Summer is almost over and thoughts turn to school. This is another area where the computer is a huge help. Weather you are sending the little ones to elementary school or older children to college you need to start getting ready. Now is the time to fire up the word processor and start making a list of what needs to be done and marking off each item as they get done. One thing parents often forget despite many written and phone warnings from school is to make sure all the kids shots are up to date (No shots, no school). Get these done and keep an encrypted (TruCrypt) copy of these shot records on your computer. All personal records should be kept in encrypted files. You don’t want to worry if your computer is stolen or compromised. Your Anti-Scumware is up to date isn’t it? Don’t forget to put Anti-Scumware on the children’s systems. The rest of this article will be referring to college for simplicity sake unless stated otherwise but most of this information applies to all school preparation.
First off you need to find out what kind of computer and software is needed for school. Some types of classes will require a PC (Business) while others may require a Mac (Graphics Design) and as a result certain software. Check with the school bookstore for discounts. For the most part any computer will do. If the student will be staying in a dorm you may want a system that can act as an entertainment system. You should make sure that a backup system with automatic back-up to the cloud is installed. You don’t want any lost assignments or term papers. Skydrive (Microsoft’s free online storage) would be ideal for this. A three terabyte USB external hard drive from Amazon.com for local back-up could also be setup in addition to the online back-up. A third backup should be DVD or CD. You can never have too many types of backup. On the PC you could use the built in backup and restore center to set up automated backups. The MAC has similar capabilities. Don’t forget a few flash drives for moving files to other computers or even to a printer (And more backup). I recommend setting these things up yourself to make sure all is set up. Kids have a tendency to put things off and this could mean a big disaster. A lost thesis means a lost grade.
If the student isn’t required to have a specific word processor then I recommend LibreOffice. This free office suite (which you can get at download.com) has an ideal word processor called LibreOffice Writer. Just make sure it is set to the .doc format by default since this is compatible with Microsoft Office and as a result will be usable on any computer. You don’t want to turn in that assignment on a flash drive and the instructor not be able to read it. I have seen this happen to others and they weren’t happy with their grades. The Professor doesn’t care about broken down computers, printers or corrupt files. As far as they are concerned their class is the most important class you have and the others are of little or no concern to them. They will tell you should of thought ahead and gotten the work done sooner. I have had my printer break the day of class. Have a backup plan (I did) for such emergencies.
Go over the Student Syllabus of each class which you can usually get at the school web site as this will tell you what is required in that class. Each class will have different requirements. You found out what books were required and now you head over to Half.com and get those books for much less then you will be able to at the school bookstore. Don’t forget the used book market as you can often find good deals for those books (AbeBooks Official Site – New & Used Books, New & Used Textbooks, Rare & Out of Print Books). At the school bookstore you can get the needed Scantrons (The correct size please) or other forms the school requires. Don’t forget Pencils, Paper, Binders, Rulers and the other needed sundries.
This may seem obvious but know the route the student will be taking as well as an alternative to allow for traffic concerns. You can get this information at Bing maps. In most schools if you miss the first day of class you will be dropped and your spot filled by whoever is next on the waiting list. The school doesn’t care of your traffic problems. This is how it will be in the real job world also. Give yourself plenty of time to get to class since just as at your future job it is better to be early rather then late. This also applies to children going to elementary or high school. If they are taking a bike to school make sure it is in working order and has a good lock and make double sure they know the combination or have the key when they leave the house. Make sure the college student’s car is also in good shape. Now you have a good basic list now get to work before it is to late. Good luck.