I’m pretty sure iTunes Alarm lets you think whatever you want, though. Image courtesy of Flickr user murdelta. Licensed under CC BY-NC-2.0If you’re not naturally an early riser, you generally have two options for waking up in the morning: a dedicated alarm clock, or a cell phone. Neither of them is ideal. Alarm clocks are bulky, difficult to find outlet space for in a dorm room, and thrown off by dorm power outages. Cell phone alarms can be muted if they slip under a pillow, and are at risk of being shut off due to a dead battery or a force closed alarm app.

So, what’s the sleep college student to do? This fall, try using your computer as an alarm clock. It’s presumably already plugged in, has a battery in case the power goes off, and is something you’ll have to bring with you anyway. Plus, with an alarm clock pulling from your music library, you can wake up to the dulcet sounds of the Beastie Boys.

For OSX users, I recommend iTunes Alarm, a free app that works with your iTunes library. It allows for customized alarms (if you wake up at different times on different days of the week, for example), and allows you to configure alarms to wake up and fall asleep to. Plus, if your laptop is far away from where you sleep, you actually have to get up to turn the noise off, and this increases the likelihood that you’ll stay awake. Be sure to double-check the software after iTunes updates, though–your alarm won’t go off if you have a new user agreement that you have to check off.

For Windows users, this alarm program seems to provide most of the same functionality, despite being ugly as sin. For some reason, the number of alarm clocks available for Windows seems to be pretty small (or they’re well-hidden). However, if you’re looking for something to wake you up, it will do the trick. It offers different alarms for different days of the week and customizable music.

For Linux users, this alarm clock application seems to be a good choice. It offers ridiculous scheduling options for the alarms, and has a fairly painless setup procedure. It lets you pick a custom sound for your alarm, so if you have a music file you’d like to play, you’re good. The Linux app goes beyond the other two OS’s options in that it allows you to schedule alarms months in advance–if you want an alarm for every Monday in January except the 25th, it’s doable with this program.

Though all of this software comes highly recommended by folks online, it’s always a good idea to test it before you go back to school in case it doesn’t work with your computer for some reason. In addition, if you’re paranoid (like me), it can be good to run a second alarm on your phone at a five-minute delay for the first week of school. However, that being said, computer alarms can work really well and travel with you in a way traditional alarm clocks can’t, without the inconvenience of purchasing a dedicated iSpeakerThing. Plus: Beastie Boys.

Got a favorite alarm clock app we didn’t cover? Share it in the comments!