June 22: Find a computer that fits your needs

Whether it’s writing papers, taking notes for class, chatting with friends or just wasting time on the World Wide Web — it goes without saying that a computer is the most important school supply you will need to bring. It just so happens to be the most expensive one as well, potentially making the process of finding a computer tedious. It becomes even more difficult when you don’t know what kind to buy.

Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services, or CITES, is the provider of campus-wide technology support services at the University. The service has a Web site set up to aid students in finding a computer that will be compatible with the systems set up through campus and one specifically for new students (www.cites.uiuc.edu/newtocampus). The site has information on everything: From what kind of software your computer should run to recommendations on memory size, operating systems, wireless cards and even monitors.

Finding a computer to fit these requirements and the needs of a college student isn’t difficult or expensive.

“Freshman shouldn’t think they need to buy a top of the line performance computer if they just need it for classes,” said Andrew Stuko, a CITES help desk consultant. “You can find a computer between $800 and $1000 that will be good enough for their college experience.”

Stuko recommends getting free anti-virus/anti-spyware programs through the University and saving money on that.

Different majors may have different requirements for the types of programs they recommend their students have available. Stuko said a computer science major, for example, may need a few programs that a business major wouldn’t. Different departments sometimes post any additional requirements they have on the CITES Web site.

Deciding between a laptop or desktop and a Mac or PC is really based on the preference of the student. Take some time to weigh the pros and cons of both and then decide on a computer that best fits your needs. The University is compatible with both PCs and Macs as long as you have an operating system as recent as Windows XP or Mac OS X. And choosing a laptop or a desktop should really depend on your major and personal preference.

Just make sure when you get here, the computer that fits your needs also fits the University’s compatibility.