BYU offers technology solutions for freshman success

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Many BYU students use personal laptops to take notes in class or work on assignments from home. Library reference assistant Paul Grayson said personal laptops can be a great asset to college students. (Elliott Miller)

Incoming freshmen will find many technological resources and programs available to BYU students to help them have a successful college experience.

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Library reference assistant Paul Grayson said laptops can be helpful to college students for the convenience of taking notes in class and working on assignments from home.

“I think it’s a great asset to always have your own personal laptop,” Grayson said. “It’s more reliable to have something that you own rather than to rely on someone else’s.”

Some of BYU’s academic departments recommend a specific type of laptop for students considering its majors. The BYU Store website has compiled an online list of computer requirements by major, which provides comments from each department about recommended hardware and software specifications for its students.

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Technology buyer Joe Allred of Cougar Tech, the electronics department of the BYU Store, said BYU students living in on-campus housing must have access to a router in order to access the internet from their apartments. Internet network access is included in the cost of on-campus housing, but students must either own or share a router to use it.

The wireless setup for students moving into off-campus housing will depend on the networking services offered by their apartment complexes.

Allred said routers must be dual-band, meet the 802.11 AC standard and support wired connections, according to the minimum networking requirements for on-campus housing. Allred said routers with these specifications usually cost around $60 minimum.

“One thing that students need to be sure of is that they can’t just buy any old router or a cheap router because they’ll get the quality of cheap, which is not a very good connection,” Allred said.

Students who wish to stream video in their apartments should buy a dual-band router that costs more than $100, according to Allred. Students should also limit the number of connections on their routers because too much interference can slow down the internet connection for everyone using the router.

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Microsoft Office 365 is free to students and university employees per active semester atoffice.byu.edu. However, when the student or employee’s active role at BYU ceases — for example, if a student stops taking classes — the software becomes read only.

Software packages are also available for purchase at the BYU Store for students who prefer to purchase a subscription to Microsoft Office, Adobe or other major-specific software. A list of the available software packages at the BYU Store is online.

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BYU’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) offers a rental service for incoming freshmen who will soon leave on missions or who do not wish to buy a computer right now. Allred recommended that students who wish to rent a computer make arrangements with the OIT office early.

The BYU Store offers academic pricing, no sales tax charge, and occasional promotions for students buying their electronics at BYU Tech. (Maddi Driggs)
The BYU Store offers academic pricing, no sales tax charge, and occasional promotions for students buying their electronics at BYU Tech. (Maddi Driggs)

Allred said students may rent laptops installed with complete software packages, including Microsoft Office, for an affordable monthly fee. More information about this service is available on OIT’s website.

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Allred recommended Apple Care insurance for incoming freshmen who buy a Mac computer. He said the academic price for this service is $183 for three-year coverage, which includes Apple’s 24-hour phone service for students with technical questions or problems with any of their Apple devices.

Students may also buy a four-year “SafeWare” insurance plan from the BYU Store, which includes accidental damage coverage, advance replacement and on-campus repairs. BYU Tech is a fully-authorized service center for Mac devices in or out of warranty, according to BYU Tech Supervisor Craig Tracy.

Students having trouble with any of BYU’s computer services can call OIT at 801-422-4000 for technical support on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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BYU Tech sells all of its electronics at discounted academic pricing, according to Allred. BYU students are also not required to pay sales tax at the BYU Store, which applies to all of BYU Tech’s laptops, routers, software and other electronic products.

“Students at least get the double savings of academic pricing and no sales tax,” Allred said. “Sometimes there are sales that are even better than that, and at that point it’s like a triple savings.”

Allred suggested students watch for back-to-school promotions from hardware and software companies as the school year approaches. Tracy said Apple initiates one of these sales every summer, last year offering a free pair of Beats headphones with the purchase of a Mac laptop. These yearly promotions are available at the BYU Store.

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There are also many technological resources available for students to use at the Harold B. Lee Library on campus.

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