Printers: The Bane of College Students’ Existence. Image courtesy of Flickr user WilliamHook and licensed under CC 2.0 BY-SAAs everyone is gathering up their belongings to get ready to go back to school, there are a few things that students debate about bringing. Your gaming system? Hell yes. Your entire DVD collection? Probably just a few of your absolute favorites. That horribly ugly sweater your weird aunt gave you for Christmas last year? Pass.

But what about a printer?

Honestly, just about every college student can survive without a personal printer. In fact, for most, it’s easier and less expensive to use the university printers. Colleges should (I say “should” since I have, in fact, only printed at one college) have a fairly good and reliable printing system. They’re well-aware that students are printing all kinds of review packets, homework, and papers. Printing with university printers will cost you a small sum, but it usually isn’t a terrible fee. At Trinity, it costs about $.09 per page, so unless I’m printing a twelve page essay (which I occasionally do), it’s not even going to cost me over a dollar.

Using university printers also release you of printer responsibility and maintenance. It is a pretty well known fact that printers suck. They run out of ink, paper, and the will to print far too often and are just generally a pain in the ass. However, if you just use the university printers, you don’t really have to deal with any of the shit that a printer gives you. If a university printer decides to be a bitch and ceases all printing operations, sure, you’re annoyed and disgruntled, but you don’t have to be the one to fix it. You can just move on to the next printer and print your stuff with that one. You don’t have to buy ink, you don’t have to buy paper, and you don’t have to slam your head into the wall every time your printer sends you an error message.

In addition to the wonders of using university printers, we all know at HackCollege that college is progressively embracing the digital world. Duh. Soon, printers and hard copies of essays and other homework may be completely obsolete. In some of your college classes today, your professors may not even require a printed version of papers and prefer you to simply email them your work. While this is another reason to not have your own personal printer, most professors will probably prefer hard copy versions of your work and so you’ll still need to have a way to print most of your stuff.

If you can manage to get by without having your own personal printer, I would highly recommend it. It’s easier and requires less work on your part. However, for some students, having a personal printer is actually beneficial. While I use the university printers for most of my major printing needs, I actually do have my own printer that I use from time to time. If you’re a student who doesn’t plan on writing a lot of long essays (science, math, computer majors, for example), I would totally recommend not bringing your own printer. However, for those students who write paper after paper all semester long (English, history, communication majors, for example), I find it useful to have a personal printer. After I’ve written a paper, I like to print it from my printer and edit it with a pen in my room. I’m already in the writing mood and I feel like leaving my room, going to the library, printing my paper, and walking back to my room kicks me out of the working groove I have going on.

However, whether or not you’re writing papers or just printing homework, if you decide to make the commitment and bring a printer to college, there are a few things you can do to help keep your printing stresses to a minimum. First, if you’re printing a paper to edit, either print it double sided or print it on the back of old papers or homework. It cuts down on the amount of paper you buy. And it’s also earth-friendly, and we happen to like the earth. Second, when buying ink, look for ink that comes in recycled cartridges. Instead of buying brand new cartridges, you can buy cartridges that have already been used but have simply been refilled with ink. They’re about half the price and work just as well. Finally, if you’re going to print a large document, use the university printers. It’s better to use the university ink and paper than your own for large review packets or essays.

One rule of printing that you should always keep in mind is that you should never leave printing to the last minute. Printers, even university printers, are very sensitive and usually choose to mess up when you need them to work the most. Deal with printer issues the day before your paper is due and not the hour before.

Do you have your own printer or do you prefer to use university printers? What would you recommend?