“Is iPad enough for students, or do you also need a laptop?” That’s a question I hear a lot.

It depends. Schools/Colleges usually provide information about what technology is required. You must ensure that iPadOS is compatible with your school’s requirements.

are ipads enough for students?
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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 incompatible with the iPad. These cases happen. You need a backup plan. Either get a backup laptop or use the school’s library computers.

Some Questions To Ask Before Getting an iPad For College

For most courses out there, an 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.

  • Will you can access to a laptop?

Sometimes, your plans may hit a snag, and you might require software that doesn’t work on an iPad to complete your homework. In such cases, it’s a good idea to check if your school has public computers you can use. If not, consider having a backup laptop ready just in case.

Pros & Cons of iPad for Students

  • Portable & Lightweight: easy to carry around campus or when studying on the go.
  • Versatility (2-in-1): iPads can work as a laptop and a bigger smartphone. Can be used for a wide range of tasks, from note-taking to web browsing, e-books, multimedia consumption, and some productivity applications.
  • Cellular Connection(LTE): You can buy an iPad with LTE. This guarantees you an internet connection at any place, you don’t need to rely on WiFi.
  • Apple Pencil: you can take handwritten notes on your iPad.
  • Comfort: it’s very convenient to read school material on your iPad (eBooks). In general, it’s more convenient to consumer media on an iPad than on a laptop or smartphone. 
  • Software Limitations: iPads may not support specific software required for certain courses, which can be a significant limitation.
  • Smaller Keyboards: While external keyboards can be used, typing on an iPad may not be as comfortable or efficient as a laptop or desktop computer. (the keyboards are smaller, the trackpad is smaller and they have no function keys.)
  • File Organization: File management can be more challenging on iPads, especially when dealing with many files.
  • More Expensive: iPads can get more expensive than MacBook Air. If you get the best specs, Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard, Screen Protectors, etc. 

MacBook vs. iPad (Price)

For students the functionality isn’t the only decision driver, it’s also about the price, so let’s take a look at price and other aspects.

MacBook Air (2022)$1099
MacBook Pro (2023)$1599
iPad Pro $799
iPad Air $599
iPad $449
iPad Pro(Magic Keybord+Apple Pencil 2)~$1147
iPad Air(Magic Keybord+Apple Pencil 2)~$947
iPad(Keybord+Apple Pencil 1)~$747
Student Prices from Apple

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

iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard, 1TB storage and Apple Pencil is more expensive than MacBook Air. If you add a screen protector and some case on top of it, it’s even more pricier.

You might get by without an Apple Pencil, but you definitely need a keyboard because in college, you need to write, and you need to write a lot.

iPad Magic Keyboard is expensive, but you can get some much cheaper alternatives.

Key Differences

  1. Operating System:
    • iPad: Runs on iPadOS, a mobile-focused operating system that’s optimized for touch and stylus input.
    • MacBook: Runs on macOS, a full-fledged desktop operating system designed for keyboard and mouse input.
  2. Form Factor:
    • iPad: Compact and lightweight, with a touchscreen interface and support for Apple Pencil for note-taking and drawing.
    • MacBook: Laptop form factor with a physical keyboard and trackpad, suitable for tasks requiring more typing and precision.
  3. Software Compatibility:
    • iPad: Runs mobile apps from the App Store, including productivity and creative apps. The software has limitations.
    • MacBook: Compatible with a wide range of macOS applications, including professional software and development tools.
  4. Processing Power:
    • iPad: Powered by Apple’s custom processors, capable of handling a variety of tasks, including multitasking and gaming.
    • MacBook: Equipped with more powerful processors suited for resource-intensive tasks like video editing and software development.
  5. Multitasking and Window Management:
    • iPad: Offers multitasking features, but managing multiple apps is more streamlined and limited compared to macOS.
    • MacBook: Provides robust multitasking with resizable windows, making it easier to work with multiple applications simultaneously.
  6. File Management:
    • iPad: Uses the Files app for file management, but the file system is more closed and integrated.
    • MacBook: Offers a more traditional file system with easy access to files and folders.
  7. Price Range:
    • iPad: Typically available at a lower price point compared to MacBooks.
    • MacBook: Generally more expensive due to higher performance capabilities and features.

Top iPad Choices For Students

There are a lot of differences between iPad models.

Best ValueiPad Air
Power UsersiPad Pro

Suppose you don’t intend to work with high-demanding processing apps like Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. I would recommend choosing the iPad Air. It’s the midway option. Honestly, most students don’t need the processing power that the iPad Pro offers. You can easily get by with iPad Air.

iPad Air – Best Value For Money

Best Value For Money
iPad Air
  • OS: iPadOS
  • Processor: Apple M1
  • Storage: 64 GB / 256 GB
  • RAM: 8 GB RAM
  • Camera: 12 MP (Wide) / 12 MP (Ultrawide)
  • Display Size: 10.9 inches
  • Resolution: 1640×2360 (~264 ppi)
  • Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
  • Weight: 1.02 lbs
  • Port: USB-C
  • Battery: 9-10 hours
  • Stylus Included?: No 

The iPad Air is an excellent choice for students. Its powerful performance, sleek design, and portable size make it ideal for studying, note-taking, and research on the go. With its support for the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, you can easily take handwritten notes and complete assignments efficiently.

In short, the iPad Air is a versatile and reliable tool that can greatly enhance a student’s academic experience. And I believe it’s the best choice from value and price perspective.

iPad Pro – Best For Power Users

For Power Users
iPad Pro
  • OS: iPadOS
  • Processor: Apple M2
  • Storage: 128 GB / 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB / 2 TB
  • RAM: 8 GB / 16 GB
  • Camera: 12 MP (Wide) + 10 MP (Ultrawide) / 12 MP (Ultrawide)
  • Display Size: 11 / 12.9 inches
  • Resolution: 2048×2732 (~265 ppi)
  • Refresh Rate: 120 Hz
  • Weight: 1.50 lbs
  • Port: USB-C
  • Battery: 9-10 hours
  • Stylus Included?: No

iPad Pro offers top-of-the-line performance, a stunning display, and enhanced features like Face ID for security and the Apple Pencil for precise note-taking and drawing(not included in the price).

Its powerful hardware enables smooth multitasking, making it perfect for running demanding apps and editing projects. The larger screen size provides a more immersive learning experience, especially working on creative projects. With its versatility and productivity-focused features, the iPad Pro is a fantastic tool to support students in their academic endeavors.

It’s without a doubt more powerful device than iPad Air, but in my opinion, 9/10 students don’t require this performance from their iPad. This is why I put iPad Pro as a second pick. It’s just extra spending on things a student won’t require and won’t use.

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 to most students since it offers the most value for the money.

iPad – Budget Pick

Budget Pick
  • OS: iPadOS
  • Processor: Apple A14 Bionic
  • Storage: 64 GB / 256 GB
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Camera: 12 MP (Wide) / 12 MP (Ultrawide)
  • Display Size: 10.9 inches
  • Resolution: 1640×2360 (~264 ppi)
  • Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
  • Weight: 1.02 lbs
  • Port: USB-C
  • Battery: 9-10 hours
  • Stylus Included?: No 

iPad It offers a good balance of performance, affordability, and functionality. With its powerful A14 Bionic chip, it can handle most educational tasks and apps smoothly. The 10.9-inch Retina display provides a great visual experience for reading, note-taking, and multimedia activities. It also supports the Apple Pencil (1st generation and Apple Pencil USB-C) for precise writing and drawing.

However, one drawback is that it lacks some of the advanced features found in higher-end models, such as a laminated display, which may not be essential for most students but could be worth considering depending on individual needs and preferences. Overall, the iPad (10th generation) is a reliable and budget-friendly option for students.

The biggest drawback in my opinion, is the non-laminated screen on the classic iPad. Besides that, it’s a solid choice for most students.

What About iPad Mini?

iPad Mini is a powerful device. Don’t get me wrong, but we’re talking about the best tablets for students. do you really want to write a 2000-word essay on an 8-inch screen? Do you really want to take notes with Apple Pencil on an 8-inch screen? You can do that, of course, but it’s a hassle. We don’t generally recommend this for most students.

But if you think it’s enough take a look at the iPad Mini 6 review.

Conclusion: Will an iPad Be Enough For Students?

There’s always this massive debate between iPads and Laptops. Are iPads enough for college? 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. I 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. If not iPad is enough for college.

Related Articles You Might Be Interest In:

Best Tablets For Students (Some Alternatives to iPads)
Apple Pencil Compatibility List
Cheaper Apple Pencil Alternatives
What Storage iPad Student Needs?

ernests embutnieks wolfoftablet
Founder & Chief Editor | +37122300405 | ernests@wolfoftablet.com | + posts

I'm a writer and editor in iPads & Android Tablets, Windows Tablet section. I'm passionate about technology, especially about tablets. I'm on a mission to assist people in discovering their ideal tablets. In addition, I'm dedicated to producing helpful how-to guides and sharing top-notch tips and tricks. In my early carrier I founded and became and editor at worldoftablet and have been a guest author at many other tech blogs. In wolfoftablet I'm focusing on iPads, Tablets, Apple Pencil, Apps, Reviews, Buyers Guides and Tablet Accessories. In free time I like to play games on my PS5 or iOS.