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The following is a list of common questions CIT staff is asked. Please note that these are our recommendations only, and that there is no single answer that applies to everyone. Your technology experience, field of study, study habits, financial situation, and the location of your residence will all play a part in deciding what is best for you.

If you have more questions, you can e-mail or call us at 616-395-7670.

Do I need to bring a computer to Hope?

Nearly 100% of Hope students own their own computer.

If you are not sure about bringing a computer, you might want to try our labs during your first semester and see if they will meet your needs. Hope has 18 general use labs with just over 200 computers and each lab has a laser printer. Several more department specific labs bring the total of lab computers to more than 300.

Should I buy a laptop or a desktop?

The vast majority of Hope students own a laptop. There are many advantages to a laptop such as the smaller size and portability.

One thing to keep in mind is that while laptops are convenient for you to transport, that also makes them a target for theft. While those on Hope's campus generally do not have problems with theft, laptops left unattended or in unlocked rooms are always targets. Therefore, we encourage everyone with laptops to avoid leaving them unattended and to always lock your residence hall door when you leave.

Windows or Mac?

All of Hope's public computer labs run Windows and most faculty have a Windows computer in their offices. Therefore, you may want to bring a Windows system for the greatest compatibility. However, there are many Macs on campus too, and there is a great deal of compatibility between Windows and Mac these days.

What make or brand should I buy?

Hope College buys HP computers for desktops and Toshiba computers for laptops. We've found both to be high quality, reliable systems at a decent value. Of course, there are several other good manufacturers as well, including Dell, and Apple. Our experience has been that purchasing from a large, name brand company provides for a more reliable, more easily serviced system. In general, we advise against locally-built and "home built" computers, as they're not always full tested for compatibility, and can present service and support problems down the road.

If you'd like to see some specific models that we recommend, visit our Personal Purchase page. Although primarily focused toward faculty and staff purchases, the systems on this page would also be very appropriate for student use. Of course, you can always contact us to talk about specific questions or details.

"How much" computer do I need? What specifications?

In general, your time at Hope won't require you to have a "high end" computer in order to complete your studies. The most popular use of personal computers are for Internet access (including e-mail), typing papers, and creating presentations. Almost any new computer sold today will more than suffice for these tasks. Even if you plan to do things like photo or video editing, almost any new computer will be fine.

So what about the numbers? How much is enough? Here's some general technical recommendations:

  1. Get at least 2048MB (2GB) of RAM. Unless you're into gaming or commercial-type photo/video editing, in which case you'll probably want more.
  2. For Windows computers, there's often a choice between several processors. While their technical design makes some perform faster, all are very fast, and for most applications you probably won't notice a difference.
  3. Some manufacturers offer the option of including Microsoft Office with your purchase. While your best route may be to include this program with the new computer, be sure to read the "Programs" section below first to make sure you're getting the right features and the best deal.

Connecting to the Internet: Wireless Ethernet or wired?

All residence halls and academic buildings now provide wireless Internet access.  Laptops, tablets, and most other mobile devices will already have the necessary equipment included.  If you have a desktop computer, gaming console, or other equipment that you're planning to connect to the Internet, you'll want to be sure it has the ability to use wireless.  Depending on the device, you may need to acquire an add-on or optional component to provide this functionality.  Check with the manufacturer for more details.

To facilitate the installation and expansion of wireless in the residence hall, the hard-wired ports that were previously installed in each room have been disabled.

Click here for details on how to access the wireless network at Hope College. You will need to provide your Hope College email username and password to proceed.

What programs should I have installed?

Hope provides hundreds of computers in labs for student use. Some are setup for basic Internet access and word processing. Others are more specialized, with high-end (and expensive!) programs tailored to specific disciplines. Most students use their personal computers for writing papers, reading e-mail, surfing the Internet, and for entertainment. When the need arises for a specific program for class, they'll go to the appropriate lab where that program is installed. That way, they don't have to buy the program themselves and have it take up space on their computer. For this reason, the one suite of programs that we recommend for personal computers is Microsoft Office, especially a version that includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. All of the computer labs have these programs, as do all professors' computers (Windows or Mac). Using these programs will be the most seamless way to submit assignments, correspond and collaborate with others, and move files from one computer to the other. When shopping for Microsoft Office, make sure that you're getting a version that includes PowerPoint, as it's used extensively for creating presentations.

Some computer manufacturers offer discounted copies of Microsoft Office with new computers. Microsoft Office is available for free to enrolled Hope College students, staff, and faculty. Check out our page on Office 365 for more information.

Antivirus software is essential. Microsoft provides free antivirus software to all Windows-based computers. Take a look at our anti-virus information page for more details.

Do I need a printer?

This is entirely a matter of personal preference. Each residence hall has a black-and-white laser printer in its lab (usually located in the basement) and students can setup the computer in their room to print to it. Click here for instructions. There is no cost for this, but there can be a bit of a walk to the printer. There's also the option to save your file to a disk or memory stick, then print them in a lab. For more convenient printing or color capability, some students choose to bring their own color inkjet printer for their room.

Still Confused? More questions?

Feel free to e-mail (, call (616-395-7670), or stop in at CIT (Durfee Hall, 110 East 10th Street). We're always happy to answer questions and help you figure out what will work best.


© 2015 Hope College | Computing and Information Technology | 110 E. 10th St. | Holland, MI 49423 | phone: 616.395.7670 | fax: 616.395.7807