You'll Be Expected to Have a Computer and Printer, or Access to Them
The first thing students should know about using computers at college is that their professors will expect them to have computers and printers, or at least access to them. While we realize that not everyone can afford a computer and printer, we do expect your work to be typed and handed in when we ask that of you. Most schools have several computer labs. If you don't have a computer or printer, you are going to have to make it your business to use them. If you have a written assignment due, do yourself a favor and make sure you can hand it in. Having no printer or low toner is not an acceptable excuse, and if you try to use one of these conditions to excuse not having your work, it could affect your grade.
Turn off Internet Explorer and Log Off Myspace
When you are using computer for school work, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to log off the Internet. Instant messages and e-mails are much more fun than homework, but if you succumb to their temptations the night before a paper is due, you will be kicking yourself at 4:00 in the morning when the paper's still not done and your e-friends are all in bed.
Google.com is No Substitute for the Library
If, while you were reading the above section, you found yourself screaming: “But what if I have to do research?" you are probably not alone. You will probably have a library tutorial in at least one of your classes that will go in-depth with what I'm about to say: the computer is a wonderful, powerful tool, and so is the Internet, but when your professors assign research projects, they do not expect to see a works cited page full of web links. Therefore, in response to your earlier question about research, I'll say that before you sit down to write your paper, most of your research should have been done. At the library. If you need to look up one quick thing on-line, do so, then log off and get back to your Word document.
Buy a Travel Drive and Use It
While computers are wonderful and powerful tools, they are also unreliable. More than one of my students has experienced hard drive failure over the course of my teaching career. I do my best to be accommodating and understanding - the same thing happened to me in grad school, after all - but even with understanding professors, coming back from a loss of everything you've done over the course of the semester is hard if not impossible. Invest in a flash drive, and back up your computer with regularity.
Take a look at more industry related articles by Elizabeth Saas at CareersandEducation.com Elizabeth Saas is a frequent contributor with articles pertaining to using Distance Learning and Career Advice .