Should I Buy a Laptop or Desktop for College?

Your huge high school graduation party is dwindling down. With all of your friends and family members slowly heading home after a fun night of celebrations, you look to your card table. Although it takes an hour, you slowly read each person’s personalized congratulatory words and future wishes. You may now have a good chunk of money in your hands. Many high school graduates find this is the perfect opportunity to pay for their computer for college.

Now begins the hunt to find the perfect computer with enough hard drive space and features to get you through your four years of undergraduate work. Some students decide to purchase a desktop for inside their dorm room. However, as most college students will tell you, having a laptop is the best way to go.

If you purchase a desktop, you must realize that it is stationary. You will carry it into your dorm, and it will sit on your desk in the corner for the next nine months. If the elevator happens to be broken down on move in day (which happens often with hundreds of students overusing it) prepare to lug a desktop up several flights of stairs.

With a laptop, you have the option to take it with you anywhere you want. This works out great in a class where you must take endless pages of notes. Just find a seat near an electrical outlet and type away, saving yourself from hand cramps. However, be warned. Although your laptop is up and able to surf the internet, refrain from doing this (yes, it’s tempting). While you are busy checking out your crush’s relationship status on Facebook, you may miss important clues to what will be on the mid-term exam. Also, if the professor catches it, you can guarantee to be lectured to  and embarrassed in front of your classmates. Just save the personal internet sessions for after class.

When you go home for the weekend, any material that you need on the desktop must be transferred to a flash drive. You don’t have the luxury of easily transporting it from place to place. However, with a laptop, you can rest assured that it is small and can easily be taken from the dormitory to home. It will hold all the information and assignments that you need to work on over the weekend. You don’t need to worry about forgetting a necessary file on the desktop in your dorm room.

With the stationary desktop, you must also take your own comfort into account. Because it is going to be sitting atop your desk, you will have to be sitting on your computer chair. Most college dorm rooms don’t have enough space for a large, comfortable chair. Rather, you will be seated in the hard, wooden chair that matches your desk, or the $20 chair on wheels you bought at Target. Since most of your assignments will require hours of online research, along with hours of typing up papers, you can plan on being in that chair a lot.

With a laptop, you have the versatility to take it to wherever you are most comfortable. If your roommate is distracting, you can simply pick up your laptop and leave. You can find a comfortable couch in the college’s café or coffee shop. However, most students’ favorite place to lay with their computer is in their bed. They can sit or lay down, feel comfortable, and begin hours of studying.

As you make the choice between a desktop and a laptop, ultimately, you should weigh your own personal pros and cons. Perhaps, you are the type of person that likes the idea of sitting at a desk for hours. Perhaps you don’t feel the need to have your technology with you at any given time. As you deliberate your options, think of the flexibility and options that a laptop can give a college student. For many, it is the only way to go.

Also, after you begin exploring your new purchase, don’t forget to write those thank you notes. Let all your family know about the exciting piece of technology that will enable you to succeed over the next four years.


  1. devry columbus says:

    Although the desktop is a little cheaper it’s best to have a laptop unless you really need a super high powered device. Laptops are great with groupworks, research papers and what have you. You can also lie on the bed or wherever if you have one.

  2. south university says:

    I choose laptops over desktop anytime. It is more convenient and in this day of mobility and travel. You can connect to the internet at any shops with a wifi hotpsot.

  3. I’m a laptop person, handsdown. You can’t bring your desktop with you, which comes in handy in group study sessions. I bring mine to long lecture classes to type my notes. Saves a load of time when the test’s study guide is given. You’ve it all though!

    I’m spilling my personal college life lessons at

  4. Oh yes…laptops are great…very portable…the problem is…that it’s very portable…you can take it anywhere…except to the bathroom…to parties…a whole bunch of places then what?…well your laptop is susceptible to being stolen…very easy for people to work in teams to distract you…it only takes a minute for someone to stick your very portable “take it anywhere”-including away from you-in their backpack.
    Case in point, my cousin just got his stolen the 1st day of college (actually it was before the 1st day of classes).
    Oh no…”it won’t happen to me as I’m going to keep my laptop in my sights every minute of every day”…hmm ok that’s 4 years x 365 days x 60 minutes in a day…so that’s only 512, 640 minutes (a good deal will be with you eyes closed sleeping”…and it only takes 1 of those 512,640 minutes for someone to take your precious laptop away…
    I’ve never seen anyone be able to stuff a tower computer in their backpack…do yourself a favor.
    Go ahead get your laptop…just don’t cry when it gets stolen as it will be your own fault.

  5. Get a desktop and a netbook. The cost would be about the same as an equivalent laptop. This will allow you to have a redundant system; if one goes down you still have the other. Netbooks are pretty inexpensive but they’re powerful enough to run most any application, except for games and 3d graphics. Certainly powerful enough to do photo editing, presentations, slide shows, movies, spread sheets, and notes. Oh, and get a backup hard drive. I have all my stuff duplicated between my netbook and my desktop. Plus I do a complete systems backup monthly, but I use Linux (dd and rsync). It would work the same on OS X, but I’m not sure what Windows people have to do.

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