***This post is part of the Yakezie Blog Swap Series. The topic this time around is “Your best tip for a college freshmen”. This post is from Jon over at Free Money Wisdom. He was gracious enough to allow me to take control of his blog today, so I am returning the favor. You can also check out my post over at Free Money Wisdom today. Take it away Jon***
It’s that time of year again where freshmen head to college to start their adventure of a lifetime. As technology has grown year after year, it has become more important than ever that college students have the right computer to get their schoolwork done. However, there are so many different kinds to choose from that it might be easy to get confused and frustrated in your search for the right kind of laptop. At the same time, you need to know how to save money when purchasing a laptop for your college freshman. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:
Do your Research
Some experts say that there are certain brands of computers that you want to stay away from. In recent years, there are newer manufacturers who are at the cutting edge of innovation when it comes to laptops. This includes companies such as Asus and Acer, both of which provide great deals on laptops. It makes sense to do some research online by reading customer reviews on sites such as Amazon.com. That way you can see what actual customers have thought about their purchase before you invest the money.
Leave your Freshman at Home
One of the worst things you can do when shopping for a laptop is taking your college student with you. Remember that they are going to be very excited at the prospect of getting a new, shiny laptop. They might try to put a great guilt trip on you to buy a much higher end model than you really need. Unless you want to break your budget, make this a solo shopping trip.
Stake out your Shopping Area
There are many different places that you can search for a laptop, including the Internet. While it might seem logical to go to some of the larger electronic stores such as Best Buy or Staples, you probably won’t get the best deal there. Instead, go to some of the large, big-box stores such as Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart or Costco. Some areas also have a store called Fry’s that offers some great deals on electronics. Check out places such as Amazon.com as well since they often have special sales at this time of year.
Know your Specs
It’s also very important to understand exactly what you’re looking for in a freshman laptop. You don’t necessarily need a high-end computer with all kinds of bells and whistles. Most of the time, college students will be using it simply for the Internet, Microsoft Office and maybe watching video streams. You want to purchase a laptop that doesn’t weigh a lot since your student will be carrying it around quite a bit. Look for at least a 100 GB hard drive, a minimum 2 GB of RAM and a wireless card so that the student can connect from different locations.
Some students will try to insist that they need a Mac, but that isn’t always the case. If they are stuck on that idea, you can also look into getting a refurbished MacBook. You can get a refurbished unit at the Apple store, and it will be certified by Apple so you are protected (Editor’s note: This is a great tip! My wife did this while in college and her laptop worked flawlessly for the next 7 years).
Becoming a college freshman is a very exciting time in the life of your child. However, it doesn’t mean that you need to spend a lot of money to get them the right kind of laptop. Remember that you’re simply looking for something reliable, lightweight and well reviewed so that you know you’re spending your money wisely. In the end, the main idea is to get your child such a good education that they can purchase the best laptop money can buy one of these days!
(Editor’s note: The only thing I can add to this article is that often times the individual schools have specific requirements for their college freshman. Even more important, certain programs also have minimum requirements on laptops. For example, a graphic design or landscape architecture major will require a Macbook. Colleges also have laptop vendors that partner with the schools to provide great deals. The college I work for has an Apple vendor on campus. They automatically factor in the education discount, and you can use any excess financial aid to make your purchase).
Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon