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by Dave Berry

Are iPads Worth It for College?

The Back-to-School ads are fattening newspapers these days, even though it’s still July. My favorite TV B-to-S commercial has always been the one from Staples, I think, that shows a parent blissfully guiding a shopping cart through the store, shopping for school supplies, while two sullen, depressive-looking returning students plod glumly behind. Andy Williams’ familiar singing voice provides the music track, intoning, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” For parents, that is. Love that commercial.

Anyway, you about-to-be college students (or returning college students) — and parents — are no doubt thinking about what kinds of things will be needed for the upcoming school year. Of course, technology items rank high on the list. How did we (those of us who went to college when dinosaurs roamed the earth) ever survive without our touch screens, smart phones, and social media? Consequently, this year’s crop of students may be considering such luxuries as an iPad, which is being seen almost everywhere in those print and TV ads.

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to invest in an iPad for school-related work (or any other tasks, for that matter), perhaps a recent article might give you some counterpoints about investing in one. I usually take the affirmative, positive approach to topics here in my blog, but this writer makes a logical “why not” case for saving your cash. Here are five of his 10 reasons “why not.”

10 Reasons Not to Buy an iPad for Students

by Jeff Somogyi, media editor, dealnews.com

- It’s Expensive. The iPad, at its most basic configuration of 16GB of storage with Wi-Fi connectivity, starts at $499. Then, the higher-end models that include 64GB of storage and 3G connectivity will run you $829, with additional per-month rates for wireless plans …

- It’s Not the Best Solution for Note-Taking or Editing Documents. A virtual keyboard, like the one that pops up on the iPad, doesn’t have any tactile feedback. That’s fine for a quick text on your smartphone, but the iPad’s keyboard is a bit awkward. Further, if you do manage to struggle your way through writing an entire term paper on the tablet, editing is another headache completely …

- It’s Meant for the Enjoyment of One Person, Which Means Social Seclusion. You want your children to grow up to be personable, extroverted, well-functioning members of polite society, right? So why would you give them a personal entertainment device that all-but-guarantees they can spend every moment of their free time with their nose pointed at a tiny screen, drowning out the revelry, comradery and general good-times that are taking place around them? …

- They’ll Also Want a Laptop, Too. Yes. You heard that right. If you buy an iPad for your kid thinking, “Well, that’s that,” think again! Since there are situations in which a tablet just doesn’t cut it (see above), your child will come to realize that they need a full-fledged desktop or laptop for school, too …

- [And this is my favorite reason.] It’ll Already be Old Technology by the Time You Buy It. Apple is very consistent with its release schedule of their devices. Updates come along like clockwork, and our guess is that the iPad is not going to stray from this tried-and-true model. Specifically, the new version of the tablet is surely going to come out sometime in March or April.

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Jeff lists five other reasons, so read up. For more insights and opinions, check this discussion forum thread on College Confidential.

I’m certainly not anti-iPad, but with family budgets being as tight as they are these days, I think it’s wise to ponder a bit before plunking down for one of the many fancy gadgets out there that call to your wallet from afar. Maybe it really isn’t the most wonderful time of the year. Who knows?

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Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.

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