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Students | computer purchasing faq

Student Technology
Should I bring a computer to Calvin?
Do I have to own a computer?
Can I bring a computer I already own?
What kind of computer should I buy?
Will a tablet or Chromebook be sufficient?
How much should I spend?
Where should I buy a computer?
Should I purchase an extended warranty?
Can I get insurance for my computer?
Will CIT support my personal devices?
Do I need to buy any software for my computer?
Should I bring my own printer?
Should I bring my own wireless router?


Should I bring a computer to Calvin?

Although Calvin does not require that students purchase a computer, having a personal computer can be a great convenience. Technology has become an important tool in our everyday lives, and this holds true at Calvin College. As a Calvin student, you do have access to computer labs and the campus network if you prefer not to bring a computer. Many Calvin students do choose to purchase their own personal computer.

Convenience - Most of Calvin's faculty use online material to enhance their classroom teaching. Students who have a personal computer have unlimited access to these academic resources. Although Calvin does provide many computers across campus for student use, occasionally there may be greater demand for computers than the resources available.

Access - Students with personal computers can use them whenever they need, at any time of day. Calvin students have access to Calvin's high-speed Internet and network service, both wired and wireless.

Study Habits - How do you study? Some do their best work in a quiet environment while others can be productive surrounded by people. If you own a computer, you have more control over the environment you choose to study in.

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Do I have to own a computer?

No. It is your choice to bring a personal computer to Calvin. If you choose not to bring your own computer, you may instead make use of the public computers available. There are computers available in each dorm, the library, and many labs throughout academic buildings.

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Can I bring a computer I already own?

As long as your computer meets the minimum recommendations, it should provide an acceptable level of performance for basic computing. Some academic departments amd areas of study may recommend that your computer meets additional standards beyond the minimum recommendations stated, so it may be worth checking with an academic advisor to see what they recommend. If you do choose to bring an older computer, keep in mind that it may not have the power to be useful throughout your entire college career.

If your computer system does not meet or exceed the minimum recommendations, we recommend that you upgrade your current computer or purchase a new one. The Calvin Information Technology HelpDesk is not able to offer technical assistance for computers that do not meet the minimum recommendations.

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What kind of computer should I buy?

Which computer you purchase is really a matter of personal preference. Calvin supports both Mac and PC and can offer assistance with connecting your device to the Calvin student networks. Some good brands of computers to look for are Dell, Apple, HP, Lenovo, or Asus.

If you don't have a personal preference, consider asking an academic advisor in the area of study you are interested in to see if their department has specific recommendations for students.

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Will a tablet or Chromebook be sufficient?

Some students do choose to use a tablet or Chromebook computer as a primary note-taking device in class, but keep in mind these devices may not be the most ideal for writing large papers or working on big projects. Since tablets and devices like Chromebooks do not run a full operating system like Windows or macOS, you may miss out on helpful or necessary software which is not available or as full-featured on mobile devices.

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How much should I spend?

If you decide to purchase a laptop, take note of how well the laptop is constructed. Laptops with plastic cases may be less expensive, but an indication of a plastic case may also be an indication of lower quality internal components. As a general rule, we recommend spending more than $600 for a laptop, regardless of brand and model. Most laptops above the $600 price point will be made of higher quality materials, be more durable, and last longer.

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Where should I buy a computer?

You can purchase your computer in a retail store or via the Internet. If you do choose to purchase a computer online, it may be a good idea to visit a retail store in person so you can see and test your desired models in person. If you buy a computer through a major manufacturer or national retailer, it may make getting repairs or upgrades much easier.

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Should I purchase an extended warranty?

You should consider purchasing an extended warranty, or at very least an accidental protection plan. Most new computers include some type of limited warranty, but they may not cover accidental damage. If you plan to be carrying around your laptop a lot, it may be worth the extra cost to ensure if your laptop is dropped or spilled on that you will not have to purchase another new computer.

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Can I get insurance for my computer?

Not only can you, but you should look in to the possibility of insuring your computer be including a rider on your parent's homeowners insurance policy. This may cover accidental damage such as liquid spilling on your laptop or the computer being dropped/broken that normal computer warranties do not cover.

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Will CIT support my personal computer?

The CIT HelpDesk provides support for connecting and registering personally-owned computers on the wired and wireless networks.

We also offer limited computer diagnostic services. Bring your computer down to the HelpDesk if you are having any trouble with your computer. We will try our best to fix your computer, but if it involves failing hardware or operating system reinstallation, we offer recommendations of nearby service shops to assist you.

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Do I need to buy any software for my computer?

You may want to consider purchasing or downloading antivirus software for your computer. All Calvin students have access to download Microsoft Office as part of Office 365, so you will not need to purchase any Office productivity software.

CIT is unable to provide or install any software on personal computers, but there may be software available to your through your area of study.

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