The days of a college student’s back-to-school toolkit including only pens, pencils, and three-ring notebooks are long gone. Nowadays going back-to-school is a little more high tech. Today’s tools of the trade include ways to get you connected and keep you connected, productive, and entertained.
Here are some obvious and not-so-obvious tech items and accessories essential to a successful return to school:
1. Laptop or Netbook: Chances are long before you head back to school, you’ve equipped yourself with a portable computer, either in the form of a laptop or netbook. While you may be more comfortable with either a PC or Mac platform depending on what you’ve been using for the years leading up to this point, you’ll want to check with your professors/class syllabus to see what platform is preferred or required. You may find that some classes require certain hardware/software platforms. Common devices you’ll see in the hands of students these days include the MacBook Air (especially the 11-inch, 128mb model) and the PC-based Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 models, which can function as both a laptop and tablet. Slim, and lightweight, many of these newer “mini” laptops have as much firepower as the larger laptops of yesteryear with the added convenience of extreme portability, which is ideal for classroom use and college life.
2. Online Backup/Storage: Every student needs peace of mind that their valuable digital files are safe and secure even if their hardware goes missing, gets damaged, or breaks down. Services such as Google Drive, iDrive, and Dropbox offer varying levels of storage and backup, from 5GB to 15GB of free storage to monthly subscriptions of around $10 for 1TB of storage.
3. USB Flash Drives: Another way to back up essential data and make it more portable is to use a USB flash drive. Many affordable models make 128GB of storage instantly available. All you need is a USB drive on your laptop.
4. Power Strips/Cords: You can never have enough cords and connections. Of course, you don’t want to turn your dorm room or apartment into a scene from A Christmas Story (fans of this well-loved 1980s film will know what I mean), but a few cords and power strips will go a long way to make your plugging in more convenient. Better yet, many of today’s power strips have built-in USB chargers, including some that are Lightning certified so they will charge your Apple devices.
5. Portable Backup Charger: When you’re on the go and beyond the reach of the electrical grid, a backup charger is a necessity for keeping your smartphone or tablet powered up and connected. Countless models abound to meet various needs, price points, and devices.
6. Portable Speakers: Listen to your music in a small space with a big speaker sound. Connect your phone, tablet, or mp3 player to a portable Bluetooth speaker to listen to music from your library or a streaming service such as Spotify or Pandora.
7. Noise Canceling Headphones: If there’s a loud party next door or your roommate insists on talking incessantly or playing his or her music loud enough for all to hear, now you can study in silence or enjoy your own music all by your lonesome with noise cancelling headphones.
8. Chargers: There’s a not-so-old saying, “You can never have too many chargers.” There’s no worse feeling than needing to power up and not being able to find the charger for your smartphone or tablet. At a minimum, you’ll want a wall unit charger as well as one that can plug into a 12-volt supply—and don’t forget to check that any chargers are approved for your device. Better yet, check out the latest “wireless” chargers which let you plop your phone onto a pad for overnight charging.
9. Amazon Prime: Need something and need it fast? Amazon Prime is a great gift for college students. Not only do they get free, two-day shipping on most items purchased through Amazon, they also get access to Amazon’s music library, streaming movies, and TV shows.
Of course, all these devices, accessories, and gadgets need a convenient place to “live” and be available when needed and where needed. Mobile Edge offers a wide range of stylish and student-friendly laptop sleeves, messenger bags, and backpacks to help students get organized, stay organized, and keep their gear safe.
Do you have other tech necessity recommendations for today’s college students? Share them here.