Preparing for College

Back to School for Grown-Ups

I've often daydreamed about going back to college, knowing what I know now (which may be even less than I knew then!). Why do I daydream about this? Well, other than to kill time until Seinfeld comes on, I often wish that I would have the time to truly luxuriate in the comfort of higher education, where a learned professor would guide me through the peaks and valleys of some subject that annoyed me when I was a 20-something, doing just about all that I could to get through those required courses with the least possible effort. Examples: German, Anthropology, Religious Studies, Math . . . You get the picture.

Anyway, my roundabout point here is that many adults today are making the actual trek back to college, be it via community college, online, or with a full dose of a four-year (or longer) undergraduate degree program. Are you one of this rapidly growing demographic? If so, especially those of you who will be doing most (if not all) of your class work over the Internet, you'll need to be prepared. That's the point of my post today.

So, what kinds of equipment and accessories might the well-equipped adult college student need these days, especially cyber students? Here are five suggestions:

1. Computer – A top-performing computer can make online learning far more efficient. If you're in the market for a new computer, check out Consumer Reports September issue, which features 36 top computer choices, including a 13-inch notebook that weighs just four pounds.

2. Online Planner – Organization is key to a successful college experience. Check out online templates for planners and see which model works best for you. Here are some places to start:

--Microsoft Office templates for weekly planners, homework assignments, long-term assignments and more at

--Keep and Share online daily planners at

--Online Student Planner at

3. Portable Laptop Desk – One upside to a laptop is that you can use it virtually anywhere, like a couch or an airplane. A downside to this versatility, however, is that it can result in poor ergonomics. Avoid back and neck aches with a portable laptop desk that can shield your lap from the heat and support the weight of the notebook.

4. A List of Nearby Places with Free Wi-Fi – Do your research so you know which local coffee shops, libraries and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi. Not only will they offer you an alternative to your home office, but they will also make great meeting places for study groups.

5. Traditional Supplies– Don't forget that traditional school supplies are still necessary. Be sure to stock up on old standbys like pens, pencils, highlighters, and, of course, paper for your printer.


Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.