Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

What Computer Should Be Sent off to College?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

What Computer Should Be Sent off to College?

Article excerpt

This week's mail brought a question from a reader whose granddaughter will be graduating from high school in a couple of months.

He wants to buy her a present to take away to college and thinks a computer would be a good idea. But he wants to know what kind - IBM-compatible or Macintosh? He's also worried about crowded dorm rooms and wants to know which is better, a laptop or desktop model?

They're good questions. To find the answers, you'll need to do a bit of research - or have your favorite graduate-to-be do it for you.

First things first. Many colleges have dorm rooms wired into campus networks that give students and faculty access to college mainframes from their desktop PCs.

Electronic mail is now a favorite form of campus communication, and some parents with access to the Internet (or even an account on a commercial on-line service such as Compuserve, Prodigy or America Online) find it cheap and convenient to keep in touch with their offspring electronically.

At some schools, students can submit research papers to their teachers electronically over the campus network, or hand the professor a disk.

Computer-friendly academics believe this kind of interaction reinforces the collegial nature of scholarship by making it easy for professors to make comments on works in progress and for students to make revisions.

Which computer is best for your student often depends on the school's particular computer "culture."

Apple, which has long-standing relationships with educational institutions, made deals with many colleges early on, and the predominant culture at these institutions is Macintosh. If most students and faculty use Macs and the college has a network set up to support them, then a Mac is a wise decision.

Other schools may have IBM cultures, while still others welcome all comers. Even within a college, departments may have their favorites.

For example, English professors may like to exchange Mac documents written in Microsoft Word, while business administration departments may prefer IBM-compatibles running Lotus 1-2-3, long the standard tool of the corporate world.

Because most of a student's work involves research papers and reports, the choice of word-processing software is important. …

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