Maybe you are different than me, but I am a self-admitted gear guy. I like having the newest and most hyped gear I can. This makes any major change in my life difficult because I naturally lean toward wanting to go and get new stuff to “help” me with my new venture.
Going to graduate school presented a challenge in this area. Getting a distance degree gave me the ability to attempt to justify a lot of technology purchases in the name of making things easier. Do I need a new computer? What will help me organize? What do textbooks look like in distance education?
I am trying to go the minimalist route for now and it has been a struggle, but it has been a good experiment.
For the most part, any computing device is fine for my graduate assignments. I have been known to work on my personal laptop, computer at my employment (after hours of course), and my chromebook all with no issues at all. Ecampus makes it easy to log in and have everything at your fingertips. Combine the ecampus platform with Google Drive’s suite of tools and you really only need a web browser to do your work.
To keep from driving my wife crazy listening to my classes, I have highjacked some old ear buds we had laying around the house. While I can feel the audiophiles cringing as I type this, they get the job done. I also do not feel bad putting them in my pocket just in case I get a free minute to work during the day.
The issue of textbooks is still an issue currently. One of my textbooks is hosted by the publisher and will not allow you to access it outside of their specific platform. I am stuck in that particular situation because I have to be at an internet connected device to be able to read. My other textbook was rented through Amazon, and they are a bit easier to access offline. My one purchase so far is a used Amazon Kindle. This always allows me to carry my rented textbook with me and utilize the spare minutes in my day productively.
Other than my kindle, which is awesome, I have not purchased anything of note for graduate school. This is a complete departure for my educational experiences of the past. I felt like I went on a spending spree and I paid for it in the end.
The bottom line is that there are a ton of ways to spend your money. Decide early what makes sense to buy and what makes sense to pass. If you are in a relationship, does it make sense to ask your partner their thoughts? Make sure you are weighing you desire to consume with your actual needs for graduate school. Odds are you do not need as much stuff as you think you do.
--- R. Tyler Horner
R. Tyler Horner is a Masters student in the College of Education & Human Development