By Emily Roseman, Alumna of American University
Tech gadgets today come and go as quickly as the hottest fashion trend. But whether you are currently a social media diva on the campus or just trying to stay plugged in, getting on top of the tech totem pole can get tricky, and yes, expensive! Here are some of the top gadgets that are not only tech-savvy but also crucial to a more fruitful academic experience.
The biggest trend you can expect at the beginning of any semester are hot deals on computers and netbooks. Laptops are almost imperative to the college experience these days, but having the latest MacBook Pro every year starts to feels like paying tuition alone! Rather than wasting $2,000 every few years on a new laptop, try investigating the tablet game for school!
Personal tablets are a great alternative when taking notes in class but also keeping tabs with your regular social media platforms. Offered in any size, color or brand, tablets are now a great affordable way to stay on point with the rapidly moving tech trends. Base prices for tablets can run anywhere from $200 to $300, and you can opt for adding a wireless service to any device through your mobile carrier for an extra monthly cost.
While price is a major driving force when choosing a new tech device, the age-old question about size still lingers. Laptops have tried to embrace the ‘netbook’ alternative to those seeking sleeker size, but tablets honestly are the better option for students looking to take their home computer on the road. Tablets like the iPad mini are a perfect example that good things come in small packages.
Personal Favorite: iPad mini 16G: $329 base price with no add-on wireless package. BONUS: most college campuses have free Wi-fi across campus, so wireless comes free and you can get a pretty sweet college student discount off any Apple products!
USB Thumb Drive
It doesn’t matter if you’re a graphic design major or just writing a 20-page term paper. Heed my words: BUY A THUMB DRIVE! I cant express this enough to any individual entering college, a senior in college or even a graduate of college!
Having a thumb drive on hand saves you time and stress that is truly precious as a young professional. Embrace the inner geek I know that lives within you and buy a thumb drive for as little as $10 at your local book store and keep it on your keychain at all times. Having a thumb drive at a moment’s notice comes in handy during those last-minute group projects or surprise take-home exam you left on your desktop.
Thumb drives are not only useful; they are imperative to any given major at school. As a broadcast journalism major, I lived with at least five thumb drives for “on the fly” edits and shows I was producing in class I needed for my reel, but I even stole a few from my boyfriend for the occasional term paper (sorry sweetie).
Buying a thumb drive is not an investment; it’s a lifesaver when it comes to the unpredictable lifestyle of a full-time college student. They even come in the most adorable versions for those not terribly prone to the “nerdist” lifestyle!
Personal Favorite: Scan Disk 32 G: Perfect for storing a couple papers/exams on the fly for last-minute projects.
External Hard Drive
While thumb drives allow you the basic “transport and submit” mentality in basic college classes, having an external hard drive is second nature for any college kid pursuing a major that involves investing in your creativity. I learned the hard way that buying an external early one would save me endless nights of losing precious footage from my production classes early on.
Making the big leap from thumb drive to external involves real determination and a little selflessness when forking over a few hundred dollars for a terabyte of memory. But trust me, when editing film into the wee hours of the night with an 8 a.m. class looming overhead, you’ll thank me one day.
External hard drives not only are lifesavers for your standard laptop or PC, which come equipped with only so much data storage, but investing in an external saves you time wasted on filling boundless thumb drives and money when you find yourself at the Apple store wondering why your memory card is filled up. While external hard drives are usually mandatory for any TV/film production major at school, it is honestly a great investment/going-away-to-college gift a parent can impart on you (besides tuition).
Personal Favorite: I live by my Lacie 2 Terabyte external (base price $150 for massive storage). It’s prefect for any production/multimedia student with large files to back up.
Smartphone Charging Case
Communication is everything when it comes to going away to college. You learn quickly that no matter the distance from the old homestead, keeping in touch on a regular basis (hourly in my case) is mandatory when keeping mom and dad at bay. Keeping a fully charged cell phone these days is hard to come by, whetehr it be Instagraming your evening out on the town or having more Facebook notifications than homework assignments, smartphones end up draining their battery life long before your next block class.
Personal Favorite: PhoneSuit Elite Battery Case (for iPhone4/4s) boasts an awesome battery life for long nights out, plus the most affordable price on the market at $79!
When it comes to printing needs on campus, cost is everything. For many schools, printing availability can run slim and can set you back 10 cents a page, something that can put a total damper on that all-nighter term paper. Lugging a printer to school and finding space in a dorm room is far from desirable, but Epson has created a printer that takes up little room and boasts a laser-class speed.
Wireless functionality built in makes this a total winner when running late to class because you can print on the fly right from your mobile phone! No longer will begging for a few bucks to print off a final essay be your bread and butter, this high-quality printer is a student budget friendly find at only $150.
Amazon Prime Membership
Last but not least, this membership isn’t technically “techy,” but this free membership for Amazon’s shipping service “Prime” is the gift that keeps giving for college students and adults alike. Amazon offers anything under the sun from cheap textbook options to a fantastic tech section.
With a free six-month membership, Prime gets you free 2-day shipping off anything you order, exclusive student deals and discounts and a $5 credit towards any purchase when you refer to friends. After your membership trial runs up, Amazon still wins the online shopping game by giving you 50 percent off your membership.
Student discounts can at times feel like less than a bargain, but Amazon’s Prime service virtually pays you to find online shopping deals! And if it cant get any better, the student promotion still works for those continuing their education in graduate school. The gift of education really keeps on giving!