Have you ever lost a notebook or a folder the day before an exam? Do you find yourself recycling pounds of notebooks at the end of the semester? Is there always that one irritating classmate who never goes to class, and then shows up before a test begging for you to Xerox your notes for him?
Taking notes on your laptop eliminates all these problems. If you make sure to backup all your files on an external hard drive or online storage system, you’ll never have to worry about losing your notes at the last minute. You’ll save trees, and you can say goodbye to spirals that eventually warp into wicked metal spikes that get tangled together and slash up your Ultimate Frisbee hand. You also can e-mail the irritating kid your notes, and, in the college bartering system, now he owes you a good turn if you ever happen to miss class yourself.
A laptop at school also eliminates the need for a physical CD collection and a phone in your room with the help of services like Skype. You also can set up an account with Picasa or Flickr and keep all of your photos online instead of littering what little surface area you have.
Get yourself a good lock for your laptop for when it’s in your dorm room, and choose one that is light so that it’s easy to carry with you. A cord that is at least five feet long is also good because you’re not always going to have a fully charged battery and you won’t want to trip people coming into class late. I also suggest that you buy a major brand of computer so that it will be simple to find someone to help you when you inevitably run into technical problems.
Finally, be sure to check out The Unofficial Apple Weblog’s article “Back to School: collecting and organizing information” for many great programs to keep your work organized this year. A number of the programs mentioned in the article have PC counterparts, so don’t be fooled by the site name. The article is a must-read roundup.