Computer software and hardware needs vary depending on a student’s chosen major. For example, not all journalism majors need to own a copy of Adobe Photoshop or InDesign, but students majoring in photojournalism will want to own Photoshop and those majoring in graphic design will want to have a copy of InDesign. Advertising undergraduates may be able to do the required multivariate analyses with a simple spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel, but more advanced undergraduates and graduate students will need a copy of SPSS or SAS for data analyses.
Because of these varying needs, we suggest you do not buy specialized software for your computer until you actually begin taking classes in the College of Journalism and Communications. Things change quickly in the software business and often there are various versions and upgrades available for specific software packages. In some cases, the college or the university may be able to offer you a lower price for a required software package than you can obtain on your own.
You do, however, need to have a basic suite of software applications at the time you enter the college to do word processing, electronic mail, Web browsing and even basic data manipulation. We suggest Microsoft Office, which includes Word for word processing, Excel for spreadsheets and PowerPoint for presentations, but you may choose any mainstream suite of applications you prefer as long as you can turn in your assignments in whatever format may be required by a faculty member. More and more, such software is available online without purchase or download.
Please see the computer/equipment requirements for your major:
Computers are an integral part of the educational experience at the College of Journalism and Communications and virtually every other discipline at the University of Florida. They have become an indispensable tool, just as the typewriter was to journalists, broadcasters, advertising executives and public relations practitioners of the past.
That’s why the university has required that all undergraduate and graduate students must have access to a computer. The cost of this computer will be included in financial aid considerations.
The university has asked each college to determine its own computer requirement. To that end, the college’s Technology Committee has, in consultation with each of the departments, set general requirements for students who plan to major in any area of study within the College of Journalism and Communications.
You will find the requirement below, but be aware that things in the computer world and in the educational one are constantly changing. Therefore, the requirement is an evolving thing. You can expect it to change as the power, price and quality of computers change and as the needs of students in the college change. We suggest you check back here frequently before obtaining your computer, and that you delay any purchasing or leasing decision until shortly before your official admission to the College of Journalism and Communications.Official admission usually comes at the beginning of your junior year or when you begin a master’s or doctoral program.
For further technical information, refer to the:
For financial information, contact:
The college’s official policy on student computers is as follows:
“Computer requirements vary by major and may be updated. In general, students can expect to need access to and ongoing use of a near state-of-the-art computer capable of Internet access, printing to paper, and running recent versions of software for word processing, graphical Web browsing, database operations, statistics analysis and presentations. Many students, depending on course of study, will need computers capable of audio/video editing, desktop publishing, digital photo editing, and Web design.”
What does this mean?
It means it is likely you will need daily access to a virtually new, fairly powerful computer with Internet access and printer at the time you are admitted to the College of Journalism and Communications in your junior year or as a new graduate student.
In most cases, we recommend an Apple Macintosh portable computer, but we stop short of recommending whether you lease or buy. What’s important is that you can do the assignments given to you by the faculty in your various classes and that you can submit them in the format specified by your professor—on paper, on disk, on flash media or via the Internet.
Desktop, Laptop, Netbook or Tablet?
Laptop computers have become powerful enough in recent years to do almost anything that a desktop computer can do. We expect that students in most disciplines in the university eventually will be required to have access to laptops because of the ease of bringing them along to classes. There is very significant expense involved in maintaining and continuously updating general-use computer labs, so it is likely that fewer and fewer open computer labs will exist on campus in the future, and those that do exist may offer only network hookups, electric power and printing facilities.
Our general advice is to buy a laptop computer that is light enough to carry with you every day (i.e. 6 lbs or less) but powerful enough to edit digital video. Some students may choose to supplement this portable computer with an external keyboard and a larger, LCD monitor that you can plug in at home. Another advantage of the laptop computer is that Weimer Hall and the college are integrated with the UF wireless network, allowing wireless Internet access from almost anywhere in the building. Most Gainesville area apartment complexes also offer wireless access.
If you’re buying a laptop, it’s wise to purchase the largest amount of RAM and the largest capacity hard drive, installed, that the computer manufacturer offers. Inadequate RAM and hard disk space are very common factors in computer obsolescence.
While “netbook” (or ultraportable) computers and tablets offer many conveniences and may be suitable for some tasks that a student may be asked to perform, they also have significant limitations that make them inappropriate for use as a student’s primary computer as of this writing.
We recommend that you buy or lease a name-brand computer with quality parts and components, seek as long a warranty as possible, and that you inquire about the company’s repair policies and turnaround times. You will need your computer nearly every day, so weeks in the repair shop will be unacceptable. You may be able to get significant discounts if you already are a student when you buy computers and software.
Windows or Macintosh?
At this point in time, we generally recommend Macintosh computers because Apple machines based on the Intel chipset can run both the Macintosh operating system and the Windows operating system. Apple machines also are more expensive, but we think it’s a reasonable tradeoff. Regardless of the type of machine you get, it is your responsibility to turn in assignments in a format specified by your professors. The College of Journalism and Communications has a local area network of some 400 machines wired to the Internet and the university via high-speed Ethernet links. Some of those machines run Microsoft Windows and some run the Macintosh operating system.
College Computer Labs
Equipping, maintaining and upgrading computer labs is a constant struggle. The college currently maintains computing labs in which students can do specialized work such as digital photo, video and audio editing. We also have labs in which students can do word processing under faculty supervision to create time-sensitive documents such as news stories. These labs generally are in continuous use and therefore available to you only during scheduled class time.
You can expect to be required to do all of your assignments and computing outside of college labs unless there is a reason for you to work with a computer under faculty supervision or unless certain specialized software or hardware is required to complete the work.
We don’t expect every student who takes a beginning photojournalism class, for example, to buy a high-end photo-editing software package such as Adobe Photoshop. If this type of specialized software is needed on an occasional basis for a class, it is the college’s intention to provide scheduled lab access as long as resources allow. However, we cannot guarantee that there always will be enough lab computers for every student, or that we can schedule any open lab periods where students can work outside of scheduled class periods.
Our computer labs currently offer access to the Internet, to Lexis-Nexis and to the Microsoft Office suite of software, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. We also have computers equipped with Adobe CS5, SPSS, Final Cut Pro, and other applications needed for computing under faculty supervision. World Wide Web access is available, but students cannot expect to use lab computers for electronic mail.
Printing generally is available in various labs on campus for a nominal fee.
Should I buy or lease?
The college is acutely aware of the financial burden that any computer requirement places on students and their parents. We also are aware of how fast computing needs are changing and how fast technology is advancing; a new generation of computers is introduced, on average, every 18 months. Further, experience has shown us that many students come to the university expecting to follow a course of study but change their minds — and their majors — somewhere along the way.
With the various colleges, departments and even major courses of study having differing computer requirements, leasing a computer or even renting computer time may be a reasonable option.
It is up to you whether you buy, lease, share, rent, borrow or otherwise gain access to a computer. However, it will always be more convenient to have a computer whenever you need it than to depend on a friend or rent computer time at a purveyor’s convenience. We strongly discourage sharing a computer; you really need your own.
Changes in the Requirement
We try not to change computer hardware requirement frequently, but we can make no guarantee. This document will be reviewed at least semi-annually, in November and April, and may change at any time.
Students should plan to acquire a new machine as they enter the college in the junior year or as graduate students. Such a machine should be adequate for the two years most students spend in our programs. We will try not to make changes that will require a student to acquire a new machine during that period.
Software requirements will change frequently. You can generally expect to need the latest versions of the software required in your various classes. However, it is up to individual faculty members which software packages and versions they use. You may wish to avoid making any special purchases until after the first class meeting.
Required Computing Skills
Incoming students are expected to have developed touch-typing skills and competence with computers and software before entering the College of Journalism and Communications. You are expected to already know how to use software for word processing, Web browsing, Internet access and the like. You also are expected to know how to operate your own computer and provide for its maintenance. Keeping your machine and its software in good running condition is your responsibility. College personnel will not help you fix your computer or install software, and faculty are not obliged to accept any computer-related excuses for late or missing assignments.
When specialized software and hardware is used in classes taught in college computer labs, faculty will help you learn to use it.