5 Reasons Every Student Should Be Using a Chromebook

Dan Price 06-06-2017

We already know Chromebooks are perfect for elderly people who struggle with technology, and we already know they make a great second laptop for people who do a lot of traveling. But they are also ideal for college students.


It’s hardly a revelation: Google has been focusing on their classroom benefits for a long time. Chrome OS now controls 49 percent of the U.S. education market — a 40 percent rise in less than four years. The platform was responsible for 58 percent of new devices shipped to schools in 2016. In contrast, iOS now controls just 14 percent of the market, down from 27 percent in 2014.

But why are Chromebooks so popular? If you’re a college student who wants to buy a new laptop, will a Chromebook be right for you? Here are five reasons why Chromebooks are perfect for students.

1. You’re Protected Against Theft

One sadly reality of college life is there’s a good chance you’re going to get things stolen.

Student accommodation isn’t as secure as a typical family home in the suburbs. Several people have keys and individuals are constantly coming-and-going. Lots of students live under one roof, each with their own trove of expensive gadgets. And many students are living away from home for the first time — they’re typically more naive about security than their elders. It’s an intoxicating mix for thieves.

If the worst transpires and your Windows or Mac laptop gets stolen, what happens? Firstly, you’ll probably pay significant out-of-pocket costs. Secondly, you could lose years worth of work and research. (Be honest, how often are you making regular backups of your data?)


recovery laptop system
Image Credit: REDPIXEL.PL via Shutterstock

The loss of all your work could be life-changing. If it happens at the wrong time of year, it can lead to failed exams and dropped credits. Bad news.

But if you have a Chromebook? It’s not bad news at all. They’re almost entirely cloud-based. By default, all your data is being saved into your Google Drive account — you won’t lose anything. In fact, you’ll struggle to find more than 32 GB of local storage, even in the top-end models.

Sure, it’ll be annoying if your laptop gets robbed, but you can be up and running again almost instantly on any web-connected device. No downtime, no stress.


2. They Are Easy to Replace

Student life is rough on gadgets. Aside from the risk of theft, your laptop will be taking a physical beating. You’ll be throwing it in your bag every day, heading to rowdy bars with it in tow, and presumably working in less-than-ideal conditions when you’re doing stuff at home. (How many half-drunk Coke cans and empty chip packets are on your desk?)

Laptops don’t like such rough conditions. Screens will break, keyboards will jam up, and hard drives will fail.

Because of the risks, you need something that’s inexpensive and easy to replace. Chromebooks tick both the boxes.

best buy chromebooks


Firstly, they are cheap. Really cheap. You can find older low-end models for around $110, and a typical mid-range new laptop isn’t more than $250 (often less than $200).

Secondly, if you need to buy a new machine, all you need to do is enter your Google credentials and give the laptop a few minutes to sync, and you’ll be back where you left off. All the same apps, all the same settings, all the same files.

3. They Are Lightweight

I touched on this in my previous point: you need something you can throw in your backpack and easily carry around all day. And when it comes to weight, Chromebooks are the clear winner.

Let’s look at some facts.


Apple’s controversial 2016 MacBook Pro (13-inch model) weighs 3.02 pounds. The Dell XPS 13, which is widely considered to be one of the best Windows laptops of 2017, weighs 2.7 pounds. Even the recently-announced Surface laptop, which Microsoft hope will be a Chromebook killer 5 Reasons Chrome OS Is Better Than Windows 10 S Microsoft has launched a new operating system – Windows 10 S. But is it good enough to grab a share of Chromebooks' ever-increasing market share and propel it into homes and classrooms around the country? Read More , comes in at 2.76 pounds.

ASUS Flip 2-in-1 C100PA-DS03 10.1-inch Touch Chromebook (1.8GHz, 4GB Memory, 32GB eMMC, Google Operation System), Silver ASUS Flip 2-in-1 C100PA-DS03 10.1-inch Touch Chromebook (1.8GHz, 4GB Memory, 32GB eMMC, Google Operation System), Silver Buy Now On Amazon

And Chromebooks? There are at least 15 models that weigh less than the Dell XPS. Some models, such as the Asus Flip C100, are as light as 1.6 pounds. That’s less than half the weight of a MacBook Pro. (If you’re a student who already has a MacBook, you can at least take comfort in the great Mac apps available for students.)

4. You’ll Save Money on Apps

Another reality of student life is you’re going to be broke all the time. It doesn’t matter how many part-time jobs you try and juggle or how often you eat Cornflakes for dinner. You’re never going to have any money.

As such, every little way you can save money is a bonus. And these days, one of students’ biggest outlays is on apps.

Thanks to Chrome OS, you won’t need to spend money on some typical apps you might need as a student. Instead, you’ll find free equivalents that are deeply integrated into the operating system. For example, many students might rely on Evernote ($3.99 per month for unlimited devices) for taking notes in lectures, but the free Google Keep is a powerful alternative with lots of hidden features.

Similarly, why spend $9.99 per month for 1 TB of Dropbox space when you get 100 GB of Google Drive storage for free for two years with the purchase of every Chromebook?

And of course, thanks to the potent combination of Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets, you won’t even need to spend money on productivity suites like Office 365. Google’s products even save all your work continuously and automatically — you won’t be the one crying in the corner because you got a “blue screen of death” just as you were about to finish your thesis. If you insist on the Microsoft products, you can use the web apps for free.

And if you need to take screenshots for class or a project, you can take screenshots on Chromebook Taking Screenshots on a Chromebook: A Quick and Dirty Guide Just got a new Chromebook and wondering how to take screenshots? Here's how to take a screenshot on Chromebook, and more! Read More without any extra tools.

Lastly, remember all new Chromebooks now have access to Android’s Google Play Store. If your favorite apps are available on mobile, you can easily use them on the desktop as well.

5. Multiple Usage Modes

The average student in the U.K. has just over $2,500 of tech. Do they really need all that? Probably not.

For example, some Chromebooks now have 180-degree swivel hinges. It means you can remove the need for a tablet entirely Chromebook vs. Tablet: Which Is Right For You? Need a new portable computer? Chromebooks and tablets are both good options. But which is best for you---a Chromebook or a tablet? Read More . Do all your college work with the machine in laptop mode during the day, then flip the screen back to watch a movie (or cram your revision) in bed later. It’s a cheap and durable two-in-one device.

Because Chrome OS is based on the Linux kernel, you can also install Linux distros How to Install Linux on a Chromebook Here's how to install Linux on your Chromebook so you can start using other apps like Skype, VLC Media Player, and more! Read More and dual boot your machine. It’s the perfect workaround if an app you need isn’t available on Chrome OS natively. You can have all the benefits of Chromebooks, but still enjoy a broad range of installable software.

Caution: Chromebooks Aren’t for Everyone

The five benefits I’ve listed in this article all suggest Chromebooks are ideal for students. But as always, there will be cases in which they are not the right choice.

You may prefer another browser that helps you be a more productive student 7 Ways the Vivaldi Browser Helps Students Get Better Grades Can your browser make you a better student? The Vivaldi browser may just make you think so with its features. Read More , but you can’t swap out Chrome on a Chromebook.

If you’re at college, much of the decision will rest on what subject you’re majoring in. If you’re doing a predominantly essay-based course, such as English or History, you’ll hardly ever need to work on another OS. However, if you’re doing a technical course such as engineering, you may still need access to a traditional Windows or Mac machine that can run specialist software.

Remember, as long as your college has good Wi-Fi, you can rely on a Chromebook when you’re on campus and use Chrome Remote Desktop to connect to your fully-fledged desktop.

Are You a Student Without a Chromebook?

Are you currently in high school or college? If so, what do you use for portable notes and apps? If you aren’t using a Chromebook, why not?

I’d love to hear your stories. What do you like about them? What aspects of use a Chromebook do you find to be appealing or frustrating?

And if you need another option, check out these high-quality laptops for students The 7 Cheapest High-Quality Laptops for Students on a Tight Budget Finding a high-performing, affordable laptop is tough. Here are the best laptops for students that don't break the bank. Read More or the best student laptops under $400 All the Best Laptops Under $400 for Students A budget laptop is more than enough for most people these days. But which one should you buy? Read More . Whichever Chromebook you end up buying, be sure to protect it with one of these rugged Chromebook cases The 7 Best Rugged Chromebook Cases Got yourself a Chromebook? You'll want to protect your hardware with one of the best rugged Chromebook cases. Read More .

Image Credits: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

Related topics: Chromebook, Students.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Draken
    February 20, 2020 at 12:25 am

    I don't really like chromebooks because of the lack of power, and Chrome OS isn't really appealing to me. They are just so restricted and lack the freedom of windows and Mac OS. I am currently using a Razer Blade Stealth 2019 and I think that it is Awesome!

  2. Tom Bridges
    June 19, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    thanks for helping me to understand them better, i might go for one now

  3. Diana Adams
    January 19, 2018 at 4:19 am

    My niece received through her school this laptop. I got on it and found even person who is not computer friendly can use it. I wish I could buy her one that just could keep at home,

  4. programagor
    June 7, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    A bit of a dissonance you've got going on. First you say "Every Student", and then in the actual article you say "Caution: Chromebooks Aren’t for Everyone". As an engineering student, I could possibly run MATLAB, Wolfram Mathematica, and LaTeX via cloud, but I also need GCC, NASM, AVR-dude, nmap, and load of other programs that just won't run off the browser window. Also, when I'm buying a computer, why should I pay for one which can only browse the internet when, for a similar price, I can get an actual computer which can run full Linux? I know I can install Linux on a Chromebook, but then what's the point of getting one in the first place?
    Also, you refer to a "connect[ing] to your fully-fledged desktop", but isn't it cheaper to just have a single fully-fledged laptop instead? It's an article focused at students after all, and students don't tend to be able or willing to just buy as many computers as they'd like. Yes, the chromebooks are cheap, but they are pretty weak computing power wise.
    All your other arguments in the article are just a matter of software anyway, and shouldn't determine your choice of hardware. Any computer can run Google Drive / Docs / Chrome.

  5. jmrwiseguy
    June 6, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    One problem I ran into with chromebook is that I couldn't find an easy way to print to a printer that is on my local home network. Maybe things have changed recently but it would only let me print to a cloud printer. Both Windows and MacOS find network printers easily.

    • Tim
      June 6, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      Local printing was indeed missing from Chrome OS until a few months ago, when the feature was rolled out to the "stable" branch of the OS (it had been "in beta" for a while before that).

      Oddly, though, USB and network printing isn't enabled by default, and you have to dig a bit to find the option to turn it on. Enter chrome://flags into the Omnibar, and search for "Native printing", then select "enable". Use the "restart" option they give you, and on reboot you should find a new "print" option in the Settings area.

      COS is still a bit "flaky" with finding network printers, but I managed to get my Chromebit printing to our HP network laser printer. Hopefully Google will roll out improvements to the feature, though I suspect they'd still rather we use Cloud Print :-P

      Hope this is helpful :-)

      • Bdodroid
        June 6, 2017 at 9:19 pm

        In the newest beta on my Samsung Chromebook Plus I can actually specify drivers(32bit linux drivers worked for mt konico bizbub) and add network printers pretty easily. I still need to know the IP address of the printer unfortunately but other than if works really well.

      • Jmrwiseguy
        June 7, 2017 at 1:46 am

        Thank you, that was very helpful!