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The student mom: How to choose the right computer

The brand, speed and cost of computers vary and are matters of preference. The non-negotiables when purchasing a laptop are battery life, memory, mobility and USB ports for external storage.

Mother studying on laptop

Among the many things to consider when preparing to go back to school, choosing the right computer should be one of your fun and easy decisions. To make sure your money is well spent and you purchase a computer that meets your academic and technological needs, be sure to take these points into consideration.

Battery life

Moms going back to school are sure to be on the go the majority of the time. While juggling all of their mom and student responsibilities, it is likely there will be extended amounts of time between outlets and charging. Since a computer is of no use if you cannot turn it on, looking for a computer with batteries that will hold their charge is a must. The best way to research the battery life of a computer is to read customer reviews and the computer’s specifications. Most specs will include the type of battery and how many are in the computer device — you can then search the details and quality of that battery. Generally, tablets have a longer battery life than laptops.


As a student mom, it is safe to assume that your computer will be used for school papers, virtual classes and class presentations as well as family photos, Christmas lists and recipes. To make sure your computer has the capacity to store all that you need — and some of what your children need, too — you should minimally select a computer with 4 GB RAM, but 8 GB RAM is recommended. Generally, tablets have less memory space, so maximizing the amount of RAM and hard drive space would be important if you make a tablet purchase.


Moms have enough to carry already — a bulky computer is unnecessary and burdensome. Fortunately, computers are becoming increasingly compact and lightweight as laptops, tablets and even convertible laptops — both a tablet and a laptop with a touch screen and keyboard — are designed with mobility in mind. The only concern with the focus shift from stationary computers (desktops) to laptops and tablets is their durability. Thinner screens are more easily cracked — this has been known to happen walking from an air-conditioned room to the summer-heated outdoors — and while replacement screens are an option, they do not work as well as the original. Corners are easier to chip, hinges are not as sturdy and keys pop off when a lightweight computer is not well made. Again, be sure to read customer reviews for some insight on the durability of the computer in consideration.

USB port(s)

If any issues arise with the computer’s battery, memory or mobility — it dies, reaches capacity or is too heavy to carry around — you will find a memory stick can save the day. Memory sticks conveniently store your work on a handheld, portable stick — when you remember to use it as a backup and save your work. A memory stick is only useful, though, if your computer has a USB drive. While it is now common for laptops to have one to two USB drives, most tablets do not have any. It is not recommended to purchase a computer device for school without a USB port and a way to externally save your work in case of loss, theft or computer failure.

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