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Do you need a computer for college?


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#1 Just_One_Question

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 04:10 PM

Hey, I just saw this guy's topic. In it he asks for a recommendation for a laptop for his university studies. Obviously he needs one as he is planning on majoring in a computer-related field.

However, I was wondering, since I plan on returning to school soon, is a computer necessary for college or not?

I generally dislike using computers in studying and use the library ones if it's absolutely needed, like once or twice a year. I also do not plan to major in anything tech-like. I'd like to study Economics. I've seen in some movies that students are present with their laptops in the classroom. Is that just a Hollywood gimmick? Would I be able to just get by with a pen and paper?

So yeah, Do you need a computer for college?

I would appreciate all helpful answers. Thank you!:)

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#2 hamluis

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 04:50 PM

Asking such...is, IMO, apparently overlooking the obvious.  I can only speak from perspective...which is that of a 70-year old fossil, living in the U.S.A. and who is fully capable of observing the obvious :).

 

Take a look at any university curriculum...handbook...student life...and you have an answer.

 

Your question reminds me of a comedy album title released long ago..."Why Is There Air?"

 

I myself am 50 years removed from the university environment...I did not utilize or need a computer in that era.  That was 1967...and society has progressed technologically in those 50 years...that today we have technological amenities that I could never have anticipated.  A computer in 2017 is not an amenity, it is a personal necessity for anyone striving to exist in an environment that that headed for an even more technologically oriented future.

 

Computers/programs/games today are basic...office tools...basic business tools...basic academic tools...basic "fun" centers...for the vast majority of those who can afford them...and many of those who cannot afford them but manage to acquire computers, games, programs, etc...illegally.

 

Look around and you will see that...in the history of man...the only tool which even comes close in terms of importance to every person alive...is the automobile.

 

Louis


Edited by hamluis, 25 April 2017 - 04:55 PM.


#3 Just_One_Question

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 05:10 PM

I...I...Imma take that as a yes.:lmao:
I suppose, it wouldn't hurt if I bought some cheap tablet and a bluetooth keyboard and kept them in the drawer until I needed them.
Thank you for your answer, you are so kind!:)

#4 smax013

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 07:12 PM

Do you need a computer for college?


I suppose you might be able to survive college without your own computer (or something like a tablet that can potentially serve well in place of an "actual" computer), but odds are pretty darn high (bordering on definite) that you will need to use of a computer at various points while going to college.

At a minimum, there is a very good chance you will need access to computer to write paper(s)/report(s) or in today's world prepare a presentation. And in today's world, many universities will have some sort of online companion "tool" for the class where the instructor will likely post assignments, announcements, grades, etc.

And then there is the matter of what "major" you pursue. While that may impact the likely need for writing paper(s)/report(s) (generally, most "majors" at a 4 year university will likely result in you writing at least one paper at some point during your education...for 2 year programs, the odds might decrease, especially for some "majors"), you might also need to use specific "major" related computer programs for some "majors". This would typically be the more technical, science, and engineering related "majors", but it can (I believe) also apply to "majors" you would not assume would require learn such specialized programs.

In the end, it will be HEAVILY dependent on what you are going back to study. I suppose that there are some things where you could survive with going to a library. This would be even more true if you are going to a physical campus that has numerous computer labs, which certainly major universities do (I taught at a major, nationally known public university that has tons of computer labs) but would also likely be true of smaller universities. If your university has computer labs, then you likely can survive without a computer of your own. Of course, if you are going to do long-distance/online learning, then that kind of by default requires computer.

Now, do you need a computer to take notes in class. In my opinion, typically not. Of course, there are students who do take notes that way...and I did not particularly mind students taking notes in class on laptops when I taught. The potential risk is that those students might be doing more than taking notes (such as reading Facebook or Twitter or emails, etc), but that was their choice as long as they did not disrupt the class. I treated them like adults who could make their own choice on how much they paid attention to what I was saying.

I can say that when I went to school it was paper notes for me, but that was largely due to the fact that laptops did not really exist at the time in a cost efficient or weight-efficient way (they were luggable, but HEAVY). So, they were not anywhere close to practical for a college student to lug around campus. That being said, computers where necessary for my studies. And in my case, I had my own computer as I commuted while living at home. This meant I could do my work that required a computer at home rather than spending large amounts of time at computers labs on campus (the same large public university I have taught at...they had tons of computer labs back then as well). If I were going to school today, that might change. I can type WAY faster than I can write these days, but then there is the issue of any illustrations/figures...unless I had a touch screen that I could draw on, I would still need paper for illustrations/figures.

Don't know how much any of that helps.

#5 Just_One_Question

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 07:33 PM

That helps tremendously. Thank you, that was very exhaustive!:)
Just one thing though,

At a minimum, there is a very good chance you will need access to computer to write paper(s)/report(s) or in today's world prepare a presentation. And in today's world, many universities will have some sort of online companion "tool" for the class where the instructor will likely post assignments, announcements, grades, etc.And then there is the matter of what "major" you pursue. While that may impact the likely need for writing paper(s)/report(s) (generally, most "majors" at a 4 year university will likely result in you writing at least one paper at some point during your education...for 2 year programs, the odds might decrease, especially for some "majors"), you might also need to use specific "major" related computer programs for some "majors".

Wait, what!? So in the English language a term-paper... is not actually written on paper? What?:lmao: I thought that they just gave you an assignment, you wrote down your thoughts and then you re-wrote them once again on some clean sheets of paper and then just gave that paper to the professor in order to grade you.
I guess, I could still stick to that method and once I am done, I could just scan them and upload them digitally via the library PCs.

Anyways, thank you once more for being so helpful!:)

Edited by Just_One_Question, 25 April 2017 - 07:34 PM.


#6 smax013

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 07:47 PM

That helps tremendously. Thank you, that was very exhaustive! :)
Just one thing though,

At a minimum, there is a very good chance you will need access to computer to write paper(s)/report(s) or in today's world prepare a presentation. And in today's world, many universities will have some sort of online companion "tool" for the class where the instructor will likely post assignments, announcements, grades, etc.And then there is the matter of what "major" you pursue. While that may impact the likely need for writing paper(s)/report(s) (generally, most "majors" at a 4 year university will likely result in you writing at least one paper at some point during your education...for 2 year programs, the odds might decrease, especially for some "majors"), you might also need to use specific "major" related computer programs for some "majors".

Wait, what!? So in the English language a term-paper... is not actually written on paper? What? :lmao: I thought that they just gave you an assignment, you wrote down your thoughts and then you re-wrote them once again on some clean sheets of paper and then just gave that paper to the professor in order to grade you.
I guess, I could still stick to that method and once I am done, I could just scan them and upload them digitally via the library PCs.

Anyways, thank you once more for being so helpful! :)


I honestly don't know if you would be forced to type out such papers or if you could hand write them. I have not needed to do an "English paper" in decades and I DEFINITELY did not teach any such course (that was the subject I hated the most in high school and college...I am an engineer and was SUPER glad after my VERY minimal English/creative writing/humanities type courses were done).

But, also keep in mind that I am talking about more than just a paper for an English/creative writing/humanities type course. I had engineering courses that required papers/reports. Most of the time, such papers/reports required the inclusion of tables, figures, charts, etc. That is MUCH easier to do on a computer...if not effectively require to be done on a computer.

Again, this will be heavily dependent on what you are going back to learn.

I would also suggest you look at what the school you are planning to attend say on the matter of computers. They tend to offer advice or requirements on computers these days.

The end result, to me, is that you likely would be hard pressed to not need a computer in some form. You might be able to survive by using library or computer lab computers, but you almost certainly will need access to a computer, even if it is something like a Chromebook or even a tablet that you can somehow print from (whether directly to a printer or send the stuff to the cloud to then be printed from a library or lab computer).

Edit: And then there is the issue of whether or not you are required to electronically submit things. As you noted, there are ways to deal with that if you hand write things. But, there can also be assignments that are completely completed online.

Edited by smax013, 25 April 2017 - 07:57 PM.


#7 Just_One_Question

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 07:57 PM

I see. Very good information. I am looking to study Economics, btw.
Thank you!:)

#8 smax013

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 08:01 PM

I see. Very good information. I am looking to study Economics, btw.
Thank you! :)


I am no expert on the study of economics (the extent of my knowledge of economics is not much beyond balancing my checkbook :grinner: OK, I exaggerate a bit), but I have a strong feeling that you would need to make pretty heavy use of a computer. I would imagine that spreadsheets might make a pretty significant appearance in your studies, but I would also assume you would be writing papers as well that would require figures, charts, tables, etc.

#9 anajames

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Posted 02 May 2017 - 04:50 AM

Well, i did my college without a personal computer or a laptop. In case i needed, I used my brothers. Most of the time it was the computer lab i utilized the most.



#10 vercetti_

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 07:59 PM

i find my laptop really comes in handy when i remember forgotten essays or work i have to do in the most random places around campus or when i really need to follow along a lecture that i cannot see from far away.



#11 egjk

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 03:30 PM

I would actually argue that as long as you can access library computers fairly reliably you probably don't need your own one.

I didn't have a portable computer until my final year of my 4 year degree and even then I still preferred working in the library because it was quicker to access journal articles and papers because you didn't have to login for authentication. I took paper notes in every single class I attended, almost no one brought laptops with them and those that did were invariably scrolling through tumblr or some other distraction...

In 2015 I graduated from my degree in a (usually considered hard) language with First class honours (i.e. A good grade) without ever bringing a laptop with me :)

That said it probably depends on what kind of course you intend to study.

#12 smax013

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 12:58 PM

That said it probably depends on what kind of course you intend to study.


And it can also depend on whether you are going to school full time and living on campus vs either not going to school full time or no living on campus. If you are not regularly on campus, then using computer labs and/or library computers can be more of a challenge and/or hassle.

#13 egjk

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 01:07 PM

 

That said it probably depends on what kind of course you intend to study.


And it can also depend on whether you are going to school full time and living on campus vs either not going to school full time or no living on campus. If you are not regularly on campus, then using computer labs and/or library computers can be more of a challenge and/or hassle.

 

 

:thumbup2: very good points, I had to wake up at 7am to commute to the library which opened at 9. If you came any later than the library opening you definitely wouldn't get a computer because there were probably around 100 computers in the whole library and according to wikipedia around 6000 students... So if you are going to pick between schools I would definitely say look at the facilities // ratio of number of computers to number of students  :orange: things were particularly brutal around deadlines / exam time



#14 smax013

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 01:39 PM

That said it probably depends on what kind of course you intend to study.


And it can also depend on whether you are going to school full time and living on campus vs either not going to school full time or no living on campus. If you are not regularly on campus, then using computer labs and/or library computers can be more of a challenge and/or hassle.

 
:thumbup2: very good points, I had to wake up at 7am to commute to the library which opened at 9. If you came any later than the library opening you definitely wouldn't get a computer because there were probably around 100 computers in the whole library and according to wikipedia around 6000 students... So if you are going to pick between schools I would definitely say look at the facilities // ratio of number of computers to number of students  :orange: things were particularly brutal around deadlines / exam time


There is also just the issue of immediacy of access. If you are home the night before a paper or something else that requires a computer is due and you realize you need a computer and you DO NOT live on campus, you now need to drive to campus to use that computer. Granted it is still somewhat similar if you live on campus (i.e. have to walk to a computer lab on campus), but adding the need to drive somewhere tends to add a layer to the mix, especially if you also commute to campus by taking a bus or car pool because you don't have a car.

#15 egjk

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 02:06 PM

 

 

 

That said it probably depends on what kind of course you intend to study.


And it can also depend on whether you are going to school full time and living on campus vs either not going to school full time or no living on campus. If you are not regularly on campus, then using computer labs and/or library computers can be more of a challenge and/or hassle.

 

 
:thumbup2: very good points, I had to wake up at 7am to commute to the library which opened at 9. If you came any later than the library opening you definitely wouldn't get a computer because there were probably around 100 computers in the whole library and according to wikipedia around 6000 students... So if you are going to pick between schools I would definitely say look at the facilities // ratio of number of computers to number of students  :orange: things were particularly brutal around deadlines / exam time

 


There is also just the issue of immediacy of access. If you are home the night before a paper or something else that requires a computer is due and you realize you need a computer and you DO NOT live on campus, you now need to drive to campus to use that computer. Granted it is still somewhat similar if you live on campus (i.e. have to walk to a computer lab on campus), but adding the need to drive somewhere tends to add a layer to the mix, especially if you also commute to campus by taking a bus or car pool because you don't have a car.

 

 

Good points. I think that smax013 probably has the more salient advice as this seems to relate to the USA directly. I live in the (not North American) city I went to university in and the public transportation has been sufficiently good and affordable that I still do not have a full driving license despite having had my provisional for over 8 years now (I can imagine this is shocking to some people from the US)  :blush: I will say that I managed fine having to travel over an hour to get to the library and I was able to manage my time and submit my essays before the library closed on the day they were due (usually the library closed at 11 and the deadline for submissions was 11:59) but if actually getting to the library is really difficult then it probably makes more sense to have a computer. It might be worth costing out how much you would pay for a computer vs how much you would pay travelling to the library over however many years you would do it.






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