For some students it’s only been a matter of weeks since the doors closed behind you for the summer holidays. For others it’s been a lifetime back at home with the parents eagerly anticipating a return to University for what many perceive to be the best time of their lives.
Either way, it’s important that you’re prepared for absolutely everything the teachers, tutors and lecturers will throw at you.
We’re all well aware that being a student has its perks – the socialising, the countless PlayStation or Xbox tournaments with the flat mates, the freedom of living away from home and takeaway after takeaway without Mum cracking down on your eating habits. But there are plenty of faults as well – you have to learn to do your own washing, (and ironing in a minority of cases), as well as learning to budget as the student loan only goes so far.
So as a first time, and even a returning student, how do you go about budgeting to make your money last, and get everything you need to get yourself primed and ready for the first semester? Well the best place to start is to think about your rent and how much of a percentage of your loan that will take up, and then how much you want to spend on food, drink and “relaxing” each week. From then, the best approach is to think about the essentials, being your gadgets and academic must-haves – your textbooks, stationary, etc.
But what gadgets do you need? Well the first port of call is a laptop of course, something you can use to get all of your work done in your house or flat, meaning that you don’t spend every hour of the day on campus either in the computer rooms or in the library. For some, working in the library is perfect with the quiet conditions and no distractions from your flat mates encouraging you to come and watch whatever reality television show is on at the time or to see the wonder goal Wayne Rooney just scored.
But others find that their home or bedroom is the best place to get their work done, where they have access to their favourite music, the “comfort breaks” are just around the corner and they have access to their phones to call a course-mate in case of emergency! With plenty of laptops on the market, it’s difficult to make your choice. Manufacturers are always releasing new models around this time of year, filled with shiny new hardware aimed at making your life easier, with many aiming their products directly at the student market with some great deals available if you do your research.
The mistake that a lot of first-time students make is to splash the cash on the top of the range laptop or tablet – which are becoming increasingly popular, especially with the purpose of typing up notes during lectures and group projects – is that they opt for the device with the most features in an attempt to impress their new flat mates and look like you know your stuff. But the truth is, you don’t need to be doing that, and you’ll find yourself regretting that you did by the end of the first semester when you’re struggling to get through to the next loan payment date because all your cash is gone. Yes, you do need a computer of some kind, whether it’s a laptop, ultrabook or tablet is up to you, and of course you need a mobile phone – we all do – but look around for deals or packages where you can make your money go further. Just like you would in the supermarket with buy-one-get-one-free offers on baked beans and crisps, you can find that you could get a deal involving the computer of your choice and maybe even a printer thrown into the mix or at a discounted price, just by looking around and choosing the best model for the job, not simply the best model.
Budgeting is difficult to everyone, so you won’t be alone in struggling to make ends meet, but if you find a method that works for you, whether it’s buying own brand food or a student-friendly laptop, you’ll be much happier and in a better place to complete your work not only on time but to the desired level too.
This article was written by UK-based technology blogger Matt Rawlings, an expert in the field of laptops and tablet computers, aiming to give the best advice and find affordable ultrabooks and laptops.