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Getting Ready for Back to School

31632742_mlGetting a student ready for school these days no longer involves just a pencil case full of pens and binders packed with paper. Today, your child’s school could even be one of the growing list of schools moving to ‘BYOD’ – ‘Bring Your Own Device’.

Students, particularly those studying at colleges and universities, simply cannot manage without a computer or tablet. Professors expect students to be able to retrieve assignments online and submit online. Lectures are often interactive, with questions and answers accessed by tablets and other tech tools.

How do you know what to buy ahead of the school year? Keeping up with the latest brands and the newest features can seem daunting. Here are some of our best tips:

  1. Check out the school’s website first to see if they have advice, or in some instances, actual requirements.
  2. If you’re planning a visit to the school ahead of class, visit the school bookstore (which these days, is way more than just books!) Staff at on campus stores not only know the latest in student technology. They also know what discounts are available for students and what “freebies” the school might provide in terms of virus protection, etc.
  3. Make a list of what you want a computer to do. For example, if the student is taking courses where they’ll be editing videos or doing graphic design they’ll need a media-ready computer. But for most, doing online research and writing essays, a less expensive computer is good enough.
  4. Be honest. Whatever you buy will be carried around in a knapsack, transported by bike and TTC. Make sure the model you buy is robust enough to withstand the daily life of a student.
  5. All computers, but especially PCs, require antivirus software; most new computers come with it pre-installed. Your school may also offer security software free. Otherwise, make sure you purchase antivirus protection with a subscription to keep it up to date.
  6. A good investment is anti-theft and anti-damage insurance. As one tech adviser told us, “the most common repair we see is from spilling coffee onto their computers!”

Before you make that big purchase, consider these as well:

  • Most software doesn’t come in a box anymore! You simply purchase an ‘unlocking’ key and download what is required.
  • WiFi capability is a must for connecting to free WiFi at school as well as coffee shops!
  • At a minimum, 16 GB storage and 2 GB RAM.
  • Screen size: For laptops an 11 – 13 inch screen (bigger is too heavy and bulky).
  • Battery life that lasts a full day of school and can be charged at night.
  • And finally, once that new piece of equipment is home, label it clearly and make a copy of the serial number, kept in a safe place at home.