What it’s like being a student without a laptop
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
Buying yourself a personal laptop is part of the university experience: You get a laptop, a solid school bag into which that laptop will go (most likely one of those ubiquitous Hershel Little America backpacks), and perhaps a few articles of clothing that are both trendy and comfortable. I eagerly bought my own HP computer the summer before my first semester. A few years and many essays later, I had become accustomed to my university career and its dependence on that one piece of technology. Unfortunately for me my little laptop came into tragic contact with the floor last fall, and it’s been a learning curve adjusting to my now very low-tech study methods.
There are many reasons why I haven’t purchased a replacement. I no longer live at home so rent and bills have to take precedence. Yes, I could finance a new one, but after getting myself into a bit of trouble with credit card debt in the early years of my “independent” adulthood, I’ve made a point of only buying big ticket items with money I actually have. Second to this is probably a bit of stubbornness. I’ve always been more of a pen-and-paper kind of person when it comes to note taking, anyway.
First thing I had to reconcile was that despite my stubbornness, laptops are the assumed standard. Every course I have ever taken has required, in some way or another, regular access to a computer—whether that be participating in online discussions, researching scholarly journals, or accessing lecture notes. I can’t just abandon those requirements because I’ve decided to go to school the old-fashioned way. I’m still expected to complete them. This also meant accepting life was about to get a lot more difficult. I have a smartphone, but there’s only so much a smartphone can do compared to a full-sized computer.
I now spend a significant portion of my free time outside of class at the library. Where previously I could just complete work from the comfort of my apartment without time constraints, I am now always conscious of preparing the documents I’ll need for the coming week because, 1) once the library closes, that’s it for me, and 2) if I have physical copies, I’m still able to complete readings even without any electronic access. I do find, however, that my eyes get drowsy after reading too much, so to save myself from falling asleep on the couch in my notes, I also spend a lot of time at 24-hour coffee shops.
I’ll eventually get a laptop, but seeing as this is my last semester, it looks like that won’t happen until I’ve finished all my final research papers.
While this life style definitely wouldn’t work for most, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a student over the past year. I’ve finally learned the time management skills I had failed to acquire over my years spent in university. I’ve also learned that having the most advanced piece of technology doesn’t determine the quality of the educational experience.