We’ve covered choosing a laptop or a netbook, but what software do you need to ensure a productive university experience? Here’s some quick thoughts across the key categories.
Obviously, there may be specific software you need depending on your discipline: design students are likely to require Photoshop, statistics students will want SPSS. We’re concentrating here on the tools that pretty much anyone in tertiary study will find useful.
Word processing (and office suites)
In purely economic terms, OpenOffice is obviously the cheapest alternative, and Google Docs is another choice if you’re always connected. With that said, one big advantage of Microsoft Word is that it has first-class tools for referencing, which can save you a lot of hassle.
Students can also take advantage of the It’s Not Cheating site to purchase Office for $99.
Dropbox (or other sync tools)
While you might not have the luxury of owning multiple PCs while you’re a student, using Dropbox ensures you do have an easy automatic backup if things go wrong. A basic Dropbox account covers 2GB (and there are plenty of tricks for getting more). If you’re not in a design or technical discpline, 2GB should be more than adequate to store your work.
Whenever we mention Dropbox, it gets pointed out that rival services such as SugarSync offer similar features and more space. It’s worth looking into alternatives, but Dropbox’s dominance does tend to mean there are more integration options with other apps.
We’ve already banged on about the importance of time management. While you can manage your time with pen and paper, having an electronic calendar is a much more sensible approach: it’s easier to alter and you can sync it to multiple devices.
Given its ubiquity, Google Calendar is the obvious choice in this space, but there are other options; check our Hive Five of calendar apps for some ideas.