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Poll: Most College Students Prefer Laptops Over Tablets for School

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Even though tablet purchases are on the rise among college students, most of them still prefer to use laptops for learning. At the same time, overwhelming majorities of students believe tablets will serve more and more educational functions in the future.

According to a new Harris Poll conducted for Pearson, 52 percent of college students now own tablets. That is up from 45 percent in 2014. However, only one in 12 (8 percent) college students aged 18 and 19 (typically freshmen and sophomores) said they use a tablet every day for their school work, while two-thirds (66 percent) use a laptop every day for school.

More older college students (those 25 and older) use tablets every day for school — 27 percent of respondents. Still, even more of the students that age use laptops instead (about 40 percent).

Even if their current use of tablets for school is low, 83 percent of all college students said they believe tablets will transform the way students learn in the future, and 70 percent said tablets will replace printed textbooks within the next five years.

"College students continue to show enthusiasm for learning digitally," said Seth Reichlin, Pearson senior vice president of market research for higher education.

More than half of college students 25 and older consider themselves early adopters (51 percent), but only 36 percent of all college students would say the same thing about themselves.

While Internet connectivity continues to expand all the time, 8 percent of black college students said they do not have WiFi access at home, compared to 2 percent of white students.

Tablet ownership has continued to grow over the five years since the devices' introduction to the market, but laptop and smartphone ownership have, for the most part, stabilized with little year-to-year change. Today, 88 percent of college students said they own a laptop and 85 percent said they own a smartphone.

The poll was conducted over a month this past spring. Just over 1,200 college students from around the United States were surveyed. The full report is available at the Pearson site.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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