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Do students need a laptop at uni?

(25 Posts)
ICantFindAFreeNickName Sat 02-Nov-13 12:16:43

We were planning to get my ds a laptop for Christmas in preparation for uni next Autumn, as I assumed most students took laptops with them to lectures these days.
However my ds thinks he will take his desktop computer (an Apple Mac which he is very attached to) with him (provided he gets accommodation he can stay in over Christmas & Easter), so does not think he needs a laptop.
Does anyone know if students use laptops in lectures / tutorials etc. He will be doing a maths or science based degree if that makes any difference.

AliceinSlumberland Sat 02-Nov-13 12:18:48

No, I didn't see many people with laptops in lectures. His desktop will be fine. I did see quite a few people with iPads though, useful for getting articles up etc.

webwiz Sat 02-Nov-13 12:24:11

DD1 did a science degree and DD2 is doing maths and neither have ever taken their laptops to lectures. For Maths its easier to make written notes as a lot of it is weird mathematical symbols and strange equations smile He'll be fine with a desktop in his room.

aufaniae Sat 02-Nov-13 12:26:26

I did Digital Media. Lots of students took laptops /ipads into lectures, but most didn't.

Also, as well actually as in lectures, he may want to use a computer in between lectures, when doing group work or just to get stuff done, but without going back to halls. It depends on how he likes to work (and he may not know this himself till starting).

At my uni, on my course you had access to brilliant computers onsite, but people on non-computing courses had to use the "pool" rooms, which had rubbish computers on them IMO.

So, somewhat ironically, being on a computer course at my uni meant I had less need for a computer onsite.

I have no idea what the facilities are like at your DS's uni though! You could ask him to post on and ask what facilities are like for his school.

If you want to get something for this Xmas, I'd suggest pergaps an ipad or mini-ipad so he can take notes in uni, then sync it with his computer (check he actually wants one!)

Or, ideally, wait till he starts, and buy him a laptop or ipad a few weeks in, as an early xmas present for next year, when he has a better idea of what he needs.

chemenger Sat 02-Nov-13 12:27:33

Many student do bring laptops in every day, not so much for lectures, although some do use them to follow online material along with the lecture. They are useful for group work and tutorials - they can access notes, question sheets and often text books as well as looking up data etc. it's much more convenient than in my day when we only had books. iPads do seem to be becoming more prevalent and are obviously smaller to cart around, I'd go for that. I'm in engineering.

aufaniae Sat 02-Nov-13 12:27:37

Thinking back, you could see from behind that lots of the students who brought laptops into lectures had facebook and twitter open in lectures so could even be a distraction!

AtticusMcPlatypus Sat 02-Nov-13 12:32:45

I've just finished a degree and some, but not lots of students had laptops in lectures. I have an iPad and found that much more useful than lugging my laptop around everyday. Was great for notetaking (there are some fab apps) and for downloading articles as pdfs to read later. If he already has a desktop maybe something more portable is the way forward, particularly if he already has an Apple Mac then the iPad sync would be a doddle.

ICantFindAFreeNickName Sat 02-Nov-13 12:48:44

Thanks for the quick replies. Looks like we will be saving some money this Christmas. I think I will offer him an Ipad instead, then he can stay off mine!

LOLisNOTaPunctuationMark Sat 02-Nov-13 12:55:14

I'm at uni.

The majority of lectures are put up on the student part of the uni's website. Students then print off the lectures/slides and take them to the lecture and make notes on them.

Other students (me included) just take notes on paper during lectures.

In my busiest lectures (maybe 400 students), I'd say no more than 10 people have laptops/netbooks (or whatever they're called).

i use my laptop a lot at home though for writing assignments and doing online research. It's also good for making up PowerPoint presentations and taking it into uni.

I'd say, as a student, a laptop (or any computer) is great to have at home for essays etc. But i wouldn't buy him one for the sole purpose of using it in lectures.

mumeeee Sat 02-Nov-13 14:13:36

I was going to say yes but if he has a desktop computer in his room he'll be fine. DD3 has a laptop in her room but doesn't take it to lectures. The only thing to think about is wethers his room will be big enough for a computer.

fussychica Sat 02-Nov-13 15:11:11

Not for lectures but you do need something portable for working outside your room - in the library, at home, at friends, whilst travelling. My DS wouldn't be without a portable device. Whether it's an ipad, netbook or laptop is down to personal choice.

DifferenceEngine Sat 02-Nov-13 15:12:26

iPad all the way. As a mature student it has revolutionised my uni experience.

ISingSoprano Sat 02-Nov-13 18:00:30

My ds is in his first year. He has a laptop but doesn't take it to lectures. However, he did discover that having his own printer in his room makes a huge difference.

madeofkent Sat 02-Nov-13 22:11:42

I agree with the printer, we are going to get one for DS because the uni charges are horrific and he has a lot of printing to do. DS has both a PC and a small laptop that he carts around, but he says that he finds it most useful for working in bed! His uni provide him with a Mac laptop as he needs it for music composition and it would be too expensive for each student to have to provide their own. So I do wonder if you may not have exactly what your DC needs at the time they go off to uni. I'm really surprised that you have managed to get this far without having to buy one, all the schools round here now make their pupils buy one, but employ someone to fix them when they go wrong.

rightsaidfrederick Sun 03-Nov-13 12:53:41

It depends on the course as to how many people take laptops to lectures. I think it's more students on essay based courses who take them in, as people on maths and science based courses have to use lot of symbols that simply cannot be typed into a computer fast enough.

However, I think it's still useful to have one - if you want to do work whilst you're on campus, then it's not always particularly easy to find a computer available, so it can still be useful to have a laptop. Similarly, what will he do over the holidays when he's back home, minus his desktop? He'll need some access to computers, as a lot of the materials will be distributed online via the intranet (Blackboard, Moodle etc.).

Perhaps you could buy him a printer (always useful) this Christmas, and leave open the possibility of a laptop next Christmas, if he finds he needs one during first semester?

SlowlorisIncognito Sun 03-Nov-13 14:01:43

I think a desktop and a tablet of some kind is fine. Having something portable is not essential but I do think it is a "nice to have" especially for group work and checking emails when not at home. I think having his own printer would also be good as it makes printing off assignments easier.

A lot of people I know have laptops that never leave their bedroom!

KneesoftheBee Sun 03-Nov-13 15:01:22

DS2 waited until after he had started at Uni to decide on whether he needed one or not. He already has his desktop computer in his room for gaming working on.

In the end he decided to get a chromebook. It wasn't that he needed it as such but it helped him stay around the uni and interact with other students in between lectures rather than returning to his room.

My DD1 never takes her to lectures (she's a med student) DD2 however (nursing) does all her notes in lectures on her macbook. But she is a very speedy typist!

Down side.. she killed her macbook (accidentally) when her drink bottle leaked into her bag.. it got straight into the macbook..expensive insurance job. She now has it in a waterproof sac.. so worth bearing in mind if he takes an ipad or laptop to lectures.. don't take a drink!

ICantFindAFreeNickName Tue 12-Nov-13 16:45:41

Thanks for all the replies, I had not even thought about a printer!

MrsBright Fri 15-Nov-13 10:02:29

A full size laptop can often by heavy and actually you want something much more portable than that. A 'Netbook' (mini laptop) is perfect if they want something for note-taking, writing essays,emails, internet etc. but not if you intend anything using discs, games etc as they arent that powerful. A small Netbook is the size/weight of a text book - easy to just stuff in your bag.

Many small printers are dirt cheap (but price the printer cartridges as these can be stupidly expensive despite the low cost of the printer). This is only useful if you are likely to be printing off entire essays at midnight, as there will be printers etc in libraries/depts/halls accom for communal use. and most written assignments are now submitted online anyway.

mathanxiety Sun 17-Nov-13 03:35:22

I agree it's not so much for lectures as for all the other places you need a computer -- library, etc. My three oldest students have all had laptops, which they use for everything including music and movies. DS is doing biology, with a lot of other sciency courses and uses his constantly. When he fried his first one he had the second within two days and he was lost without it. Even DD1, who did economics, used hers constantly.

Actually, they all had laptops from about age 14 on as so much homework required the internet and many of their books were online. Also teachers accepted work emailed to them.

I would say it's an essential piece of equipment.

nlondondad Tue 24-Dec-13 14:14:12

As he has an apple desktop, which he says he will take with him, I would have thought that an iPad air would be worth buying for a start, possibly with a keyboard option, and see how he gets along.

We bought my daughter an Apple MacBook, one of the white plastic ones, in 2009 when she went to University (English and History at UEA) and she found it very useful indeed; it was her sole machine, and continues to be so. She used it all the time, including for watching DVDs....

Regarding printer best to get a desktop office monochrome laser, if you are getting one.

Att100 Mon 30-Dec-13 02:41:14

Macbook Pro....all the way...portability is key imo. Can't take your desktop on holiday, or to the coffee shop or friends' houses. But if budget allows perhaps even a Macbook and Ipad Air (latter for taking lecture notes)...just make sure you have insurance.

Att100 Mon 30-Dec-13 02:42:43

oh and a nice bluetooth printer !

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Mon 30-Dec-13 02:55:09

I had a laptop at uni, it was much easier to do late night revision and assignments on it rather than at a desktop.

I'd 100% say get one, but he won't need one for lectures and stuff.

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