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Seeking college advice
Old 04-03-2008, 08:46 PM   #1
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Seeking college advice

Okay, the good news is my son got accepted at his first choice school and it's an inexpensive state school at that. In fact when I checked tuition it was less than half what I expected and we've got more than 4 years worth already sitting earmarked for college, so the usual first concern (paying for it) looks like a non-issue. Lucky us.

My question is what other things do I need to know about or take care of as a first time college parent. For instance, do freshman all run around with laptops these days? From what I've seen of campus, I'd guess not, but they all are expected to have a computer of some sort in their room. I expect he'll need a printer for homework.

I'm planning to set him up with a checking account with an ATM card and they all get school book store accounts automatically, so he'll have ways to get books and pencils and pizza as needed.

What else should I be thinking of? Any parents of college students or recent college students with experience to share? Stuff you wished you had, or wished you had known about before starting school?
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:57 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by growing_older View Post
Okay, the good news is my son got accepted at his first choice school and it's an inexpensive state school at that. In fact when I checked tuition it was less than half what I expected and we've got more than 4 years worth already sitting earmarked for college, so the usual first concern (paying for it) looks like a non-issue. Lucky us.

My question is what other things do I need to know about or take care of as a first time college parent. For instance, do freshman all run around with laptops these days? From what I've seen of campus, I'd guess not, but they all are expected to have a computer of some sort in their room. I expect he'll need a printer for homework.

I'm planning to set him up with a checking account with an ATM card and they all get school book store accounts automatically, so he'll have ways to get books and pencils and pizza as needed.

What else should I be thinking of? Any parents of college students or recent college students with experience to share? Stuff you wished you had, or wished you had known about before starting school?
Emachine computer and printer with a 15 in flat screen monitor OR find a dell laptop . 399 for the emachine 499 computer laptop. Is he going to work while in school? Car on campus? Sports??

Bottom line if he hasw a meal plan, and he gets a part time job he might have enough cash to do things without you having to fund the pizza, beer and dates he decides to go on. He is 18 now, make him pick up some of the load .
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Old 04-03-2008, 09:25 PM   #3
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Before you buy the computer check with the school. They often have specific recommendations for types of computers needed. If your paying for tuition, room and board, let him pay for his entertainment ( pizza, movies, etc.) Once he moves into the dorm, give him his space. Don't bug him, let him call you when he wants to talk. He needs his independence.
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Old 04-03-2008, 09:55 PM   #4
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Yes, all students run around with laptops these days. They are far more useful to a student than a desk-top. A computer is an absolute necessity, and a laptop is nearly so.

Mn54 is correct in stating that some colleges practically require a certain type (even a particular model) computer. However, this is much more rare than it was a few years ago, and even at its height there were only a few colleges that made these sorts of requirements.

In choosing a computer, it's best to just go along with what your son wants. Suggest something smaller and lighter, with good battery life, rather than trying for sheer power. If he's uncertain, here's a hint: Apple computers are all the rage on campus these days.

A laser printer would be very useful too. In my opinion, only laser printers are of sufficiently-professional quality for reports, plus they are fast and economical. An inkjet would be nice for social photos and stuff, but they are too expensive to run over time and color is rarely necessary for schoolwork.

Your son's maturity level, and especially his ability to withstand adverse peer pressure, are critical to his early success. However, if he is living on campus, you will immediately lose almost all ability to supervise his behavior. You might as well give him his space (he'll appreciate your trust), help when he asks for it (think "money"), and relax.

By the way, I'm a professor.
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:45 PM   #5
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I'm in the same boat. My daughter is headed to James Madison, also an inexpensive state school so I'm a bit relieved. I'll be listening for advice too, but I already planned on getting her a laptop. Hadn't thought much about a printer. Are they not widely available to use at school, or should they really have their own?
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:51 PM   #6
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Hadn't thought much about a printer. Are they not widely available to use at school, or should they really have their own?
Printers are available, but it usually requires the student to go to a computer lab, which may have them waiting for others to complete their print jobs before getting what they need, not to mention possibly going to another section of the dorm/campus to get the job done.

While the cost may not immediately be realized, spending a little money on a decent printer that they can use at their convenience will be more than worth it.
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:58 PM   #7
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I have one son who graduated in 2006 and another son who is a junior in college.

I wish I would have known about Half.com sooner than I did. It's a part of eBay where you can buy and sell textbooks. You can save a lot when you buy and make more when you sell them than using the campus bookstore. I've also found good prices online from Amazon, WalMart, and Target. And another member here recommended AddALL book search and price comparison

My older son was a Computer Science major and he really needed to have a desktop, since he needed to be able to upgrade easily. But bringing it back and forth over long breaks was always an issue. He bought his first one and then built his 2nd one. His very large monitor was important to him, so a laptop wouldn't do.

The younger son already had a Mac laptop and for him a laptop was perfect. Easy to use and carry and he never had a need to upgrade.

About a printer. At the schools my sons attended there were computer labs with printers in every dorm and in many campus buildings. But for many classes, all homework can be submitted online. Very handy.
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:51 AM   #8
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I'm planning to set him up with a checking account with an ATM card...
If this is his first checking account/ATM card, I'd suggest a crash course in managing money.

Laptops are a necessity. Doable without a printer, but an inconvenience and they are not that expensive. You don't have to overdo it...just something for him to use locally.

Oh, and don't forget the iPhone. He'll need it to be cool...

G2
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:26 AM   #9
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I would definitely go with a printer. Otherwise trying to print at 1am is a pain in the *ss as you'll have to finad an all night computer lab, which may be inconvienent. When I bought my HP laptop they threw in a free printer. Look for deals like that...
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:29 AM   #10
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laptop yes
printer yes
make sure the laptop can access wireless networks at the school
the long battery life comment was a good one, maybe even buy a second battery and a lock for the computer (so he can lock laptop to a desk).

I would suggest work study for food $$ (meaning work a campus job 3-10 hours per week for weekend meal $$).
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Yes but ...
Old 04-04-2008, 09:34 AM   #11
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Yes but ...

Laptops are required at some schools. Some require a Mac instead of a PC so ask before buying. A laptop is nice to have but not for the reason many people think. The biggest reason is limited space in dorm rooms.

On my campus, I seldom see students taking laptops to class since they already have plenty to carry. Likewise, there is limited desk space in many classrooms so there is not a place to put books, notebooks, and laptops. Add to that you will seldom have convenient power outlets so the laptop will need to be recharged after several classes. A small minority of professors forbid laptops because some students become distracted with email, games, and text messaging.

Library use? Sure but we're back to the "lug factor" and many libraries will let you checkout laptops. And while it is a minor issue in my experience, it is easy for a personal laptop to be stolen while a student is searching for books in the stacks.

My (seldom followed ;-) advice to parents is:

1. Wait a semester to see if the student actually needs a computer. Many dorms and libraries have computer labs and in every case I know, there are computer labs scattered across campus.

2. See if you can strike a deal with the roommate. You'll bring/rent the microwave (sofa, food, ink cartridges, etc.) if they'll let you use the computer. In any case, don't bring two printers to a dorm room (space again).

Mike Honeycutt
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:36 AM   #12
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In any case, don't bring two printers to a dorm room (space again).

Mike Honeycutt
Agreed. My roomate and I each had computers but were both hooked up to my printer and shared the cost of ink.
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:20 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the great suggestions. I'm checking into whether the school recommend or requires a particular computer/laptop. Also, my son has friends from a year ahead who go there and he will ask about their experiences with laptop vs desktop.

The car I had not thought about, but it certainly reminds me of my use of a car when I was in college. I didn't manage to wrangle one until Jr year, which is just as well as I got into all sorts of adventures with it that would have been a problem with my studies earlier. Not that I regret it, but I would have regretted being kicked out as a result which is what likely would have happened if I had one earlier.

I do understand and try to respect his growing independence. I'm somewhat inclined to stake him to a basic meal plan, so if he's going to need to focus and study he could do that without having to worry about basic needs. As far as getting a job for extra spending money, that would be his choice. Hopefully get the freshman adjustment done before he thinks about branching out too much.

Other things to consider? New gadgets I don't associate with college since I never had one? Things to watch out for? I've heard that credit card companies do a lot of college recruiting, but I can't see having a card being all that necessary and can see it being possibly harmful.
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