. A handy way to back-up office documents is to send them to your own email account as an attachment. Not only is this a quick and simple precaution, it also puts your files on a remote server which you’ll be able to access from any computer.
Basic Software – as already mentioned this will depend to a large extent on the type of course you are studying. However, a basic office suite of applications will be essential. Word Processing, Spreadsheets and Presentation applications will be used often. There are free versions around which are very good or you may prefer to just buy a version of MS Office and put this on your computer. A graphics program may also be required and again there are free programs available. Some specialist applications such as PhotoShop or AutoCAD will be available with a student licence at a much reduced cost for a limited time.
An anti-virus and security program will also be essential; the paid for versions are usually best but again there are free options. Most importantly it is essential that these programs are updated regularly and a full scan carried out at least once a week.
Maintenance – modern laptops are generally maintenance free and will run for several years without any major problems. It’s a good idea to make sure the battery goes through a regular cycle of re-charge and discharge to ensure it performs at its best. Other than this it’s just a case of ensuring the laptop is kept in a suitably secure place and transported in a padded case to ensure it doesn’t get knocked about.
Modern laptop computers are extremely powerful educational tools and will serve you well throughout your time at college. If looked after correctly your laptop will not let you down and see you through college and into the start of your new career.
To see a recommended selection of student laptops please visit our site for construction students for a range of advice and information to help anyone studying for a construction related course at college or university. Construction Student.co.uk