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Laptop and/or Desktop for College Student?

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Kid going to college or high school? Mine are.

When I was in college, I went through terrible neck pain that required 6 weeks of physical therapy—all from hunching over a computer. Today, laptops are guaranteed injury-provokers over time. They have their place, but for hours of work over years, they are beyond awful to physically dangerous.

Don’t wreck your kid’s neck with a laptop (hunching over, terrible ergonomics) or staring at tiny screen and slowly damaging vision—get a desktop with a big screen and preferably a desktop and a laptop (if you get both, make sure that both are Thunderbolt 2 or both are Thunderbolt 3, for compatibility with peripherals).

My thoughts on “both” further below in response to James G.

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James writes:

Although I understand your reasoning for choosing to send your girl(s) off to college with a desktop, let me share my experience.

My youngest son is maybe 7 years older than your daughter(s) and now a graduate mechanical engineer at Cal. He went off to college with an iMac desktop. Although fast, and blown away with university-grade internet speed (I think 90mbps at the time) the desktop isolated him to his room and after awhile there were psychological and social concerns with this. After he got a 13" mac laptop everything changed. The new laptop was almost as fast if not faster than his desktop but it allowed him to take his work to the library where he could more easily collaborate with his peers in real time and that changed everything. And collaboration is a skill much emphasized today compared to when you and I were in school. Yes, you have to worry more about theft and there is something about the young adult brain that is unprepared for this.

As for my nephew, his desktop was also a source of isolation and near ruination --- video games. His parents eventually sprung for a laptop but not soon enough in my opinion, and they should have taken his desktop away. I suspect girls don't have these problems so much, but consider a laptop and if you do go that route make sure it is speedy enough for email and word processing but too wimpy to effectively run computer games.

DIGLLOYD: Each person is unique and boys are not girls—and I don’t have any boys (3 girls). My girls have never played video games and have no interest in them. Netflix is the bigger time-wasting risk! And for one, social media, the evil of our time.

I didn’t explain fully in my intro—my daughter will have a basic laptop like the 2017 MacBook Pro 8GB / 128GB and a basic desktop (iMac 4K or iMac 5K) along with a 500GB Samsung T5 for storage between the two.

She greatly dislikes working on a tiny screen (just as I do), hence the desktop. And she has a medical condition that fatigues her quickly—a laptop is a terrible choice for sustained work for that reason alone. Yet the laptop is needed for portability and classes, etc.

Writing a quality essay/paper or doing complex math (e.g. her interest in physics) and in general becoming a self-reliant critical thinker can only be achieved alone. With that base in place, collaboration then brings value to bear—but not before. Through high school where she has nearly completed two years of college courses already, she works alone and is very focused—yet she has tremendous people skills at both school and work, where customers seek her out. She will be just fine on the collaboration front, and actually have a reasoning mind, which 95% of college students lack, IMO.

As to groupthink (excuse me, collaboration), it has its place at times and when appropriate, it is of course very useful and productive to have. Yet it is over-emphasized to the point of groupthink toda, certainly part of the heavy-handed collectivist trend in today’s schools (K-12 in particular as I am a witness for the las t16 years for 3 girls). Great minds did not sit around colloborating for their best ideas. I also think that collaboration is the antithesisof critical thinking (setting aside debate-type stuff).While a group can stimulate ideas and is therefore invaluable at times, it’s all a question of where/when/how much. I did not invent my 3 patents in a group; I though them up while alone and partly, while sleeping.

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