Elliott School Laptop Requirement FAQ

The Basics:

Who? All Elliott School communication majors are required to have a personal laptop computer.

What? Personal laptops are a personal choice. We prefer Macs because of their durability, long lives, and connections to the industries our students typically work in. Students should, however, choose whatever laptop they wish, keeping mind that you should buy the most powerful machine you can afford with as much RAM and as large a hard drive as possible. Your laptop will need to run certain high-end software like Adobe’s page design, photo editing and (possibly) video editing software.

Where? Students should bring their laptops to all ESC classes. Enhanced wireless access and additional power availability will be added to the building over time. If your laptop needs a charge, we recommend spending some time in our reading room on the second floor where there is ample power and good WiFi coverage available.

When? If you are registered in a 300-level or higher Comm class and are a declared Comm major, you should have a laptop.

Why? This requirement reflects the nature of communication work in the 21st century. Communication industry employees are not simply 9-5 workers chained to their desks. They are self-contained communicators who can take their work with them, can work in small groups and can present their work product to others at any moment.

How? Laptops can be affordable, but they also can be very expensive. They are, however, a required tool of the trade as a student and as a communication employee. The good news is that our laptop requirement is an opportunity for you to get something you need anyway since required laptops can be included in your Cost of Attendance for financial aid. Since we require a laptop, you can visit with the WSU Office of Financial Aid about re-evaluating your financial aid eligibility to include the laptop purchase.

Other questions?

What about non-majors who take our courses? While our research indicates that non-Comm majors are just as likely (90 percent or better) to have their own laptop already, we will leave a few computers in classrooms where courses that enroll non-majors are held.

What about printing? Our instructors already limit the amount of required printing in ESC courses (it’s a digital world, after all). If you need to print, though, we make a printing service available through the front desk in Elliott Hall 102. Ask Bill about it.

Who will provide technical support? If you have questions about purchasing hardware, we will help you, but if you have basic technical support questions, there are many resources outside of Elliott Hall that you can consult. We recommend Googling the problem first. Then contact the support services for your hardware or software companies. Then, there is the university Help Desk available by phone at 978-HELP.

What software do you need? That depends on the course. For most courses, the software that comes with your computer will suffice. Apple’s Pages, Keynote, Numbers, GarageBand, iPhoto and iMovie are free, for example, with a new Mac. Windows computers also come with many free software packages. There are free “Office” alternatives for both Mac and Windows as well. One piece of software you may need is Adobe’s Creative Cloud, which includes Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere Pro and many other industry-standard tools. Adobe offers discounted yearly subscriptions to those tools to students. Visit Adobe’s Web site for information.

What specific hardware requirements are there? The only requirement is that the computer you choose should run the software that you’ll need for class. We love Macs. Any Mac laptop will run all of the software you will need. The Windows world is a little trickier. Generally speaking, though, you will not be happy with the performance of a bargain basement ($300) Windows laptop. Whatever you choose, try to include as much RAM (4GB is good, 8GB or more is better) and the largest hard drive you can find. Questions regarding the capabilities of specific laptops are probably a good topic for some Internet research.

Is there anything else I might need? You might consider purchasing an external hard drive for backup and long-term storage. There is nothing worse than losing your work due to a laptop failure. Backup your work! In addition, you might want to buy a large (4GB or bigger) flash drive ($10-$20) for sharing files with fellow workgroup members. There are a great many free online file storage options like Copy, Dropbox, Box, etc. And finally, you may want to purchase an extended warranty for your laptop. AppleCare, for example, is about $200 but covers the computer for 3 years (long enough to graduate!)