Deciding what and not to take to university can be tricky, and many students end up bringing too much – and spending too much in the process. This is particularly true when it comes to tech and household appliances, with many prospective students unsure of what devices they’ll need during their studies.
To help, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the tech items you should invest in for university, as well as the things you’d be better saving your money on.
There’s no two ways about it: a laptop is essential for uni. Granted, you could cope by relying on computers in the library, but it’s not always convenient. Plus, you’ll be using a laptop for a lot more than just uni work – whether that’s watching Netflix or chatting with your folks on a video call.
When buying a laptop for uni, think about what’s important and how far your budget can stretch. If you’re an English undergraduate, for example, you might only need a decent word processor and a web browser, while photography students will need more processing power to run programmes like Adobe Photoshop.
In terms of budget, it’s worth shopping around and looking at different ways to make a purchase. Some students may be entitled to an interest-free credit card, which is a good way to spread the cost of big purchases, like a new laptop.
If money is tight, remember that there are second-hand and refurbished laptops out there which offer good value for money. You may also be entitled to receive additional funding in the form of a cash grant while at uni, which could help cover the cost of a laptop.
Having established that music can be an excellent way to find focus while studying, there’s one tech essential you’ll definitely want to tick off your list: a good pair of headphones. Having a pair of headphones or earbuds for those late-night study sessions is a must, and many students wouldn’t leave their digs without them.
Even in a quiet university library, it can be tricky to concentrate when there’s people rustling, milling around or having quiet conversations. A pair of headphones, particularly noise-cancelling ones, will help block out background noise, so you can put on your favourite focus playlist and zone into your studies.
And it isn’t just study where a pair of headphones will come in handy. Say you’re looking to watch a film in your room when there’s a party going on next door; a pair of headphones will block out the din and help you enjoy that Netflix binge in peace. They’re also great when you’re on your travels, either travelling to uni or visiting friends and family, allowing you to listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks to your heart’s content.
When you’re in your room, chances are you’ll want to listen to music – making a speaker or radio absolutely essential. Music is important to most students, so a small, inexpensive sound system will help you enjoy your favourite tracks on your own or with your new mates.
If your budget will stretch, we’d recommend a small, rechargeable wireless speaker. They’re great for listening to music at home or out and about, and mean you can listen whether you’re in your room or in the shared living space.
A DAB radio is also a good option, letting you tune into the huge and growing number of digital radio stations here in the UK. The bonus here is that most DABs have an alarm function, so you can wake up for lectures to music rather than an annoying alarm. A lot also feature space for an AUX lead, so you can play music through your phone like an ordinary speaker.
If you enjoy keeping active and regularly work out, an activity tracker or smartwatch could be a sound investment for university. These types of wearable devices track your activity throughout the day, not only showing you how much exercise you’ve done, but also how well you’ve been sleeping, how much water you’ve drunk, and other tips to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Activity trackers, like Fitbits, vary a lot in price, but you can pick up non-big-name versions for under £20 from Amazon and eBay. Smartwatches, on the other hand, tend to be a bit pricier, but they can be worth it for the increased functionality and features they offer.
While, in 9 out of 10 cases, a laptop will do exactly the same thing as a tablet, they can be a nice-to-have if you have the cash to spend on one. Tablets don’t come cheap, especially from big-name brands like Apple, but there are options available that could suit your shoestring student budget.
Having a tablet can be handy at uni. For example, they’re great for lectures and seminars, being less heavy and conspicuous than a full laptop. They’re also much lighter to carry around, which is definitely something to consider if you plan to use your bike to get to campus.
A printer may sound like a useful tool to have at uni, and in some cases they can be. But what they’re not is essential. For the price you’d spend on a printer, you’ll pay significantly less to use the printers in the library – and that’s before you’ve factored in the cost of ink.
Granted, printers aren’t all that expensive to buy; you can get one for around £30. What is expensive is the cost of ink cartridges, which will end up setting you back a pretty penny over the course of your student life.
What’s more, the need to print copies of any document – be it a form or essay – is decreasing by the day. A lot of universities now accept digital copies of essays and assignments, while forms can be filled in online and submitted electronically – saving you time, money and paper.
A lot of students rock up on their first day of university armed with everything but the kitchen sink – from toasters to toastie makers, waffle irons to blenders. But in most cases, buying these devices just isn’t necessary – at least not individually, that is.
In your eyes, a toastie maker may be essential, but it also could be for any one of your neighbours, or all of you, for that matter. This means you’ll end up with a half a dozen of the same appliance between you, when you could have waited and decided as a group which tools you need – saving you money and helping to free up precious cupboard space.
What’s more, you may underestimate what’s supplied to you by your accommodation provider. Most kitchens in student halls come fully kitted out with all the essentials you need, so buying tech beforehand could end up being a waste of money.
We hope this guide helps you when planning and packing for university. For more student tips and advice, read the full Nido blog, or visit our homepage to learn more about our stylish and contemporary student homes