What the Tech? Back to College Gadgets That Students May Need
TV, check. Noise-canceling headphones? Check. Fridge, microwave, coffee maker? Check, check and check. Those items may be at the top of anyone’s back-to-school shopping list for students headed to college.
Those gadgets give students some of the comfort and convenience of home in their dorm room or apartment. There are a few other tech gadgets that may not be at the top of your mind but are also necessary for this time of a connected culture.
Here are a few consumer tech gadgets you might not think about when packing up your son or daughter’s car as they head to campus:
A WiFi router. Most all colleges and universities provide students campus-wide internet and maybe WiFi. Dorm rooms are often equipped with an internet connection through an ethernet port to connect laptops and a WiFi connection for phones and tablets.
You might check to see if the school allows students to bring their own WiFi router. On a campus-wide internet network, hundreds of students will be connected at any given time. No matter what security system and software the school have in place to keep students’ online work private it could always be better.
A WiFi router can connect to that ethernet input and provide the same signal to a computer, TV, gaming system, smartphone and tablet wirelessly. Students can also add a password to keep other students from connecting to their WiFi network. Not all schools allow for personal WiFi routers but some do.
If the campus internet network is too slow (think of all the students accessing the network at any given time) because of heavy use of online gaming, video streaming, etc, you may want to spend the money on your own internet connection. If you do go this route, check the agreement to see if you’ll be paying for a router or modem rental. Purchasing your own modem will save
money in the long run.
Students using a public or campus-wide internet network will also benefit from having a Virtual Private Network or VPN app on their devices. This protects the student’s privacy online whether it’s through their laptop or phone. I strongly suggest a VPN to anyone using free or public WiFi whether that’s on-campus or in a coffee shop.
Express VPN is one of the top virtual private network apps on the market today and gets high marks from security experts. NordVPN, ProtonVPN, Surfshark, and IPVanish are other top-rated services. There are free VPNs in both Apple and Google App Stores but free VPN apps do not offer the same protection and privacy as the paid subscriptions which cost around $6-$12 a month.
Some professors still require papers to be turned in on paper. Rather than rushing across campus to the school library or to a local printing shop, a small compact wireless printer allows students to print their work in their dorm or apartment.
Printers connect to a student’s laptop, phone or tablet wirelessly and some will even print papers from across campus. They’re not as expensive as they used to be either.
“It’s usually between $100 and $150” says Best Buy’s Terrance Cole. “Every printer these days is wireless. I don’t think you’ll find one that isn’t,” he said.
Of course, before you spend money on any of these gadgets check with the school’s website to make sure they are permitted in the dorm rooms.