Every student entering college will need certain tools to complete their education. Software is often overlooked or taken for granted with all the iPhone apps available, but some pieces of software are crucial for all students and mandatory for students of graphic design or film and video production. Having a robust word processor, spreadsheet program, graphic program and web browsing programs is crucial in conducting research and writing papers in a timely manner.
Microsoft Office or Open Office – Every student needs a quality word processor and most business majors will need to work with spreadsheets and databases, Microsoft Office contains the worlds standard with Word and Excel, but also contains a lot of other quality programs in their Office Suite for students like Note. The best way to get Microsoft Office is by bundling it with a new computer purchase or else it can get expensive starting at $121 for the student version.. Low on funds but still need a quality word processor and spreadsheet, then download Open Office for free. The latest version of Open Office has closed the gap further on Microsoft Office and is a great alternative for those of us on a budget.
Adobe Photoshop or Gimp – Photoshop is the world standard graphics program, capable of churning out award winning graphics and easy enough to learn and master for just about anyone. Adobe Photoshop is also on the expensive side, definitely worth the price of $650, you’ll never regret buying Photoshop if you do a lot of graphic design work for your major, but if budget is an issue, try Gimp, the free Photoshop alternative.
Adobe Premiere or Avidemux 2.5.3 – Premiere is the leader in non-linear editing (NLE). The latest version of Adobe Premiere CS5 has raised the bar once again on stability, quickness, compatibility and export settings to start your own post production house. For those of us that can’t afford the pricey Premier CS5 ($729), a free very simplified NLE software package is Avidemux 2.5.3 which will allow you to edit and encode most file types and burn to a DVD with ease and simplicity.
Skype – Having software that will allow you to contact family and friends while on campus for free is invaluable. The latest version of Skype allows for you to make conference calls with up to three other people, a great way to have a group study without meeting up and a great way to see all your family at once.
Google Chrome – This may seem like a no-brainer but having the right browser can save you enormous amounts of time over a school year. Google Chrome is more stable, less vulnerable, and just more efficient than any other browser. Firefox and Safari are a distant second and Microsoft Explorer with all its security flaws should really be removed from service.