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Thomas' Tech Tales

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The essentials for college

While I might not be as qualified as a lot of people out there, I feel that since I have now taken two midterms I can say I’m a legit college student. Therefore, I feel that I am able to give some sort of advice pertaining to the college lifestyle, even though I have only been in college a short six weeks.

There is a lot to deal with when leaving for college; one of the biggest items, for me anyway, was living alone in a dorm room with a roommate I have never met. I am not focusing on dealing with an ornery roommate, instead I’ll focus on some gadgets that help a student get by in this new environment. Sure, you could go online and find one of the countless articles with the title "Top Ten _______ for a College Dorm" but I feel that this may hit closer to home since I’m going through this right now. This is supposed to be a tech column so I’ll keep the focus on some gadgets and "necessities."

First of all, you’ll definitely want something to play your music with, personally and out loud. Of course, iPods are the most popular gadgets, but you can find many other MP3 players out there for a cheaper price. Many companies are making docking stations now; you can plug your iPod into it to charge, but it will also play music through speakers from your iPod. Many of these docking stations also perform other functions such as alarm clock and radio, and some unique ones even dance.

I personally don’t have an iPod or station, so I use my laptop to play my music from via iTunes. A laptop or desktop is pretty much a must-need for college students, with laptops being a favorite due to the fact that they can easily be carried around and used in classes. If you want to look really cool you can even put on a scarf and take it to Starbucks. As of now I don’t really carry my laptop around with me; it sits on my desk most of the time. That’s not to say I don’t use it, I’m on it right now to type this article out and listen to some Flogging Molly. The big issue with laptops is usually price, but you can find a perfectly decent one as low as $500.

Entertainment-wise, a laptop can usually be used to watch movies on, but if you want to bring some friends over to play Halo or that cute girl across the hall to watch a movie, then a TV is a must. As college goes, the flatter the TV is, the cooler it is. Size isn’t too much of an issue as dorm rooms are relatively small. I just got a 22-inch and anywhere around that size works out great. A couple guys have some 40-inch plus screens and those just fill up the room and are unnecessary.

If your dorm has cable then you’re set; if not, then you’ll definitely want to get a DVD player or game consol. My Xbox 360 can play DVDs so I’m set with movies and gaming. Parents might worry that having an Xbox or something will make their kids hole up in their room, but it actually helps to bring a lot of kids into the room. It gets pretty intense with four guys sitting in a dorm room playing Halo 3 while system linking with the room across the hallway; after we’re done with our group study session of course. It really helps to relieve that midterm stress when you log onto Live and zone out with the game of your choice.

Now I haven’t touched on microwaves and the likes and I’m not going to. If you think you might need that stuff then go for it; if not, then don’t worry about it. A lot of the little stuff is slightly redundant too—if you have a cell phone (texting is a necessity if you want to be in the loop) then use that as your alarm clock and day planner. Surge protectors are very important so you don’t fry your new equipment and Ethernet cords are a must as sometimes the wireless connection is faulty in the dorms. Plus, an Ethernet connection is much more reliable/faster if you’re going to be using your Internet for anything like online gaming.

A flash drive is also a must, then you don’t need to buy a printer since you can just go to the library. One last tip is to replace that MySpace account with a Facebook account; barely anyone I’ve met here uses MySpace and you hear about a lot of stuff (parties!) happening on campus through Facebook.

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Author info

Thomas McMahon Thomas McMahon is a student at Albertson's College of Idaho who, when he's not playing some geeky video game or designing some new, award-winning engineering project, plays basketball and tennis. His study interest is engineering.

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