Are iPads Enough For College?

Last Updated on September 14, 2022 by Ernest

We often hear this question – does a student needs a laptop, or iPad is enough? It depends. Schools/Colleges usually provide information about what technology is required. You have to make sure that iPadOS is compatible with your school’s requirements.

But in most cases, the iPad is enough. You can take notes on it, with a keyboard or with an Apple Pencil, you can write your essays on it, you can do your research on it, you can save files on it, pictures, exchange files, send emails, everything that is required to finish college with excellence.

The only thing you should be worried about – is if you are required to use software that’s not compatible with the iPad. These cases happen. You need to have a backup plan. Either get a backup laptop or use the school’s library computers.

MacBook vs. iPad

It’s an important decision – buy an iPad or buy a MacBook. Let’s compare each aspect and let’s discuss the pros & cons.

Price

DevicePrice
MacBook Air (2022)$1099
MacBook Pro (2022)$1199
iPad Pro $749
iPad Air $549
iPad $309
iPad Pro(Magic Keybord+Apple Pencil 2)$1147
iPad Air(Magic Keybord+Apple Pencil 2)$947
iPad Air(Keybord+Apple Pencil 1)$547
Student Prices from Apple

Apple offers students a discount – read more about it here.

If you compare the prices and you thought it might be cheaper to buy an iPad – think again. The Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil make iPad just as expensive as MacBooks. You might get by without Apple Pencil, but you definitely need a keyboard because in college, you need to write, and you need to write a lot.

Weight

DeviceWeight
MacBook Air (2022)2.7lbs
MacBook Pro (2022)3.0lbs
iPad Pro1.03lbs
iPad Air1.02lbs
iPad1.07lbs
iPad Pro(Magic Keybord+Apple Pencil 2)2.38lbs
iPad Air(Magic Keybord+Apple Pencil 2)2.37lbs
iPad(Keybord+Apple Pencil 1)2.01lbs

Portability is important. And iPad is a lightweight device, especially if you don’t need extra accessories. The Magic Keyboard is even heavier than the iPad itself.

Pros & Cons of choosing iPad

ProsCons
2-in-1 laptop & tablet (with keyboard)Research & writing is easier on a laptop (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Google Sheets, etc.) These apps are limited.
Apps, games & better overall entertainmentKeyboard(it’s smaller, no function keys, the trackpad is smaller)
Apple Pencil (handwritten notes, drawing)File organization(it’s much more convenient on MacBooks)
Reading is very convenient(eBooks)Full setup iPad Pro is more expensive than MacBook Air
More convenient to consume mediaExternal monitors don’t give you a good aspect ratio
LTE(cellular connection)It might not be compatible with the school software.
Better designOnly 1 USB-C port (you can get a USB c hub)

What If You Need a Laptop?

In most scenarios, you will be able to get things done with an iPad, but what if you need software or a program that is not compatible with iPadOS? I know people from personal experience that have gone through college just with an iPad, and I asked if they ever had a problem where they needed a laptop.

Turns out these situations happen, but every school & university has its library where you have access to computers. These situations can happen, and you should find out have to get access to your school’s computers.

Ideally is if you have a backup laptop somewhere at home.

Which iPad Is The Best For Students?

We can go into a lot of details, and I would have to write a whole new article to discuss all the differences, but in short:

Budget-PickiPad
Best ValueiPad Air
Power UsersiPad Pro

If you don’t intend to work with high-demanding processing apps like Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. I would recommend choosing iPad Air. It’s the midway option.

What Does iPad Pro Have That iPad Air Doesn’t?

  • Better Speakers
  • Better Display(Better Colors)
  • Face ID
  • More Storage Options/More RAM Options
  • LiDAR
  • 12.9-inch Screen Option

Summary

There’s always this huge debate between iPads and Laptops. Should you get this or that, which one is better, etc.? Each device has its own pros & cons. You have to know them in order to make a decision which is best for you. I’m not here to influence you to buy one or the other. I’m here to give you the necessary information so you can make your own decision.

It’s a hard decision. If you go to any university, you will see so many iPads and so many MacBooks. I feel like every medical student has an iPad. What works for them might not work for you.

If you’re in certain majors, e.g., Engineering or Computer Science, I wouldn’t ‘t recommend getting an iPad over a MacBook. You will need a lot of software that’s not compatible with iOS.

Founder & Chief Editor | + posts

I love tech and all about it. I'm interested in finding ways how they can make my life more productive, and I share my knowledge with my blog readers. I'm an iPad Pro, iPhone, MacBook, and Apple Watch user, so I know a thing or two about these devices and try to write helpful content around these topics.