Back to school computer

What computer should you buy your soon to be college freshmen?

First, How much money can you spend? Unfortunately when buying computer you usually do get what you pay for. So if you are spending $400 on a computer expect it to deteriorate faster than a $2000 machine (as in it might last a year vs the $2000 machine that will last for 4 easily). Also, expect that the $400 computer components are probably already 3-4 years old and will have trouble running current software. A minimum I usually tell people is to spend $700 and get it on a good sale. Less than that and you are asking for trouble. $1000-$1200 is even better and what the majority of students need. And $1200-2000+ is what you need for a high end machine for gaming, computer programmer, graphic artist, movie editor, sound editor. Once you have decided your price point, then decide…

Do you need a Mac or PC? Well maybe Macs are already out of your price range. So you can skip to the next paragraph. If you are not sure which you should get ask yourself the following: Are you good with computers (tech geek) or going into computer science, engineering, business or a science field? Then I would get a PC and if you come across any issues with your PC, this highly rated repair service can help you out. So much software only runs on a PC so you dont want to get into a class where something you are using wont run on your computer. If you are not good with computers and just need something that will last for your 4 years to write papers, browse the web, and be used in courses, then definitely get a Mac. They are great for those that are not tech people and usually will last 4+ years. I had one that lasted 8 years.

Next you need to decide what brand, upgrades, and where to buy…First, shop around. Look online and at stores. Take a sales associates words with a grain of salt. First they are trying to make a sale and they are NOT usually computer experts. If they were computer experts they wouldn’t be a sales associate at Best Buy or Walmart they would be working at a company making 60-90k a year. Secondly, they are NOT in your program and do not know what you really need. So do your own research. There are tons of back to school sales and all of the computer companies offer discounts for students. So look and compare. But what brand? If you are getting a Mac then you know you are getting a Mac. If PC however, there are tons of options out there. I would personally rather look components and price rather than brand per se but I do like Dell and Alienware (a dell brand) but there are many others out there too.

So what components should you be looking at? Disk space. How much do you currently use? I would recommend at least 250-500GB. Also remember there are free options for space such as dropbox so space might not be too much of an issue anymore unless you have tons of pictures, songs, movies (which all college kids have). Remember that if you run out of space you can buy a 1TB (1oooGB) hard drive for under a $100 at any time so don’t worry too much about the space issue. Next you have Ram. Get a minimum of 8GB but I would probably not get under 12GB if I wanted this to last for 4 yrs. My current computer has 32GB (and its 3 yrs old) just to put what you are buying into comparison of what is out there. Ram is one area where you need to upgrade. If you are a gamer or in a major where you need a fast computer get as much ram as you can afford. Then of course you need to consider the video card and processor. I usually try to get the best I can here as well. The least important thing for me is disk space as I can always upgrade that and buy more. As far as screen size, it doesn’t really matter – that is your preference. Get what you are comfortable with.

Should you buy a warranty? Yes. Please get it. I watch computers fail all the time. Please get it for at least 3 yrs if possible. Computers, especially laptops will wear out as they are carried from class to class and stuffed in a backpack. Keep in mind your school will fix computers as well so make sure you check with your school to see what they offer.

Should you buy Office and other software as an add on? NOOOOO. Wait until you get to college. Colleges will offer huge discounts on this stuff. For example you can buy the full office package at my university for $30. They have tons of software too so make sure you check before putting out big bucks on software.

Oh, and if you are wondering the answer is NO, a tablet cannot replace a computer. A tablet is a great compliment to a computer but you need a computer. You cannot get by with just a tablet.

 

Should you go to college?

Should you go to college?

This is an interesting question in a time where student debts are becoming outrageous and grads are struggling to find jobs. I am going to explain my thoughts on this question.

First – who shouldn’t go to college?

College is not for everyone. If you have other plans and already know what you want to do (and it doesn’t require a college degree) then maybe you do not need to go. No one forces anyone to go to college. It’s a choice. If that seems like the only choice given to students – blame their mentors, parents, themselves, etc. because it is a choice. Maybe you won’t need that degree to start up a business. However, keep in mind that even Donald Trump sent his kids to college and then on to an MBA before letting them help him run his business empire. Are you going into the military? Well you may not need college right away. Then there are other reasons too: Are you immature? Don’t know what you want to do? Are not motivated? Are better with a trade/skill then books? Then maybe you should reconsider and figure out what you should be doing before going into college – or even consider trade school or community college first. Also, sometimes taking a few years off from school after high school and working or something (such as volunteering) can help you decide if college is right for you and give you time to mature. And these are just some of the reasons students should not go. Please though, do not avoid college because ‘bill gates’ or marc zukerburg’ didn’t go. Remember both of them went to Harvard and then dropped out. They were not normal people. They each got nearly perfect on their SATs, had started companies while in high school, and eventually dropped out of Harvard when they got what they needed at Harvard (and without Harvard neither Microsoft or Facebook might be here today). Bill Gates was so smart he was exempt from Math in high school so he could program computers. So more than likely you should not be using them as examples.

Is college worth it?

The simple answer is Yes. The more complicated answer is that it depends because its no guarantee to success and please note that it never has been that or claimed to be that. The numbers definitely say it is. In fact, any way you look at the numbers it is definitely worth going to college. College is an investment in yourself. Are you worth investing in? That is up to you. I went to college for 12 years and it was definitely worth it. I learned how to think, critique, evaluate, problem solve, and how to work. I feel that I mostly made good decisions with my courses, schools, and majors. If you pick a major that you are not interested in and then do not use the degree then maybe it would not be worth it. I often hear people say there are worthless majors in college but I usually can disagree with their points because most majors are there because some job demanded them. Just because you are not familiar with a subject and the jobs it leads to does not make it wrong. Take art history for example (a major usually brought up in this type of discussion) when you do a simple google search you find that these majors are highly desired in museums, auctions, and so on – thus its actually a very needed and valuable major. Its when someone goes into art history and then decides that they want to do something else that the major could be seen as ‘not valuable’ to that person while in fact the degree is very highly valuable when used. Now for some numbers – a report just released by the Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington said that college graduates make on average – 98% more per hour than those without degrees. 98%! In fact, any way you look at the numbers college grads are significantly better off. Unemployment of college grads is less than half that of the overall population. The lifetime salaries are also significantly higher and that gap keeps growing. That doesn’t mean that someone without college will not make a lot of money, it just means on average, people do not.

Some numbers:

How much someone earns over their lifetime:

Median annual earnings of full-time year-round wage and salary workers ages 25–34, by educational attainment: 1995–2012 from http://nces.ed.gov/

earning by age:

Is college too expensive?

Yes and no. Most students leave college owing about 25k, which in my opinion is not bad considering that is how much an average car costs (something most people pay off in 5 years). In fact you can check out the average student debt here:

http://projectonstudentdebt.org/state_by_state-data.php

You can get a very good college education for 25-50k at a community or public university. “According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013–2014 school year was $30,094 at private colleges, $8,893 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,203 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.” (collegedata.com). Thus 8-9k per year for a public university = 32k total. If you were to work and go to one of these schools you would probably graduate with zero debt – I did and I went to college for 12 years. In fact, I had a savings. Now of course if you go to a college that costs 250k for a bachelors degree and go into a profession that makes 50k a year you are going to have trouble paying that off. This is no different than buying a house or car you cannot afford. If you cannot afford it, don’t do it. So do not blame the college for costing so much, blame the student for choosing a college they could not afford. Just remember, college prices are similar to car prices – there are cars that cost 10k-20k new and cars that are 250k new. You cant say cars are expensive and only be referring to that 250k car while ignoring all of the 10k ones. Additionally, while there may be a quality difference in cars there is much less of a quality difference in colleges. In fact, many colleges have very similar quality (to an extent) – whether public, private, or ivy league. What differs? Well the connections you make while attending but overall education will not be too much different (it will be different I just want to stress its not as significant as the car example I used). Its really about what you put into it. Professors are guides, guiding students. They cannot force you to do well or be successful. One last thing to point out here – if you are concerned that public universities are increasing their tuition too much each year, please look at how much funding is being cut from them by the state before jumping to other conclusions (although keep in mind other factors are always at play but the biggest cause for an increase right now is state funding being cut). Remember that while in state students might only pay 5k a semester to go to school, the state is paying the rest of their tuition – it actually costs about the same as a private school when its all said and done (because you pay tuition and the state pays the rest of your tuition). So when the state cuts funding by 10%, there might need to be a 10% increase in tuition to make up for that the money the state was paying for your tuition. While those numbers I just presented are not exact by any means, it is how it works. So take that into consideration when you wonder why tuition is going up. See here for more information on that.

When should you consider college?

1. When you want to learn. College is great for this. Its not the only way but if you are interested in engineering, its very difficult to learn it on your own for a million different reasons (motivation being the biggest). If people could learn everything on their own there would be no such thing as classes – people would just go to the library or internet and figure it out. This does not work though – people are not motivated to do that and cannot know if they have or have not fulfilled competencies that someone in the field they are studying should know.

2. You want to enter a career that requires a college education. So you want to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, architect, museum curator, etc – well they all require degrees.

Lastly I will leave you with this: My kids will be going to college. Most of my colleagues kids will be going to college. Most doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc. kids will be going to college. There is a reason: Education is valuable and it can really pay off.

Australian university to issue 11,000 iPads next year

Some excerpts from the article:

“The University of Western Sydney said in a statement that it plans to distribute 11,000 iPads next year to every new student and member of the faculty “to support learning and teaching innovations across the curriculum and in informal learning environments.””

“The iPad initiative is part of a curriculum overhaul at UWS that will stress “flexible study options” and “a blended learning model,” The Australian reports. Traditional lectures will be augmented by a more interactive learning approach, Krause said.

“Mobile technologies will be a key part of this strategy,” she said. “We want to support our academic staff to make the most of iPads and custom-designed apps in class so that, even in the largest lecture theater, students have access to just-for-me, just-in-time interactive learning experiences.””

My thoughts:

While I am personally more inclined to use laptops over tablets because they do so much more, I think things like this can be very beneficial if implemented correctly – and that is the key. If they just buy professors and students a bunch of iPads, I would not expect much good to come out of them…at least not a large % anyway. Now if they train the professors and students how to use them, provide good resources, and support, then it could be an awesome initiative.