I have just recently purchased an iPad Mini in preparation for the upcoming semester. Many believe it’s a toy (and it can be, if that’s your purpose), but this generalization damages its image as a stellar all-in-one resource for university students. Sure, if you load it with games it may be difficult to focus on your studies, but as a learning/organization tool, it really is second to none.
Before I continue, I want to clarify that although I happened to choose an iPad Mini, I am talking about tablets in general. A smart phone is also very capable, but for a student’s purposes, the larger screen is advantageous. These devices can be much more valuable to students than most think. Let’s take a look at how a tablet could help you this semester.
Perhaps the one thing students struggle with most, organization is vital to succeeding in university. You may be the greatest writer on the planet, but if you don’t submit your work on time, that really doesn’t matter. Showing up to class and forgetting it’s presentation day? Not a good situation to find yourself in. So instead of relying on your brain, the dusty whiteboard in your dorm room or the notes you scribble in one of your many notebooks, a tablet can keep you on track, wherever you are.
Sure, you might say ‘just buy an organizer for twenty bucks’, but will that organizer beep to alert you when it is the night before a big algebra test you found out about on the first day of school? No, it wont. We are an ambitious bunch at the beginning of the school year, insisting we’re going to be better organized than last year, so if we take advantage of that ambition early on and schedule all our due dates into a planner app, then we can rely on notifications for the rest of the year. Furthermore, software on tablets has advanced to the point that you are able to integrate useful tools like Google Calendars, Facebook and Evernote into your daily planner, meaning you will never miss an appointment, class or social gathering ever again.
Have you ever wished you had two screens when you are writing a paper? Most people overlook this fact, but the ability to type on your computer while looking something up on your tablet keeps you focused on the task at hand. For example, you may have a relatively technical paper to write, and the instructions are a bit ambiguous. Instead of constantly flipping through tabs and programs on your computer to check the if you are on the right path, you can have the assignment’s instructions up on your tablet, and be happily writing away on your computer. Alternatively, you can access your student resources (scholarly articles, library, etc) on your tablet.
This convenience quickly becomes second nature, then it becomes a necessity. Assuming you take notes on your tablet in class, your notes would also be available to you on the same device. Gone is the cluttered desk full of notebooks and papers. All you need is a computer and your tablet.
Finally, it must be mentioned that a tablet/smartphone is essentially a social requirement. In university, this is even more apparent. Keeping in touch with your family and friends back home? No problem with Facebook, Skype and Viber. Keeping up to date with whats going on at the university, where the parties and events are at and who’s going? Facebook and Twitter have you covered. No more checking university cork boards for some cheesy flyer, just click ‘attending’ and you’re ready to go. There are tons of other great apps that one can download to keep them in the loop with all of their social media platforms. Some may suggest downloading MyLife which is a user friendly app that connects students to Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and popular E-mail servers all at the same time. Best part about it is it is free which is perfect for a freshman’s budget.
These are the reasons that compelled me to make a trip down to Best Buy and buy a tablet for the upcoming semester. We will see how it goes, but I’m sure I will look back and wonder how I ever got through a semester without it.