We have read many different articles on what a high school or college student should have for school. So, we figure we might as well weigh in on this topic as well.
Laptop computer: Even if your child is not taking a laptop to class, this is the most needed electronics that a student should have in both HS & College. While in high school, we recommend going with something fairly inexpensive. Buying an expensive computer during high school can be a huge waste of money, as the laptop is only going to be used for writing papers, doing research, checking emails from teachers, and watching videos from teacher website.
Once your child is ready for college, the type of laptop is based on what the student is taking. You want to be sure that the laptop is a) lightweight – he will be carrying it to classes, and b) has the capabilities to handle the software that will be used in classes. While every college has software loaded on library computers for students to use for assignments, if the student is going to use the software a lot, it is most likely better to get a laptop that can handle it. For example, an engineering student or a graphic artist is going to need a laptop that accommodates the software that those fields use all the time.
Cell phone: Yes, your high school child needs a cell phone. The term “Cell Phone” is really an outdated term. What you are actually purchasing is a mini tablet computer that happens to run a telephone app. Save yourself some money and get one with a good digital camera. I purchased my last cell phone because I needed a camera, not a phone. But, it was cheaper to have both in a nice small package than to lug around a camera. Unless you are studying photography or it is a passion, no one needs a professional camera. But, everyone should have a cell phone by high school. Kids have so many activities they belong to and the easiest way to know where they are and when they need you is through a cell phone. As for college students, it is a given. Their teachers will text them, students will plan study groups and on & on. Plus, what a great way to stay in touch with your child. Just remember to text, not call. If you call a college student they will think someone has died. Text them that you will be calling them so as not to freak them out.
I do not believe a student needs a tablet as long as they have a smart phone & a laptop. I probably see more elementary age children with tablets than high school & college students. Unless your child can really give you a good reason for a tablet, I’d say no.
Extras: Besides tablets, other electronics items that teens & college students like to have include headphones, portable speakers, TVs and a good car radio. These are great Wish List items for the holidays but certainly not a “Back to School” necessity.