To graduating seniors and their parents: Congratulations! I am taking a minute to write out some tips I give to seniors who ask me about buying a laptop for college. The college laptop is more important than ever. While sometimes you cannot determine how long a piece of hardware can last, you can at least start saving money now by considering the following tips.
Wait to buy until you have access to college stores
Many colleges have negotiated contracts with Dell, Apple, Microsoft or other vendors for special prices for their students. A lot of times, these negotiated prices for hardware include perks like extended warranties, which end up saving you hundreds of dollars over consumer prices or retail store sales.
Most colleges also provide software for free… yes, free! Don’t buy Microsoft Office or antivirus subscriptions until you check out your own campus’s computer/software store, because it is now being bundled into the prices that colleges negotiate for their entire campus network. Even if there is a cost, the deal itself is better because you are paying for pro- or enterprise-level products or protection rather than consumer-grade. You only get access to these deals if you have your campus username and password set up, though. So, get all of your new student orientation done early so you can start your shopping.
- Clemson’s Computer Store: http://www.clemson.edu/ccit/store
- Clemson Software: http://www.clemson.edu/ccit/software_applications/software/
- University of South Carolina https://itservices.usc.edu/software/
- University of South Carolina’s computer deals as part of the USC Book Store https://www.uscbookstore.com/t6-computer.aspx
Don’t see your college store above? Search for “computer store” or “software” on your college’s website to find similar links.
Ask and find education discounts
If colleges do not have their own computer or software stores, major companies provide discounts for college students. All you need is your .edu email address. For example, Amazon offers a discounted rate for its Prime subscription (http://amazon.com/student/). Apple (http://www.apple.com/us-hed/shop), Lenovo (http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/portals/students/) and others have dedicated sites to college students if you have a verifiable school email address. Searching for “students” or “education” on these sites can show you special deals.
Check for coupon or promo Codes before purchasing
I can’t tell you how much money I have saved by checking for coupon or promo codes before clicking that “Submit Order” button. Sites like RetailMeNot (http://www.retailmenot.com) aggregate these codes and also allow users to report when they are expired. When the deal doesn’t look sweet enough, add a promo code!