Student Computer Purchases FAQ

Frequently asked questions (and answers) about student computer purchases at Lafayette.

Q: Are students required to have their own computers?
A: There is no requirement, but most students find that having their own computer is convenient.

Q: What are my computing options at Lafayette?
A: You can bring your own or use public computers in the library and computing labs on campus. ITS maintains several labs that are regularly updated with newer systems. These labs also include laser printing.

Q: Are there any restrictions on how I can use my own computer?
A: All members of the campus community are expected to abide by the college's Acceptable Use Policy.

The copyright infringement policy further describes appropriate use associated with the use of file-sharing programs such as instant messaging and bit torrent clients.

Q: Is there wireless Internet access on campus?
A: Yes. Wireless Internet access is available in academic buildings, residence halls, and many public spaces.

Q: What do I need to get my computer on the campus network?
A: You will need your Network ID and password to register your computer on the wireless and wired networks.

If you want to connect with a wired connection in your residence hall, and you're living somewhere other than McKeen, Ruef, or Watson Courts, you will need to purchase an ALL-LAN network cable, available from the college store only. Residents of McKeen, Ruef, and Watson Courts can use a typical CAT-5 network patch cable available from the college store, or merchants that sell electronics and/or computing equipment (Amazon, Staples, BestBuy, etc.).

Q: Can I buy a computer through the college?
A: The College does not sell computers, however Dell and Apple have agreements with Lafayette that provide students the opportunity to purchase computers at a discount. Access to purchase these systems is available through the Computer and Software Sales page. Since the College is not directly involved in these sales programs, all customer service issues must be handled directly with the manufacturer.

Q: If I purchase a new computer can I have it shipped directly to the college?
A: The college post office will not accept deliveries for new students until one week before the start of the term. If you cannot bring your new computer with you, make sure the shipper will not deliver it until after you have arrived on campus. If it arrives too early, it will be refused.

Q: Should I buy a specific computer for a particular major?
A: Although some disciplines tend to favor one operating system over another there are no specific computer recommendations for particular majors. Most discipline-related applications will be available to students on academic department lab machines (and typically will not be available for a student-owned computer).

Q: Are there suggested minimum specifications?
A: ITS recommends you configure a computer similar to those offered by Apple and Dell on the computer and software sales web page. If you are configuring your own system you should pay special attention to how pricing relates to the processor speed, memory (RAM), the hard drive, display, and warranty coverage options.

ITS recommends Windows 10, 8.1 or Windows 7 (Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate) for PC's and OSX versions 10.6 - 10.9 for macs.

Q: Can I bring my tablet/netbook/e-reader to campus?
A: You will be able to connect these devices to the wireless network. While these devices are a convenient way to access web-based services and for basic day-to-day computing, you may not be able to rely on them solely so plan to take advantage of numerous computing labs on campus.

Q: Do I need a printer?
A: Laser printing is available from college-owned computers in ITS-maintained labs throughout campus; color printing is available through the Reprographics Office in Marquis Hall. There are currently no incremental charges associated with lab printing. You might want to consider bringing your own printer to campus if you like the convenience of being able to print in your residence. Wireless printers are not supported on the campus network.

Q: What software should I purchase for my computer?
A: Microsoft Office is the standard productivity suite on campus. Because you are a student you are eligible for special pricing through specific vendors. See the Computer and Software Sales page for details. Also, Office can usually be included as part of a system purchase from major manufacturers.

Lafayette licenses anti-virus software from Symantec that is available at no cost to all students so it's not necessary to pay extra for anti-virus software because it will have to be uninstalled prior to installing Symantec. The college does not license any other applications for installation on student-owned computers.

Q: I want to buy Microsoft Office, but I'm not sure which version to get. What are the differences?
A: Students have two choices for Microsoft Office. Office 365 (mac and PC) is a subscription service that offers options that span multiple years and may allow installation on multiple computers. If the subscription is not renewed, access to both the software and the cloud storage service ends. The more traditional option is to purchase the Office suite which does not include cloud services and limits installation to one computer but use of the software never expires. The current versions for this option are Office 2013 (PC) and Office 2011 (mac). ITS support is available for Office 2013/2011 but Office 365 is supported directly by Microsoft.

Q: Do I need to have my computer insured or purchase an extended warranty?
A: Students are responsible for insuring their computer systems. Many homeowner policies will cover a computer at no additional cost; some coverage is contingent on it being specifically itemized on the policy. Check with your insurance carrier for the specifics of your policy.

If purchasing a computer, think about the warranty. If you plan on making your computer last 3-4 years, purchase a 3-4 year warranty. You may want to make sure the warranty covers things like damage from spills and falls from the desk to the floor. If purchasing a laptop, look for the extended/complete warranty that covers spills and other accidents as well as screen damage.