Basic Tools for Success

When I first started college back in 1997 I had a desktop computer running a Pentium II processor with 32 GB of RAM, Windows 95 and a 4GB hard drive. I think it had Office 97.

Times have changed.

My computer of choice now is a Surface Pro 3 tablet with Windows 10 and Office 2016. I went with the i5, 256GB, 8GB model. Naturally Microsoft announced the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 a few months after I made the purchase but in all honesty the Surface Pro 3 is a great unit. I did pick up the newer Surface Pen and I really like it.

In addition to the Surface Pro 3, I have an older desktop setup with a 24″ monitor. I find myself pulling up assignments, slide decks or videos on the desktop and then using the Surface Pro 3 and OneNote to take notes with the Surface Pen. Having my handwritten notes on my computers and backed up helps me sleep a bit better at night.

All of my school files are saved up to OneDrive and sync across both devices. So far that has worked well.

There is a bit of fruit in my technical diet in the form of an Apple iPad but I find I don’t use it all that much short of checking email or catching up on a game via the WatchESPN app.

Other tools I use are your standard issue pens, pencils and notecards, file folders and binders and a backpack. I am trying to keep everything digital especially since all assignments are submitted online via blackboard.

For a calculator, I use a TI-84 Plus CE. On the iPad I do have the TI-NSpire CAS app but I tend to use the TI-84 unless I get stuck or have something with a radical in it that I want to double check how to simplify.

All exams to date are proctored via ProctorU and require a web camera. I have a small Logitech HD Webcam 310 attached to the desktop that does the job and came in handy for FSE 100’s video calls with my team members.

Believe it or not, I may be the only college student without a mobile phone these days. After my position was eliminated I gave back my company mobile phone and didn’t bother to replace it. My wife has a phone though so if I’m venturing into unchartered territory and she’s staying in, I just borrow her phone. So far that’s working out well for us and keeping expenses down.


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