Colleges provide tech offerings to students
by Michelle Filippini | May 7, 2013
Savvy students entering college these days know that arriving prepared can go a long way toward helping ensure a higher-ed experience is a successful one − or at least that it may be the launching for a good start. One essential component of that student survival toolkit may be a laptop, something no college student should be without. But what about those students for whom simply attending college represents the culmination of both their and their families' highest hopes, for whom a laptop represents a nonessential luxury? Are those obviously bright, motivated students looking at failure because they can't afford the necessary technological school supplies? The following colleges are working to ensure that if students end up making an early departure, it isn't because they didn't have the proper supplies.
10 Colleges with Laptop Programs
Long Island University: As of the 2012-13 academic year, the school's student iPad program will provide all eligible new undergraduate students enrolled in 12 credits or more a free Apple iPad within their first semester. New part-time undergraduate students (6-11 credits), as well as new graduate students taking at least 6 credits, can purchase an iPad at the reduced rate of $250. The school initiated the program, according to its website, to ensure that students will develop the relevant technological skills by being able to "access their MyLIU account, create real-time learning environments, stay in touch with faculty, advisers and classmates, research topics at any time, and engage in blended and fully online courses."
Northern Michigan University: Since fall 2000, through its TLC Laptop Initiative, NMU has been supplying all full-time undergraduate and graduate students (enrolled in 12 or more credit hours) with a general purpose laptop computer on a three-year replacement cycle. TLC participants receive either a ThinkPad or a MacBook (for art and design majors, who pay a fee of $250 per semester to cover the MacBook's higher costs). According to the university's website, more than 9,000 students, faculty and staff are participating in the school's TCL (Teaching, Learning, and Communication) initiative. The school also provides "specialty labs" designed to meet the equipment and software needs of specific academic programs (e.g., graphic design, computer science, GIS, CAD, among others).
Northwest Missouri State University: Not only does the school provide full-time undergraduate students (taking 12 or more credits) and graduate students (at least 9 credits) the use of a laptop while enrolled at Northwest, the laptops come fully loaded with all the software students will likely need in order to complete assignments, including Microsoft Office. In addition, the university offers a textbook "rental" program through which students pay a per-credit hour fee to use the textbooks, which they then return on the last day of finals of the trimester. According to the school's website, Northwest students save an average of almost $5,000 over a 4-year period, or $1,168 each year, compared with students attending other universities.
Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine: Because "instructional technology is considered essential in the education process," students in the university's School of Medicine will all receive a 13-inch MacBook Pro -- with a 4-year warranty! -- for use throughout their academic career. The computers will be used, according to the school website, for virtual microscopy, for gathering evidence during small-group learning exercises, and for accessing the online learning system Moodle. Upon graduation, students have the option to purchase the laptop at minimal cost.
Seton Hill University: This liberal arts institution may be small (2,600 students), but it has big ideas: It's been giving its faculty and all full-time students iPads since 2010 − in addition to the 13 inch MacBook Pro they dole out to all incoming students at freshman orientation, of course. After two years, the university replaces the laptop with a new one that students can take with them after graduation (current sophomores, juniors and seniors can opt into the program as well). The iPad distribution served as the inauguration of the school's Griffin Technology Advantage program, which also included the implementation of a fully wireless campus, quadrupled bandwidth, and faculty training in advanced technologies. While students do pay additional fees for the tech program, the university says it has absorbed the cost of the iPads.
Southern Nazarene University: At Southern Nazarene University, all full-time undergraduate students receive a laptop during its New Student Institute. And, as the school points out, the laptop is not a rental, and students don't pay any additional fees to receive it. Student testimonials on the university's website attest to the significance of an institution providing laptops for students in school: One student writes: "The laptop program was one of my deciding factors in coming to SNU." Teachers seem pleased as well: Dennis Williams, director of general education, stated: "Knowing that every student has a laptop has created opportunities to redesign what can happen in class."
St. Johns University: Of its laptop program, the school's website touts, "Computers land in every freshman and transfer student lap at St. John's." Specifically, all full-time freshman and transfer students receive a wireless laptop to use for the duration of their college career at St. John's. The program dates back to fall 2003 and was expanded a year later to include transfer and readmitted students in addition to full-time freshmen. The objective of the ahead-of-its-time program was to provide all students with equal access to technology, as well as to provide the school's faculty with a mobile computer option.
University of Maryland: The University's Mobility Initiative began in fall 2008 as a pilot program examining "the role that mobile Internet access devices might have in the future of instruction, learning, and the social growth of students on campus," as stated on the school's website. Here's how it works: Each year, freshmen in the Banneker/Key Scholarship and Maryland Incentive Awards programs are provided an iPod touch free of charge or, for additional fees and costs, an iPhone 4 to test both inside and outside of class. Beginning in fall 2010, students enrolled in the Digital Cultures and Creativity Program participated in the initiative using iPads. Requirements for participation in the program include taking part in a small number of pilot group meetings during the fall semester for students to share feedback, as well as the potential for focus group interviews and/or the opportunity to work on projects in order to develop tools and applications for the devices.
University of Minnesota − Rochester: The university implemented the UMR Laptop Program for undergraduate students in the health sciences and health professions programs. The laptops - Lenovo T430 ThinkPads - are distributed to these students upon entering the program at orientation and come preloaded with the necessary software for students in the program. The laptops also complement the UMR curriculum management system (iSEAL), the school's online initiative that makes readings, quizzes, exams, student papers, faculty notes, podcasts, videos and other relevant information readily available to students. Every two years, the UMR IT department issues a new, upgraded laptop, and students have the option at graduation to either turn it back in or purchase it at a discounted fee.
West Liberty University: All first-time, full-time freshmen registered for 12 or more credit hours are eligible for West Liberty University's Laptop Program ( the program is mandatory for business majors). In addition to providing students with a Windows-based notebook with a 14-inch or larger screen, the program offers two options: Students enrolling in communications and graphic design (which includes the digital media design major) receive the Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection software and must have either an Apple or Windows-based computer that meets the software's requirements, and students entering the art education, music education, or music performance programs will be issued an iPad 2. The university initially owns the computer hardware, but students who remain continuous and full-time will own the hardware after their first academic year.
“TLC General Information,” it.nmu.edu, 2013. http://it.nmu.edu/node/196
“Why You Get a Laptop,” shu.edu, 2013. http://www.shu.edu/campus-life/laptop-program.cfm
“Seton Hill to Offer iPads to Full-Time Students,” chronicle.com, 30 March 2010, Jill Laster. http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/seton-hill-to-offer-ipads-to-full-time-students/22153
About the Author
Michelle Filippini is an editor and writer based out of Lake Tahoe, Nevada. She received her B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing and enjoys writing nonfiction as well as on issues in the educational realm.