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Are MacBooks Worth It for College? Here’s How To Decide

College is a crucial juncture for many students and the beginning of adulthood for many people.  When you’re preparing to go to college, lots of questions come up, like what classes to enroll in and what tech you need to invest in. Probably, you may also be wondering if you should purchase a MacBook for this new adventure.

MacBooks are an excellent choice for students because of their prolonged battery life, performance, and premium lightweight design. While generally more expensive than their PC counterparts, MacBooks’ price is almost always worth it for college students.

Ultimately, the best MacBook for students depends on each person’s unique needs, like grade level, college major, and learning environment. For reference, I come from a family of Mac owners. In fact, I’m typing this on my 2021 14-inch Macbook Pro.

Is it worth purchasing a MacBook for college?

Best MacBooks for College

When you start in college, a laptop is usually one of the first major purchases you make welcoming you into the world of adulthood. As a college student, you want something that will be lightweight so that you can carry it around from class to class, and also something that will last—preferably at least as long as you’re in school. 

Generally speaking, if you’re looking for a great laptop, pretty much any MacBook is guaranteed to fit the bill without even considering your needs. Overall, MacBooks have clear screens with superb resolution and excellent touchpads, sleek and slim design.  

Recently, Macs have started using phone chips as their new processors. While it might have been laughed at in years past, the new chipsets are blowing away rival products because of their high performance and raw efficiency.

So, if you’re in the market for an outstanding laptop for school, you won’t go wrong with a Mac. Below are a few of my personal favorites for college students for various reasons that I’ll discuss in-depth. 

  • MacBook Air
  • MacBook Pro 14 and 16
  • MacBook Pro 13

The top of my list of favorite MacBooks for college students is the MacBook Air. It’s affordable and has high-quality features, two factors that college students consider as a priority.  

Usually, you can find a MacBook Air for around $1,000 – depending on what retailer you go to. Amazon often has great discounts on their website (link to Amazon).

However, if you’re considering a Windows laptop instead, remember that while their initial costs are generally lower, the residual value for trade-ins or used sales is significantly less than a MacBook. Likewise, most Windows PCs over three years old are worth next to nothing (source).

Secondly, MacBook Airs have superior battery life. One comparative test done by Laptop Magazine recorded MacBook Airs lasting for 14 hours on a charge with continuous Wi-Fi surfing (source).

The second two options on my list of preferred MacBooks are Pro 16 and Pro 14. They’re more expensive than the Mac Airs but great performers with rich resolutions. These two options are compelling for specific college majors that may need more graphic design capabilities and demanding projects (source).

MacBook Batteries

I briefly mentioned how much better the battery life is for MacBooks than other devices. College students need a laptop that can last them all day. MacBooks are great because they’ve been tested to last under pressure. So you can rest easy knowing your MacBook will be up and ready for use for your 8:00 a.m. lecture to your 4:00 p.m. labs.  

The MacBook Air performed the best in the battery life test performed by Laptop Magazine, lasting for a long 14-hour Wi-Fi surfing period. The MacBook Pro 15 and 13 also did reasonably well, lasting for 10 and a half hours and 9 hours and 50 minutes respectively (source).

Regardless of which MacBook you choose, the battery life will beat the average laptop.  According to Laptop Battery Express, the average time most laptop batteries last is one and a half hours to a max of four hours (source).

Pretty much all Apple laptops have extraordinary battery life. Today, the average for most Apple laptops is around 12 to 15 hours in typical web browsing use.  

Besides their stellar battery lives, the other benefit to MacBooks is the amount of silent power they have. Most of them have about 8GB to 16GB of storage, depending on your needs and your purchase model. The quiet power is excellent, too, because your MacBook won’t blast hot air at you if you happen to use your laptop on your physical lap. 

Laptop Magazine says that MacBooks have battery life virtually unmatched by any other laptop on the market. So, if you’re learning remotely or live on campus, you can rest easy knowing that your computer will keep up with you and your coursework.   

Still not sold on MacBooks? Read on to learn why they beat PCs in terms of overall performance.  

MacBook Performance

If you’ve been using a PC, maybe at your parent’s house, switching to a Mac for college will change your world. Going from the underpowered laptops running on Windows to a fast, ultrathin, and powerful MacBook will transform your classroom game.  

Currently, the MacBook Air with an M1 processor is one of the universally best options available today for most people, especially college students. This familiar design is supercharged with increased performance capabilities and superior battery life.  

The M1 chip is the processor used in most iOS phones and iPads and has brought revolutionary speed, endurance, and performance features to the beloved MacBook Air. 

The MacBook Air with an M1 is excellent for most people. Especially if you’ll primarily use it for term papers, notes, social media, and just the typical web-based applications; however, if you’re planning on using your Mac for more detailed and storage-heavy projects, you may want to opt for something a little more robust.

Other options for increased power and performance include MacBook Pro M1 in the 13 or 14-inch screen designs.

Usually, MacBook Air will cover your basic needs and last you through your entire collegiate career.  But, if you want something that can handle more professional and advanced applications, MacBook Pros may be better suited for you.

The Pros are more pricey, but they can last over 16 hours on a charge and have much larger screens and more power to enhance your options for using professional apps.   

These more advanced performers are preferred for some college majors. However, if you’re pursuing a degree in marketing or graphic design, for example, you may need a device with a larger screen, faster processors, or more storage capabilities.  

The downside to a Mac is that it’ll be considerably more expensive, but depending on your needs, this could be justified.

For example, if you need a high-performing laptop with battery longevity, the expense will be worth it. On the other hand, if you need something more fundamental, MacBook Air can give you the performance and speed you need for a much more reasonable cost (source).

MacBook Design Features

In addition to the long battery life and superb performance capabilities, college students should invest in a MacBook because of its fantastic design features.

College students have a lot to carry throughout the day.  Heavy textbooks, large backpacks, and even a method of transportation if you don’t have a car, like a skateboard or a bike. So, the last thing your average college student needs is another heavy carry-on item.

Thankfully, MacBooks have a sleek and slim design that enables them to carry over campus easily. Most Mac laptops are about 2 pounds (0.91 kg), so they’re lightweight. Also, they’re really thin, so you don’t have to worry about lugging around a cumbersome device from class to class. 

According to Honest Pros and Cons, in addition to their thin, less-than-an-inch-thick design, they also offer a superior retina display. MacBook Air, for example, has a resolution of 2560×1600 with approximately 4 million pixels. So in layman’s terms, the resolution is perfect (source).

More than that, though, Macs also offer more internal storage than their rivals. The increase in internal storage means you’ll download assignments faster, research more efficiently, and have a longer-lasting device.  

Additionally, Macs have several practical applications. MacBooks have many applications that you can use both in and out of the classroom. Some of the great apps they have that will benefit you during your studies include Numbers, Pages, Keynote, Notes, Calendar, Maps, and Reminders.

Plus, if you have an iPhone, the design will be familiar and easy to use. So you can keep yourself organized, set up a study schedule, and remind yourself about essential classroom deadlines, all with your MacBook. 

Apple laptops are very lightweight, durable, and easily repairable. As a result, they maintain their value long after their PC counterparts, and their valuable apps come in handy for both students and professionals.  

These devices’ superior performance and design have taken Apple to the top of the market for collegiate users and corporate professionals.   

Mac vs. PC

It’s a debate as old as time: Mac vs. PC. This debate isn’t only limited to computers either; the argument is more largely related to Apple vs. Microsoft. Both of these tech giants have positive offerings for consumers, but when you’re in college, usually your top concerns are cost, durability, and quality.  

There’s a constant debate circling the performance measures of Macs as compared to PCs. If you’re a broke college student, the allure of the cheap PC can be tempting, but here are some reasons why the MacBook is worth the extra buck.  

First of all, Macs, while more expensive initially, end up being more valuable to you than PCs in the long run. When you invest in technology, you want it to last. So if you invest in a MacBook, you can rest easy knowing that it’ll last you all four years of college without entirely depreciating.

If you get a PC, on the other hand, you’ll likely not be able to trade it in later or sell it for much, if anything at all. Further, did you know that Apple offers student discounts? That’s right, using the Apple Education discount, you can get a sizable discount off your purchase of a MacBook if you’re in school (source).

Secondly, Macs are so much easier to purchase and sort through than PCs. There are so many choices and no universal quality of one PC to the next. They’re all highly specialized devices that depreciate rapidly over time, can be difficult to get repaired, and so on.

The sheer amount of options available with PCs can make anyone’s eyes glaze over. With Mac, you can easily streamline the shopping process and narrow down your top choices. Plus, MacBooks are a much more well-respected and durable technology than PCs (source).  

Next, Apple has more options for storage than PCs. With Apple, you can use Time Machine and the Cloud to back up your files. The fantastic thing about Time Machine is that you can go back to find deleted documents and back up your documents. 

Imagine working on an extensive term paper, but something goes wrong, and you lose all of your work. It likely wouldn’t even be a problem if you have an Apple device because your job is backed up.  

Macs have Apple, and PCs have Dell, Sony, HP, etc., but Microsoft is making the software. This large number of manufacturers can be complicated if your device has a problem. However, if you run into an issue with your Mac, it’s a much simpler fix because you only deal with Apple.  

Conclusion    

MacBooks are worth the expense from a technical standpoint, especially for college students. Their longevity, durability, and style offer more positive features than PCs, and their value doesn’t decrease as rapidly.  

However, it’s worth noting that MacBooks will be costly. But, anything worth having is worth getting in quality. So, I’d say that overall a MacBook is worth every penny spent. 

If you’re in a pinch for cash and don’t need a device with higher performance capabilities, then MacBook Air will likely fit your needs perfectly. Plus, MacBook Airs are less expensive and available for discounts.

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