Deciding to go to school online, like with St. Kate’s online OTA program, means that you need a good computer. So what is the best computer for taking online classes? You may be asking yourself the following: Do I purchase a PC or Mac? A laptop or desktop? An iPad or other tablet? How much money do I want to spend?
There are an astounding amount of questions that fly through your head when you begin thinking about going to an online school or going back to school with an online format. Here are a few things to consider when purchasing a computer for online learning with St. Kate’s:
1. Knowledge of the school you will be attending and the classes you will be enrolled in
Knowing the school and classes plays an integral role when choosing a computer. Find out the minimum computer requirements from your school from your admissions advisor or by checking out our online OTA program computer requirements on our websites. Create a list to provide the retailer when you are purchasing your computer. Find out which functions and features you will need to be successful.
For example, you might need Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 for a PC, and Mac OS X 10.6 or higher for a Mac. A laptop computer might be strongly recommended, the school’s learning management system might not be compatible with any tablet or mobile browser or maybe hotspots should not be used as your primary internet connection. This is vital information that you must know so you don’t purchase a $600 iPad that you won’t be able to use. Ouch!
2. The size of the computer
What size computer screen do I need? If your computer is going to be at home on a desk for an extended period of time, a 17” would be a wise choice. If you are traveling and on the go most of the day, a smaller, 13” to 15” would be light and manageable. If the majority of your computer use is for email and social media, a 13” to 15” would be fine. If you are working on spreadsheets, term papers or some aspect of design, a 17” or larger screen would give you a more desirable workspace, not to mention be easier on your eyes.
3. Battery life of the computer
The battery life of the computer is an important aspect when making a purchase decision. Battery life can either send you over the edge with frustration or easily fulfill the job you are doing. If you are someone who travels the majority of the time or are away from home often when using your computer, you may want to consider buying a computer with a longer battery life.
However, if you are at home most of the time you are using your computer, you have unlimited access to outlets and won’t have to worry about losing battery power. If you have ever experienced your battery dying in the middle of an exam, you will take battery life very seriously.
4. Processor speed and storage
The processor is basically the computer’s brain. It determines how many programs you are able to run and how much data you can store. How much storage you need depends on what you are going to use your computer for. If you are using your computer for a little word processing and some web surfing, one to two gigabytes of memory will suffice. If you are an avid gamer or run a business, four to eight gigabytes is what you will probably need. Be sure to inform the salesperson of what you will be using the computer for online learning and he or she can help you determine what’s best for you.
5. PC or Mac?
The million dollar question: Should I purchase a PC or Mac? There are pros and cons with each type of computer. You can spend hours reading about the positives and negatives of each. When you try to ask someone’s opinion, they give you there utmost infallible opinion about what they use and trash talk the other. How are you supposed to get an honest opinion? To come to the right conclusion, you have to examine your needs and what each option has to offer.
PC discount prices are the main reason that PC still dominates the desktop and laptop markets. When it comes to updating and performance, a PC is fairly inexpensive. You can purchase a PC at Best Buy for less than $350 (although that may mean less memory and shorter battery life.) You will be hard pressed to find a Mac for anywhere near $350, but Macs will typically always have faster processing speed and more memory.
Many Mac consumers are attracted to the style and innovative design. Apple has a new technology called Boot Camp that allows you to run Microsoft Windows on Intel-based Macs. Now you can have the best of both worlds with Microsoft and a stylish-looking computer. PCs have a wider range of software while Macs have a secure, tightly-controlled operating system. The Mac outshines PC in multimedia applications. If your life revolves around multimedia, you want to purchase a Mac. But, if gaming is your forte, there are more options with a PC.
If you want a user-friendly, stable, sleek-looking computer that’s less susceptible to security breaches, then Mac is the distinguished choice. If you are watching your pocketbook and an avid gamer, then PC is the choice for you. Whatever decision you make, be sure you do your research.
If you have any questions about how to find the best computer for taking online classes, contact an admissions advisor for St. Kate’s online OTA program.