My precious. Image courtesy of Flickr user liewcf. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.The day had come. I’d maintained employment for a semester and I was about to go full-time for the summer. Of course, my expenses skyrocketed – summer housing, money for food, and the cost of living away from home would make it hard to make ends meet. I couldn’t help myself though – as much as I had tried to follow Emily’s advice about succeeding with a dumbphone, I just couldn’t see myself living for much longer without a smartphone.

I told myself the rational decision was to wait – the iPhone 5 would be out in a few months, maybe a year – at that time, I’d have the money saved up and I’d become a full-fledged Apple fanboy. But as I logged into my Google Voice account that one Tuesday, Sprint had made it too hard to say no. Below the jump, I’ll described the steps I took on the road to my smartphone and why I believe a college student is one of the ideal customers for a smartphone today.

I had heard that Sprint had made a deal with Google Voice users, but was fuzzy on the specifics until that Tuesday. It ends up that I could use my Google Voice number on my cellphone, saving headaches and an additional app and completely simplifying my cellular experience. I realized my days of using aliases for my friends and awkward number exchanges were over and I hurried over to Sprint to see what new cell phone I qualified for – knowing I was due for an upgrade since my previous 2-year deal was up. The LG Optimus S was the first phone to catch my eye with the attractive price of $0.00, and after checking reviews around the web, I knew it was what I wanted. My instant gratification meant I’d sacrifice the web special and pay $20 in store and start a new $70 plan that I whittled down to around $55 after my 19% student discount (but before the mandatory $15 add-ons and taxes), as long as my parents were okay with it. I knew I’d have to pony up and pay for the difference between the two plans and was on my way to having my first bill ever, but it was worth it. My mom asked Dad for me – not because I was scared, but because she wanted to – and he quickly said yes. I was surprised – it wasn’t his nature to agree so quickly, but I realized this time, it also wasn’t his money.

After passing a credit check at the Sprint store for my new discounted plan (a creepy scenario for someone with no credit at all), the phone was mine. I went to town immediately, and realized that Android wasn’t a toy. These first three days have been arduous – from “Memory Low” to not receiving text messages on my phone, Android definitely doesn’t “just work” like iOS. After toying with it, and customizing the phone to my standards, I couldn’t be happier. As someone who’s largely synced into Google – from GMail to Google Calendar to Google Reader and Google Voice – the phone seamlessly worked with my Google account information.

So why do all college students need smartphones? Well, they don’t need them. But they certainly can all use them. Having my e-mail on the fly is ideal. I learned that I didn’t get the position I wanted in student government during my sister’s chorus concert tonight and also found out my schedule for work. Convenient for sure, but it also gave me that edge of being able to trade shifts before my smartphone-less colleagues. Beyond that disappointing email tonight, a smartphone is ideal for campus leaders. A situation that requires a quick e-mail can be accomplished from your lap in class or finding out crucial information from the Internet can be done at a local sports bar that doesn’t have the benefit of WiFi.

Most of the college population remains without a smartphone – contrary to popular belief – but if you have the means to afford one (or you barely do, like me), take the jump and get smarter. If for nothing else, you can answer Words with Friends more often.