Stores across the country are starting to roll out their back-to-school inventories, signaling the end of summer is near. If you or someone you know is getting ready to head off to college, here are some gadgets you may want to add to your shopping list:
- Laptop Lock: Between storing assignments, class notes, and group projects, a laptop is the lifeblood of most college students. Consequently, having your laptop stolen is a college student’s worst nightmare. To help prevent potential theft and save yourself from a moment of panic, consider purchasing a laptop lock. This way, you won’t have to worry about leaving your computer unattended for a few minutes while you use the restroom or grab a snack from the vending machine. My recommendation would be the Kensington cable combination lock, which features a keyless, 4-digit combination design and cut resistant cable.
- External Hard Drive/Cloud Storage: While computer crashes are fairly uncommon, they always seem to happen at the worst possible time, like just before a major exam or project is due. Having an external hard drive or cloud storage is a great way to back up your essays, projects, and other important information so you won’t have to stress about trying to recover your files in the event of a crash.
- USB Flash Drive: As a college student, the one item that I ALWAYS carry in my backpack is my USB flash drive. Not only is it small and lightweight, it also allows me to seamlessly transition between working on a project at the library, in a computer lab, or on my laptop. The best part is that you can find a reliable USB flash drive with 64GB of storage (which is plenty of space for the average user) for around $20.
- Printer: Even though most college campuses have printers in the library or other campus buildings, they may not always be convenient to access—especially on larger campuses. Not to mention, the cost to print can add up quickly. For less than a hundred dollars, you can buy a reliable printer for your dorm room or apartment that can save you precious time and money. While you can technically make it through college without your own printer, it might be worth the investment if you don’t want to be running to the library at 3am to print off a report. For tips about how to select the best printer for your needs, click here.
- Power strips (preferably with surge protector): While a power strip may not be the most exciting item on this list, it’s definitely one of the most important. There will likely be a shortage of power outlets in your dorm, especially if the building is older. On move-in day, come prepared with a good power strip—preferably one with a surge protector so you don’t fry your electronic devices or risk starting a fire. They come in a number of different styles, shapes, and sizes, so there’s bound to be something that fits your needs.
- Wi-Fi Router: Most colleges have Wi-Fi Internet access in the dorms and around campus, but the connection isn’t always great. It’s a good idea to invest in your own router so you can have access to fast, reliable internet when you need it most—especially if you plan to do a lot of studying in your dorm room.
- Portable Phone Charger: College students are always on the go, running from one class to another, so it’s not always feasible to find an outlet to charge your phone. Thankfully, there are a number of different portable chargers on the market to help you keep your phone charged throughout the day. Portable phone chargers vary widely in price depending on the device’s size, output, and charging time. If you’re just looking for something to use for emergencies, then a small portable charger will work just fine. However, if you spend a lot of time on your phone and plan to rely on your portable charger often, a larger device with more power might be a better fit.
What are your favorite tech gadgets for college students? Tell us in the comments.
Guest Blogger: August Braun
August is a Communications Intern at TDS Telecom and a journalism student at UW-Madison.