How to find the best laptop for a high school graduate

College students need laptops. Your son or daughter has been sharing the family desktop or laptop, but as the countdown to college begins, it's time to consider purchasing one for your child. While shopping, parents, especially those who aren't tech savants, may be asking themselves, "What is the best laptop?" The answer? It depends.

While in college, will your child have access to the internet free through Wi-Fi to use his or her Ultrabook? If so, is it a secure network? Depending on what the university offers, you may want to invest in a Wi-Fi router or other technology to ensure safe connections to the internet because your child will definitely need to use it. Most dorm rooms have sufficient electric outlets and wiring to accommodate computer use; however, if your child is living off campus, you will want to make sure your son or daughter rents a place that's technology-friendly.

What's the best laptop for your child?

What is your child's major? If your daughter plans to study English, for example, she will use the laptop primarily for writing papers and doing homework. There's no need to buy a high-end laptop with all the bells and whistles. However, if your son is a photography major, you need to purchase a laptop that allows him to do photo editing. So you'll need to purchase him a laptop that has more memory and power. Of course, since students often change their majors, consider a middle-of-the-road laptop. In the long run, it's less expensive to purchase more power and memory than your son or daughter needs than to have to purchase a new one or upgrade within a year.

Time to purchase

Every spring near graduation, you'll find some of the best laptop deals of the year. Not only will you find discounts on the laptops, but you will also find some manufacturers and retailers bundle offers to include extra accessories. Because of the popularity of some laptops, you may have to wait several weeks or a month or more to receive your computer. So purchase your child's laptop as soon as possible. Remember, many companies offer rebates, providing you cut out and mail codes found on the packaging. So be careful how you open the box.

In addition, having your child set up and use the computer before heading off to college is best. Laptops are user-friendly, but you want to make sure your child knows how to set up and use the laptop while you're around to help. Plus, you will want to take the laptop and accessories to your insurance agent to ensure everything's covered in case of theft, damage or fire. Take photographs of the laptop and accessories, focusing in on serial numbers and other identifying information and keep that information with you, in addition to making sure your child has a copy for his or her records.

Laptops are essential to any college student; there is no one-size-fits-all laptop. Best is defined by what suits your needs and budget.

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