For the first time, incoming freshman will have a choice which laptop the University will provide them.
According to the University’s Information Technology department, there will now be three options for students to choose from, including two styles of the typical Lenovo Thinkpads that have been offered since the laptop program began and a new MacBook option for an additional co-pay of $400.
Kenneth Mahlmeister, the executive director of User Services for IT, said that St. John’s has been evolving the laptop program since its start in 2003.
“Every year, the laptop program has evolved, every year we solicit feedback from the students in different forms, in the fall and in the spring,” he said.
Mahlmeister said that last year student feedback indicated that the Lenovo models being handed out were too heavy. Maura Woods, the associate vice president of IT, said that some of the feedback showed that students were not happy being limited to one laptop.
“Last year, we looked at three different models and asked students to test them,” she said. “They thought that the choice alone would be a better option.”
The new program allows all new students to the University to register for their laptops through UIS, selecting which package they would like. So far, according to Mahlmeister, more than 100 students have made their selections.
Woods and Mahlmeister cited feedback from the Fine Arts and Communication Arts departments as reasons for bringing in the MacBook option.
Macbooks come with programs like Garage Band, Photo Booth, and iMovie that are unique to the Apple product.
“If we’re going to offer a choice, we should offer a Mac,” said Woods. “We’ve always had a relationship with Apple, this was a matter of expanding on that relationship.”
Another addition to the laptop program is the inclusion of the new and optional Accidental Damage Protection program, available for any student who chooses one of the two Lenovo options.
This new program allows students to pay a $49.00 one-time fee for a three-year coverage plan against any accidental damage that may occur during usage. If damage occurs, students with the Accidental Damage Protection program can bring their laptops to the University’s on-site Laptop Shop for repair.
Woods and Mahlmeister stressed that this will bring the cost of fixing students’ laptops, since they only have to pay the one time fee.
“One of the issues students were having was accidents and keeping up with the maintenance,” said Woods. “Now everything is covered.”
Students who choose the MacBook option will be covered under Apple’s AppleCare Protection plan, a warranty provided by the company. Any repairs can be made through the Laptop Shop or at Apple Retailer or authorized Repair center.
So far, IT has not made any plans to include current University students in the new program.
“Right now we’re focusing on the new students,” said Woods.
She acknowledged last year’s laptop upgrade, which allowed current students to trade in their old laptops for a newer version and was not met with an enthusiastic response. This has prompted the department to hold off on creating a similar plan for the new options.
“We haven’t really investigated whether we can pull something off like this for the upperclassmen,” she said. “We’ll try it this year and if it goes well, we’ll continue.”
Karen Vahey, the director of admissions, has said that there has been an active response from the incoming students, not just those who have already selected their laptops.
“The buzz is really just starting,” she said. “This makes my job much easier because it makes students more excited about coming here.”