Essential Computing Tools for Community College Students

by Chad Agrawal

College ComputerCommunity college no longer has the negative stigma that once surrounded it. Today's community colleges attract the highest caliber professors, and students utilize the flexibility and affordability of these programs to achieve goals that otherwise would have been impossible. Community college can act as the first step in an extensive secondary education, with two-year programs leading to a bachelor's program at another university, and then on to master's and even PhD programs at top ranked graduate schools. Otherwise, a two-year associate's degree achieved at a community college can lead a student into any number of challenging and lucrative careers. But in any case the degrees and careers won't materialize unless a student can successfully navigate the coursework. That means long hours spent studying and in the classroom, and many stressful hours waiting for grades to be posted. Modern technology brings a lot of support to the table, as long as a student knows how to properly utilize what is out there. Here's a quick look at some of the essential computing features for community college students.

If you want to make sure you get through community college with the best grades possible, you've got to be able to work from several different locations. Most community college students commute to school, and depending on your schedule you might find yourself studying in coffee shops, the library, or even on your break at a part-time job. That means you need portability, so a laptop computer should be your first purchase. Choose a PC or iOS device based on your personal preference or budget, but as long as you can safely bring it with you and work remotely, you'll be better prepared for whatever community college has to throw your direction. Mobile technology now offers additional options, so you could go with a tablet or smartphone device. But just make sure whatever you use is sufficient not only for internet searching and studying, but also for laying out reports and essays.

Another key feature for the community college student is cloud computing. This is wholly software-based, so you should be able to take advantage of it regardless of the hardware you use. There are two different elements at play here. First of all, cloud storage gives you an easy way to back up you work online, so you'll never miss a deadline due to computer issues. Hard drives can break down, computers can be stolen, but as long as you have your cloud storage password at hand you'll be able to log into your service from any internet-linked device and download your work. The second element is file sharing. Cloud computing allows you to upload files large and small to a shared online folder, meaning simplified workflow for group projects. You may need to send files to your professor or to fellow students contributing to a larger project.

Finally, don't forget about modern software and mobile applications that will help you get through school. Succeeding at school is only partially about intelligence. Studying and test-taking are skills that must be developed, and you can use computer technology to help you do these things. One aspect is organization, so check out some of the free or inexpensive apps that will help you keep track of your schedule and the work you've got ahead in each class. The other key aspect is financial, as you've got to keep a close eye on your expenses each month to make sure you can afford tuition, books and all of the other related costs. So check out some of the budgeting programs available to keep you focused on your goals. Shop around with a few of the PC wholesale websites that often sell this year's software at deep discounts in advance of next year's releases.

This post was written by Chad Agrawal

Chad Agrawal is the founder of CCTS, helping students transfer from community college to Ivy League, tier 1 or anywhere else by following this community college guide.

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