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Frequently Asked Questions

This Guide describes Drexel's academic computing programs and provides information on how to select and buy a personal computer for use while at Drexel. Computers configured for use in college are different from basic home computers because the needs of higher education are more rigorous.

Must I have my own personal computer to complete my coursework?

Yes, since 1983 Drexel University has had a policy that each student must have personal access to a computer in his/her place of residence -- whether in the residence hall, apartment or at home. This has been identified as a requirement for success in Drexel's academic program and for success in the professional world as well. Over time the computer has become a more vital and necessary educational tool and the importance of this requirement has grown.

While the University provides a number of computers in public access areas, their availability is limited; they are intended to supplement your computer rather than replace it. The ability to access a computer to complete work at any time of day or night is essential to keeping pace with Drexel's quarter system and the increasing academic standards within individual courses.

If I already own a computer, do I need to purchase a second one?

Maybe. Drexel's requirement is that you have personal access in your room to a microcomputer. Should you already own a computer that meets current market and industry standards, you may be able to delay your purchase at this time. It is likely, however, that you will have to purchase a more powerful new machine, comparable to those Drexel recommends, at some time during your study.  Tablets such as iPad or Galaxy are not recommended as primary computers and are not considered replacements for a Windows PC or Mac.

What kind of computer configuration does Drexel recommend?

The  computer equipment marketplace changes rapidly. IRT makes general recommendations of specifications for new laptops and desktop computers. For many majors either Windows or Mac OS are acceptable; however, there may be particular academic software packages which can only run in one platform or the other (such as Dreamspark Visual Studio, ProEngineer and AutoCad on Windows and FinalCut on Mac OS).

Before buying a new computer, students may check for college-specific requirements issued by the college in which they are enrolling.  Westphal College of Media Arts and Design publishes its own specifications by major. 

What computer brands does Drexel recommend?

Dell, Lenovo, and Apple are among the many vendors that sell computers meeting Drexel's requirements. Drexel prefers that you purchase these brands because you can depend on the quality of the goods and after-sale service that they offer. The higher-education contacts below offer special discounts for back-to-school purchases.

Link to Vendors

Will a desktop or a laptop system be better?

Notebooks, Netbooks and tablets make it easy to work anywhere. Further they can take advantage of DragonFly, Drexel's wireless network, to access the campus network and the Internet without wires from virtually the entire campus. Desktop systems usually offer a lower entry price point.  Note that newer tablets such as iPad or Galaxy are not replacements for a production Windows PC or a Mac.

You may want to read Microsoft's comparison document, Choosing the Right Computer or Mobile Device for You.  Although the information there is Windows-focused, the concepts can be applied to Macintosh desktops and laptops as well.

What software will I need; what does Drexel provide for me?

University computer labs are equipped with software necessary for classes held in them, but you will need some software for your own computer.

Drexel supports Microsoft Windows 7 or Apple OS X. Anti-virus software is critical. Drexel provides Sophos EndPoint Antivirus protection at no charge. There is no need for you to buy anti-virus software with your computer. Often, the programs bundled with new computers are only updated for 3-12 months; Drexel's free version is updated for as long as you are at Drexel.

The anti-virus and academic software licensed for you by Drexel is available on our secure software server.

Depending upon your choice of major and elective coursework, you may need to purchase additional software during your time at Drexel. The university has discount agreements for purchasing productivity software such as Microsoft Office, Apple iWork and Adobe products, with two academic software resellers, eAcademy and JourneyEd. You can shop the full catalogs of these vendors via DrexelOne; choose the "Drexel" tab and look in the Hardware and Software section.

How will I use my computer while I'm at Drexel?

You will use your computer as both a labor saving device and a tool for exploring ideas. You will use it to write reports and presentations, to record and analyze data, to participate in online courses, simulate lecture demonstrations and laboratory experiments, retrieve bibliographic and Internet information, and much, much more. Some of the work on the computer will be assigned to you, but you will also find uses for this educational tool on your own. You will probably use it when you go on your co-op assignments. You will come to depend on it extensively and regard it as a necessity.

Am I required to bring my computer to class?

Drexel doesn't require all students to bring a computer to class. However, you may want to anyway so that you can take notes, work on assignments, and have access to the Internet via Dragonfly. This may be particularly attractive since all of the classrooms and lecture halls are equipped with wireless networking. If you need to use a computer during class time, your instructor will schedule your class in a room equipped with computers.

How will I use the Internet, ResNet, Dragonfly?

Drexel makes extensive use of the Internet and its own networks to facilitate communication between students and faculty, to register for classes and obtain grades, for research, education and personal use. To aid this, the University expects that all students will be able to access the Internet. Students with laptop computers should ensure that their computer includes an Ethernet adapter and compatible wireless network card, preferably Dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n at 5 GHz.) The top speed and security require 5GHz. Desktop computer users should ensure that their computer includes an Ethernet adapter and Ethernet cable. These recommendations hold true for both residents and commuters.

Dragonfly provides secure wireless network service from any place on the Drexel campus. Dragonfly makes the most sense for laptops since portability and wireless access are a great combination. More complete information about our wireless network is available at the DragonFly site.

ResNet provides each student in the residence halls with his or her own wired, high-speed network connection. This wired Ethernet network is available in each room of the residence halls, one station per student. Even though Dragonfly wireless network service is provided in the residence halls, students should expect to use their Ethernet connection while in their rooms, as it provides a much faster connection than wireless. Students provide their own Ethernet cable.

Off-campus users must have an account with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to access the Internet.

Why should I buy these systems when I see less expensive ones advertised?

Drexel has worked with these vendors to establish price-competitive, pre-configured bundles that meet the standard of quality necessary for use throughout the University during your college career. The prices represent across-the-board higher education pricing for universities. The same basic systems chassis could be configured with less memory and storage space, slower processors, and poorer quality monitors, with a correspondingly lower price. For the most part, machines with comparable features have comparable prices. You should find that the systems recommended here will have competitive prices of comparable computer packages advertised in newspapers or on television because of discounts that have been made available, where possible, to Drexel students. Comparison shopping is always recommended.

Can I finance my purchase over time?

Dell, and Apple offer installment plans for students attending college. For more information, call the vendors or visit their web sites.

Can I get an extended repair warranty for my new computer from The Computer Fixer?

Yes, most computers sold today have the option to extend the manufacturer's hardware warranty. It is best to purchase this extended warranty when you are buying the computer system. Some computer vendors will not allow you to purchase an extended repair warranty after you have purchased the equipment. Some extended warranties offered are "on site" coverage and some are "carry in" hardware repair warranties. Before you buy the extended repair service contract check to make sure that there are computer repair companies near your residence that will honor the service contract once you purchase it.

The Computer Fixer offers "carry in" and "ship in" extended hardware repair warranties on existing equipment beyond the original equipment warranty. Computer Fixer is located in room 007 in the basement of the Korman Computing Center, and the phone number is (215) 387-5900. If you wish to purchase extended hardware repair warranty on your existing equipment, understand that the equipment will have to be brought in for a "bench test" before the extended warranty can be purchased. There will be a fee for the bench test if your computer's original equipment warranty has expired.

Shall I buy a computer now so I can get used to it before classes begin?

You will want to have your computer set up and ready to bring to campus with you in the Fall when classes begin. If you will be a resident student, you will bring the computer with you when you move in. From our past experience, the computer package features and pricing structure tends to be at the most favorable to the consumer during summer. Keep in mind that the websites we have provided in these FAQs are vendors with which Drexel works, provide higher education pricing and a direct interface for Drexel students. They keep their site information up to date with their current offers. The choice of precisely when to purchase is ultimately yours.

Do I need a printer?

The Korman Computing Center, Hagerty Library and other departments provide laser printing for a fee. However, Drexel recommends that students purchase their own printers to ensure access at any time. A good-quality ink-jet printer can be purchased for less than $100. Drexel has had good success with printers from Lexmark, Hewlett-Packard, Canon, and Epson. Our listed vendors, Dell and Apple, can sell you a printer when you buy your computer.

Who can I call for more information?

Drexel has set up a special phone number and email address for issues regarding computer selection. The telephone number is (215) 895-5855. The email address is computer@drexel.edu.