With the current speed at which technology is changing, any post about the subject will eventually become dated. Despite this fact, it’s still important to address this issue for new MBA students; how you incorporate technology into your life will definitely affect your success as an MBA student.
Below I’ve collected several of the technology related tips that I’ve found useful over my two years at business school. One of the major themes I’ve harped on is going digital. You’ll still probably still be reading at least a few physical books and print outs in the near term, but the trend is clearly changing. It’s better to embrace this trend now rather than fight against it. In general, I would also recommend that you try as many new things as possible. You never know when you’ll come across that killer app or service that greatly improves your life.
I’ve separated this post into two parts: first I will discuss general technology tips and in the second post I will address some of the online services I recommend.
Buy Discounted Software From Your School
Most large academic institutions have licensing agreements with major software publishers that provide volume discounts to the student body. Since you’re going back to school, it makes sense to stock up on premium software. For example, here at UCLA you can buy Adobe Creative Suite 6 for only $209. In the normal marketplace, this software costs over $1,000.
Buy an External Monitor
I’ve always found it surprising how many students simply use their laptop screens when they get home from campus. Having an external monitor greatly increases your efficiency. This is especially true if you need to conduct complex spreadsheet analysis, research a topic across multiple tabs, or take notes while watching a video.
Additionally, flat screen computer monitors have become significantly cheaper over the past few years. You can easily get a large, high-resolution, widescreen monitor for under $200 from Amazon. I bought my HP monitor during a Black Friday sale.
Backup Important Files Every Quarter or Semester
Having a backup of your work is something you don’t value until your computer actually crashes. As an MBA student, you’ll be constantly carrying your laptop around campus and working in several different locations. Because of this, your computer is more prone to accidents and data loss is a real possibility. One colleague of mine left his water bottle slightly ajar before tossing it in his backpack; this ended up completely wiping out his computer.
Don’t make the mistake of being unprepared. Back up your files at least once per quarter or semester. If you’re already using Dropbox or Google Drive, the backup process is really easy and should only take a few minutes.
Buy an Apple or Lenovo Laptop
It’s hard to tell precisely, but I’d guess that 90% of business school students own either an Apple or Lenovo laptop. Apple obviously has its own following on college campuses and since Lenovo Thinkpads are really popular in workplaces, people leaving work for business school tend to buy Lenovo laptops as well. Having the same laptop as a fellow classmate makes life much easier when you need to share a power cord or troubleshoot your system.
Buy a Tablet
In our current state of technology, it’s important to note that a tablet is still a luxury, not a necessity for business school. However, the benefits a tablet does provide are notable, so if you have the money, I would definitely recommend buying one.
A tablet allows you to complete all of your readings digitally. The majority of books are available in an electronic version and your course packs will be in PDF format. Therefore with every reading you complete, all of the highlighting you made and the notes you entered can be saved electronically forever. You’ll also do a great service to the environment by saving hundreds of pages of printouts. During class, if the professor allows it, you can also use your tablet with a stylus as a digital notebook. Finally, a tablet is simply a great video player. Whether you’re on a long road trip, folding laundry, or working out at the gym, the experience is simply better if you can binge watch your favorite TV shows. I personally bring my tablet with me every time I go to the gym and have watched nearly every episode of Suits and Breaking Bad.
In terms of tablet brands, you really can’t go wrong buying either an Apple iPad or Samsung Nexus 10. Your choice between the two is really going to depend on how comfortable you are with the Apple ecosystem. Since I’m not really an Apple person, I bought my Nexus 10 during my second year and have truly enjoyed it. One disadvantage of going with Android is that there are a lot of shady accessory providers you have to wade through, so if you’re also planning on buying a Nexus, I’d recommend the Snugg leather tablet case and the SUPCASE clear screen protector. These are the two accessory providers I went with and they work perfectly with my tablet.