Students can’t always afford to buy laptops. Some schools help students obtain brand-new machines, but even then, their use is not free: Most schools charge hefty fees for computer maintenance, software updates, Internet access and so on. The result is that many students continue to rely on older, incompatible PCs.
What to do: Encourage schools to waive the fees for new computers by providing laptops directly to needy students, says Don Thomas, the senior policy adviser at CompUSA, a computer and electronics store. (Thomas’ efforts have brought about a handful of laptop giveaways in recent years.) Another option is to put donated laptops in the hands of charities and distribute them.
Yet one problem with donating machines: Some charities are left to pick up the pieces if a computer is donated after the condition has deteriorated.
Students, for example, often use software that is decades old, and the bits and bytes simply no longer work. Colleges, meanwhile, are developing systems to prevent campus computers from dropping off the grid, and students are frequently not informed when their computers die.