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College Students Find WiFi Essential to Education, Survey Reports

Ninety percent of college students in the United States say WiFi access is as essential to education as classrooms and computers, and nearly three in five say they wouldn't go to a college that doesn't have free WiFi, according to a survey by the WiFi Alliance and Wakefield Research. What's more, 79 percent said that without WiFi access, college would be a lot harder.

In conjunction with the WiFi Alliance, Wakefield Research surveyed 501 U.S. college students in September 2008. The WiFi alliance has a membership made up of companies involved in WiFi technology and services.

Other survey findings:

  • If forced to choose, the survey reported, nearly half of respondents (48 percent) would give up beer before giving up WiFi;
  • Seventy-two percent would rather wear their school's rival's team colors for a day;
  • More than two in five (44 percent) used WiFi to get a head start on an assignment before a class was finished;
  • More than half have checked Facebook or MySpace and sent or received e-mail while using their laptop in class. Just under half sent instant messages to a friend during class;
  • Many students reported that the availability of WiFi influences their choice of coffee shop (52 percent), bookstore (42 percent), and restaurant (33 percent).

"WiFi is expected as part of today's campus experience both from an educational perspective as well as from a social perspective. Students expect WiFi so that they can learn anytime and anywhere on campus as well as always be available for friends and family," said Stan Schatt, vice president and research director at ABI Research. "We expect to see WiFi penetration in U.S. universities at 99 percent by 2013."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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