As you prepare to head off to college, or send your child off, there are many items you will be busy purchasing for your apartment or dorm room. One of the most important components will be a computer. A laptop is a very necessary part of your college experience, and I see hundreds of students carrying them into my classes each semester. All different brands from the most expensive (well over $1,000) to the least expensive (under $200). Before you run out and buy yourself or your child the MacBook Air trying to justify its link to academic success, understand there are new rules in many college classrooms across the nation. There are no clear policies at colleges and universities for where and when to use laptops in the classroom. It is up to the discretion of every individual professor as to when and if they allow the use of them in the classroom.
Recent research is finding students' inability to multitask in the classroom a distraction to the retention of class material. The study by Bernard R. McCoy, published in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Media Education, found students continue to waste class time by using their smart phone or laptop to text, check social media or surf the web. The same study finds students admit they find it a distraction to their learning. The tough part for many of these students is actually shutting their phones or laptops off during class, and not all professors have clear guidelines on their policies for electronic devices.
Therefore, keep in mind the following:
1. It is absolutely encouraged and acceptable to take notes the old fashioned way on paper with a pen or pencil!
2. The majority of my students across many colleges STILL USE PAPER and PEN to take notes.
3. If you still want a laptop consider an inexpensive, light one.
4. A laptop is nice to have but not a necessity. All colleges have computer labs for student use (and some allow access 24 hours a day). Most colleges even allow students to check out laptops for an extended period of time.
5. A printer is also not a necessity. With so many assignments being submitted electronically they are not used as often as a decade ago. Additionally, all colleges offer printing stations where students can print assignments for a small fee.