Is iPad Enough For College?

Last Updated on April 12, 2023 by Ernests Embutnieks

We often hear this question: Does a student need a laptop, or is an iPad 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.

Some Questions To Ask Before Getting iPad For College

For most courses out there iPad is sufficient enough to finish school, but in some cases, it’s not enough. To avoid this problem, ask yourself these questions and make sure to get answers:

  • Can you complete all of your coursework just with an iPad?

Some classes require specific software or applications that may or may not work with your iPad. This information can usually be found on your college website under requirements.

  • Does the iPad meet your preferences?

iPad is great. Everyone will tell you that. But most people use iPads for entertainment. When you need to get stuff done, it’s a different story. You have to keep in mind iPad has a smaller screen, smaller keyboard, etc.

  • Are you willing to pay more?

iPad itself isn’t more expensive than MacBook, but if you buy Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil, Paperlike screen protector & other accessories, the price goes up by quite a bit.

Disadvantages & Advantages of choosing iPad

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

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.


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 think 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.


MacBook Air (2022)2.7lbs
MacBook Pro (2022)3.0lbs
iPad Pro1.03lbs
iPad Air1.02lbs
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.

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:

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.

Best Value For Students
iPad Air
  • OS: iPadOS 16
  • CPU / GPU: M1
  • Storage: 64 / 256 GB
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Camera: 12 MP Wide (Rear), 12 MP Ultrawide (Front)
  • Display: 10.9 inches
  • Resolution: 1540 x 2360 (~264 ppi)
  • Weight: 1.03 lbs
  • Port: USB-C
  • Battery: 10 Hours

Read More about which tablets are the best for students: Best Tablets For Students

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
  • 120Hz Screen

Overall, of course, iPad Pro offers a lot more, but most students don’t need theses features. This is why we recommend iPad Air for most students since it offers the most value for the money.


There’s always this massive 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.

Can you finish college just with an iPad? It depends on the course. We recommend checking your school’s website and reading the technology requirements. Every school needs to provide this information.

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 iPadOS.

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 Closest to Laptop?

iPad Pro 12.9-inch M2 is the closest to a laptop in terms of functionality and performance. You can get an additional keyboard to make it more like a laptop, which makes a lot of tasks easier to perform.

iPad also has additional features like support for monitors, support for external drives, and the ability to use multiple windows, and it has a stage manager.

Overall, iPad Pro is the closest model to a laptop.

Related Articles:

Why Do All Medical Students Have An iPad?
Apple Pencil Compatibility List
Best Tablets For Note-Taking

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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.