From the Kenosha News on 4-24-05

Choosing a Computer as a Gift for a Graduate

      If you have a child or grand-child that is a college-bound high school senior, you may be thinking about a computer as a graduation gift.  Brenda Poggendorf, Vice President for Enrollment at Carthage, talked with me about how parents can select the right computer for their graduate.  Below are her insights and a few of my own.

      First, if your student knows what college they will attend, find out if the college has recommendations, requirements, or special offers.  For example, Carthage recommends laptops since they can be taken to class for note-taking and presentations, and they can be taken to the library for research or work in small groups.  Carthage also offers special pricing on a standard model of IBM laptop as well as Microsoft Office software at a very low price and Symantec anti-virus at no cost to full-time students. 

      You can find out more about what your child's selected college requires/offers by contacting your admissions rep, the IT (Information Technology) department, or checking the college's web site.  (See Carthage's web site at http://www.carthage.edu/ais/computers)

Some additional questions to ask include:

bulletDoes the college provide a laptop as part of the college experience?
bulletCan I lease a laptop through the college?
bulletIs wireless connectivity available?
bulletAre there fees for connecting to the internet?
bulletAm I required to buy any additional equipment? 
bulletIs any specific software (especially anti-virus) recommended or required?
bulletIs a printer recommended or can I use printers at the college?
bulletWhat is the availability of computer labs on campus?  Are they often full?
bulletDo they restrict some types of internet use like gaming or music sharing?

      Second, if your student knows what they plan to study, this may help determine what computer is best.  For example, graphic design programs, music, and some sciences utilize Macintosh computers because of their superior graphics capabilities.  Most other programs especially business and social sciences recommend a Windows platform.  If your student doesn't know what they'll be studying, Windows is the safer bet.

      Third, if you really want to provide your student with a computer but affording it is an issue, speak with a representative from the college's financial aid office; student loan funds can be used to cover the cost of a computer since it is an educational expense.

      If your student is uncertain what college they will be attending, get as much information as you can from each to decide the best overall choice.  A new name brand Windows laptop is nearly always acceptable.  Features you may want to specifically look for are wireless connectivity, a CD-RW/DVD drive, a longer warranty (3 years is best), longer battery life, and a personal printer.  Don't buy a wireless router or other connectivity device until you find out whether they will be allowed at the college your student attends.

      A computer is a great gift for a graduate.  Used for academic pursuits, it can be a powerful tool to help your student succeed.      

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 4-24-05