Should You Get an IPad for College?

There are many reasons that an iPad would appear on a student's back to school wish list. But is an iPad really the best choice, or could students be better off sticking with a laptop or desktop computer?

ipad

The Pros

When you look at all of the features of an iPad, it's pretty easy to see why you'd want one. First of all, its slim size and light weight make it easy to carry around no matter how many textbooks you have to put in your backpack. It also has a battery life of up to ten hours, so even on long days away from home you'd still be able to use your iPad without having to worry about charging it.

There's also a lot you can do on an iPad, including check your e-mail, surf the Web, download books to read, watch videos, listen to music or play games. During your breaks in between classes, you could check your e-mail or even do a little online research for a paper you're working on.

Of course one concern iPad owners might have is misplacing it, since its light weight could make it hard to notice that it isn't in your bag. Once the 'Find My iPad' feature is activated, users can go to a site on any Web browser that will show them a map with the location of their iPad, or they can send a message that will display on the iPad screen so if someone finds it they know who to call. That can certainly provide some good peace of mind.

The Cons

Probably one of the biggest cons about having an iPad with you is that it could be a huge distraction throughout the school day. It might be all too tempting to pull it out during class and start fooling around since, particularly in large classrooms, professors might not notice it as much as they would a laptop. Sometimes it's hard enough to fight the urge to play games or goof around on your computer when you're at home, and you don't need the added distraction when you should be paying attention in class.

Another reason you might want to consider a laptop or desktop over an iPad is because a regular computer might lend itself better to typing papers and doing homework assignments. Although word processing programs are available for iPad, do you really want to type a lengthy paper using a touch screen?

When using the computer for longer periods of time, you might want to have a regular keyboard that's separate from the monitor. It can just be easier to see when you have a propped up monitor and a view that's not being partially blocked by a touchscreen keyboard. (However, if you really are set on the iPad and don't mind buying some extra accessories, you can purchase a dock and a wireless keyboard so that it will feel more like a laptop or desk top.)

So How Do I Choose?

One of the big things you need to think about to help with your decision is what exactly you need the iPad or computer for. If the main use is going to be for writing papers and doing homework assignments, you could be better off with a laptop or desktop. It will be easy to write with and might not be as distracting. However, if you have a major that won't require as much paper writing and you're looking more to have something to check e-mail on or go visit websites, an iPad could be the right choice.

Consider where you're going to be possibly using the iPad. If you're someone who's going to constantly be on the go and needs something to take with you to help you stay connected, an iPad would probably be the best option. However, if you're pretty much only going to use the computer at home, a laptop or desktop would be sufficient.

You also should think about if you're self-disciplined enough to ignore the temptations to play with the iPad instead of using it for your schoolwork. You don't want all the fun features to get in the way of getting your coursework done.

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