Going to college for the first time can be a very stressful experience. Moving into your new dorm, signing up for classes, and joining clubs and organizations can be stressful enough to have to worry about your internet connection on top of that. New students sometimes might worry if college dorms have an ethernet connection for their devices.
Most college dorms have ethernet connections for residents. An ethernet connection can get you faster speeds, more stable connectivity, and reduce latency. You should plan to bring an ethernet cable with you to connect your devices to the internet.
Planning will help you ensure that you have a seamless transition into college dorm life. Keep reading this article to learn more about what to expect from the internet situation in your future dorm.
Should I Bring an Ethernet Cable to My College Dorm?
You should bring an ethernet cable to your college dorm if you plan on using the wired internet connection for faster and more reliable speeds. Your college’s student store likely sells ethernet cables at a steep markup, so you should bring one from home if you can.
Having an ethernet connection in your dorm will help prevent many WiFi nightmares.
A slow or unreliable internet connection could make the difference between turning in an assignment on time or past its deadline. Late submissions could significantly hurt your grades, so try to find a stable connection before it becomes an issue.
You’ll find that most college dorms offer an ethernet connection but don’t provide ethernet cables for students. For example, the University of Michigan residence halls offer ethernet connections but not ethernet cables.
Plan to bring an ethernet cable with you to avoid any issues (source).
If you’re bringing an ethernet cable with you, you might also need to bring an adapter. Most Apple desktop computers come with an ethernet port, but newer-generation MacBooks don’t have one.
If your MacBook doesn’t have an ethernet port, you can get a USB C to Ethernet Adapter such as the compact and lightweight Uni USB C to Ethernet Adapter (link to Amazon). This allows you to connect with your dorm’s ethernet connection, without worrying about having the right connector on your laptop.
How To Get Faster WiFi in a College Dorm
College dorms are notorious for having slow and unreliable WiFi speeds. Libraries and lecture halls tend to have the best WiFi coverage on campus, but those aren’t always accessible if you’re trying to pull an all-nighter for an important assignment.
Follow these helpful tips if you’re trying to make the best out of your college dorm internet situation.
Use a Wired Connection
Get an ethernet cable and browse the internet with a wired connection. Not only are ethernet connections more stable than wi-fi, but they’re generally faster, too. In addition, wi-fi connections are not always secure, as people can hack into your computer while on the campus wi-fi.
The best way to prevent this is through a wired connection. If you are directly connected to the internet, it’s a lot harder for hackers to snoop in your computer files (source).
Install Your Own Router
Installing your own router in your dorm can be a great way to boost the wi-fi signal for your devices. To do this, you’ll first need to check with your college’s IT department to ensure that your school’s facilities allow for router use and then request approval from the department.
If your dorm doesn’t have a direct ethernet connection, you can also use a wi-fi router for a wired connection.
Most personal routers have an ethernet port, so you can plug your computer directly into your router with an ethernet cable. We recommend the TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router (link to Amazon) as an affordable way to boost the internet connection in your dorm.
Check out the following YouTube video for detailed instructions on using your WiFi router to get a wired internet connection:
Download Big Files During Off-Peak Times
Bandwidth overload is another reason why your dorm wi-fi could be slow. You share a building with hundreds if not thousands of college students, most of whom are likely avid internet users. If everyone tries to use the internet simultaneously, then the wi-fi will be overloaded.
Try using the wi-fi for your more data-intensive tasks when others aren’t using it. For faster speeds, try the following times:
- Any gaps you may have during the day when other students are in class.
- Early mornings while students sleep in.
- On the weekends when many students might go back home.
- In the middle of the night, when everyone else is sleeping, if you’re a night owl.
Although working around other students’ schedules is less than ideal, using wi-fi during off-peak periods can save you time and frustration.
Use a Wireless Adapter for Your Laptop
If you have a weak wi-fi connection in your dorm and your IT department won’t approve a personal router, you can get an adapter for your computer. These adapters plug into USB ports and help you attain faster speeds and more reliable connections.
I recommend the TP-Link AC600 USB WiFi Adapter for PC (link to Amazon). This device will allow you to get speeds up to 200 Mbps and maximize your laptop or desktop computer’s range.
Can I Install a WiFi Router in My College Dorm?
You can install a personal wi-fi router in your college dorm if allowed by your university. You should check with your college’s IT department if personal routers are allowed and if you need to request approval. Some IT departments prohibit the use of personal routers to prevent service disruptions.
Before you go out and buy a router, you should get in touch with your university’s IT department.
Providing wi-fi to tens of thousands of students is an extremely complicated task, so different university IT departments will have different policies regarding personal router use.
Keep in mind that IT departments monitor wi-fi on-campus, so you might get in trouble if you install a router without getting proper authorization. Always call or email the IT department ahead of time, and if agreeable, they might even offer to help you install your router.
Navigating college life can be exhausting for new freshmen. Luckily, most dorm rooms offer ethernet connections, so internet connectivity should not be one of your main concerns.
If you’re trying to secure the fastest and most reliable internet in your dorm, try the following:
- Bring an ethernet cable with you to use wired internet.
- Install a personal router in your dorm for faster speeds.
- Save your high-bandwidth activities for off-peak periods.
- Get a wi-fi adapter for your computer.