To be successful in college, you need to be dedicated, focused, and prepared to do some hard work. But a few tools can help make the work a little easier, as well as get you through some of the requirements in your classes. Always look at the list of materials your professors recommend, but also invest in some of these essential tools:
A Laptop Computer
A laptop computer is as essential to college students as a spiral notebook is to middle-school students — arguably more so. You can use your computer to write the course papers that will be assigned constantly. These days, these papers will be required to be typed and to be formatted in a specific way, including a particular font type and size. You wouldn’t be able to meet those requirements without a computer.
You can also use your computer to research those papers or to look up additional information on course topics you are having a hard time understanding. You can use your computer to chat or email with classmates to ask questions or set up study sessions, to stay in contact with your professor, to post in the classroom forum or message board, and much more.
It’s vital that you get a laptop computer to take it anywhere, allowing you to study in the dorm, the library, or wherever else you feel comfortable. You can also take the laptop to class to type notes faster than you can write them.
Your professors will likely recommend some software that will help you complete specific projects, but if they don’t, you should be proactive in finding out what’s available. We’re not talking about the basics like Word or Excel. We’re talking about software that is specific to your course of study.
For example, if you are pursuing a fashion marketing degree, you might benefit from having some video creation or video editing software to get professional-looking results for your marketing videos. If you are pursuing a degree related to the medical field, you might benefit from a software package that allows you to create 3D models of anatomy or one that lets you track and analyze lab data. You may not need this specialized software until you are in the upper levels of your coursework, but it may be worth buying it early to build your skill and become proficient with it.
Your laptop computer will provide solutions for almost everything, but that doesn’t mean you always want to lug it around. A tablet can act as a backup in some cases, and it can be a lot easier to carry around.
Some tablets allow you to take notes with a stylus that you use to write on the screen. Some can be loaded with dictation software, which means you can hit “record” and let it write out what your professor says during the lecture, creating instant notes for you. You can even buy a keyboard for the tablet and use it just like a laptop.
You may not think of money as a tool, but it certainly is. Of course, you need money for tuition and your room and board, but you are also going to need money for a lot of unexpected things. You might need money to replace your laptop, to get that extra book your professor tells you about halfway through the term, to go to that exclusive lecture that will get you extra credit, or even participate in an unpaid internship outside the area.
Always plan ahead to have extra money when the need arises or when an opportunity presents itself. Work before and during college, and save everything you can.
The tools you’ll need for college go far beyond highlighters and a dorm fridge. You need a good laptop computer at a minimum, as well as some industry-specific software to get better results from your project. But you may also find a tablet user, and you’ll definitely need to have a good savings fund for those unexpected extras that will come along. Soon enough, you’ll be graduating, and with effort, you’ll do so with accolades that will help you land the job of your dreams.