3 Rules for Buying Your Teen a Laptop for College

computer collegeGone are the days of hours spent in the computer lab, hoping the printer doesn't run out of ink before it's time to produce your term paper. Today's college students are practically required to own their own laptop, and in some cases, colleges give out very strict instructions to new students about the specs of the laptop. And yes, some do require your kid to show up to the first day of class with a laptop in hand.

Before you max out your credit card on a machine for your 18-year-old, take a look at these three rules for buying a laptop for a college student. You might just save some cash, as you're shelling it out for the next four years.

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1. Don't Go Cheap

You want this laptop to last at least four years (in some cases more), so don't grab the bargain laptop. And definitely don't just get your kid an iPad, she needs something much more substantial. The good news is many colleges have partnered with computer companies to offer really significant discounts on laptops. Before you buy, contact your school to get the inside scoop on laptops, as well as any software requirements the school might have. Additionally, some places allow financial aid to consider the laptop cost as a factor, and financing the laptop over four years is also an option.

2. Do Spring for the Warranty

While you usually want to avoid money traps like an extended warranty, consider that many laptops at college campuses will be exposed to coffee, beer, and lots of late night snacks. But even more so than the "oops, I spilled my beer bong on my keyboard" problem is the theft issue. Communal living means far more chances for laptops to walk away from owners. Check to see if your homeowners' insurance covers your college student in the event of laptop damage and theft before opting for the extra coverage.

3. Have a Backup

Sure you can load up your child with flash drives and beg them to back up their work, but teenagers and 20-somethings don't only think they are invincible, they think their stuff is too. So do provide your child with an extra hard drive and/or all the drives he can handle, but also look into Google Chrome cloud file storage and other services for your kid's work. And teach them how to use it -- every single day.

Are you buying your college-bound student a laptop?

 

Image via Sadie Hernandez/Flickr

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