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Getting Your Computer Ready for School

Back when I was a student, everyone packed up their portable typewriter for the move to campus. Lots of people got a new typewriter as a graduation gift, but I didn't. I ended up using one we bought when I was in high school.

The story is probably the same for you, except that it's a computer, not a mechanical typewriter.

Whether you just bought a new one or kept your old faithful companion with all of its stickers, you need to do a few things to get the machine ready for college. (As an added bonus, if you are still locked down when you are reading this, taking positive steps to get ready for the Fall semester will help you feel a lot better—and you'll start feeling like a college student.)

Getting Old Faithful ready for college

  • Back up the really important stuff. (Your only picture of Uncle Ed, the school addresses of your buddies, and so forth.) A flash drive is a good place to store this kind of thing. If you have a Gmail account, you have space on Google Drive. That's another good place to store backups. Computers crash at school. Computers get stolen. There are some things you don't want to lose.
    • Note for later: Recent Apple updates (I don't know about Windows) delete your stored passwords as a security measure, so you need to figure out and remember your passwords for such things as Gmail.
  • Clean house. Go through all those files and ask yourself whether you really need that homework from your first Junior semester in high school.
    • You might like to delete or hide some of those embarrassing photos.
    • And that desktop image.
  • Update your operating system. You should do this after the housecleaning, and it will take a looooong time, so set up your computer to do it before you go to bed.
    • Everyone: This process takes a long time and uses a lot of power, so don't do it on battery. Plug the computer in.
    • Apple users: Click the little picture of an apple in the upper left corner of your screen. Then choose "About This Mac." Choose "Software Update." You might get a list of items to choose—you want all of them. If the screen says "No Updates Are Available," congratulations: you are done!
    • Windows users: Follow the instructions in this link. If you get to choose which things to update, you want all of them.
  • This one should be obvious: If the computer is giving you trouble, get it to a repair shop before you get to school.
    • A very common cause of computer problems is virus infections. (You just had to download that fancy screensaver, didn't you?) Deep breath—bite the bullet—pay the computer repair people to clean it up for you.

Free stuff everyone needs

You will be using a Learning Management program called Blackboard, and you will be typing and uploading your papers, so here are three free resources you will need.
  • Google Chrome Web Browser. (Blackboard works best with this one)
  • Microsoft Word. (You don't have to pay because you are a student.)
  • Google Drive. Because you are an Ashland University student, your email address is a Gmail address, and you have unlimited space on the cloud server, Google Drive. (The University pays for the extra space.)
    • By the way, you might get a desperate-sounding email message telling you that you have to do something because your Google Drive and/or Gmail space is full. These are frauds! Just delete messages like this. You will never get an email message from the University asking for your password or telling you that you ran out of Google space.


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