Apple vs. PC: The ultimate showdown from an online student’s perspective

Melissa Crossman
20 April, 2012
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Walk into any university classroom and you’re guaranteed to see an overwhelming abundance of glowing Apple logos emanating from student laptops all around the room. Although some dissident students may still stick to their PCs, the loyal student following for Apple products largely overshadows this unorthodox consumer base. The popularity of Apple products wasn’t spawned just because they are considered ‘hip’ or because ‘everyone’s doing it,’ but because they actually offer better value and quality to students when it comes to meeting academic obligations.

For students pursuing university degrees though online classes, Apple products truly can’t be beaten. Here’s why:


1. Better software

Mac computers feature all of the best software for writing assignments, creating presentations, tabling numerical data and more. In addition to Apple’s exclusive programs, such as Keynote, Pages and Numbers, Mac owners can also use the same software they may already be familiar with from using PCs, including PowerPoint, Word and Excel. Although Mac computers offer compatibility with PC programs like PowerPoint, Word and Excel, they provide a much safer and more user-friendly experience than the same programs on PCs.

2. Incredible durability

The price tag listed on a Mac may have many budget-inclined students heading for the door, but this cost pays for better quality and longevity. In other words: It’s worth it. For students who receive their education strictly online, having a computer that can withstand frequent long-term use is imperative for a successful, hassle-free learning experience. Not only is Apple hardware strong and highly damage-resistant, the brand also offers the most advanced software that is guaranteed to keep you in the loop for years.

3. App accessibility

All of your scheduling and studying woes can be answered in five simple words: “There’s an app for that.” For busy online students, having constant access to helpful apps can tremendously improve work ethic, studying efficiency and organisation both at home and on the go. The Mac App Store comes built-into your Mac computer, while additional App Stores are available on virtually any Apple device you purchase. Having constant app accessibility keeps you connected and within reach of all of the educational resources you need to fulfill your responsibilities as a student.

4. Podcast potential

Online students who are often running from place to place with very little time to sit down and read can still stay on top of studying through podcasts – available on iTunes and various downloadable applications. Apple makes it easy to search for podcasts based on a certain academic subject, so you can gain a better understanding of current events surrounding the topic and other stimulating educational information. Students can listen to these podcasts while travelling, exercising, shopping and running other daily errands to continue learning despite a busy schedule.

5. Enhanced communication

When taking an online course, effective communication is crucial to better understanding and performance. Mac computers, iPhones, iPads and other Apple devices help you stay in touch with lecturers, classmates, tutors and friends with FaceTime. Apple products are also compatible with other popular video conferencing software, such as Skype, which ensures quick and effective communication. With iChat Theater, students can even share presentations, photos, files and more to communicate more effectively and develop ideas and projects collaboratively.

Born from the mind of the late education-advocate Steve Jobs, it’s no surprise the Apple products would reign supreme as a catalyst for learning in a technological environment. Although PCs may offer an acceptable alternative, Apple truly allows you to get more out of your online education by taking full advantage of the technological resources available. For students who are already ahead of the technological curve at an online college, choosing a company that is constantly revolutionizing technology is only natural.

Melissa Crossman has a Master’s Degree in Education and writes about education, current trends in learning, and technology.




10 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Tim says:

    I am a mac owner and am in the final 6 months of a Bachelors Degree with Open Universities Australia and can say that the mac was a worthwhile investment.

    I subscribe to podcasts in iTunes via a podcast link provided by my tutors, use pages to write reports and essays and use mac mail to keep in touch with lectures and tutors.

    However the mac does have some limitations when it comes to studying online. First limitation is that in my last 3 years of study, not once has FaceTime been utilised. Instead tutors and other students have always opted to use Skype instead, making it seem as though FaceTime constantly goes to waste.

    The other limitation is that Safari does not give me the full functionality of Blackboard LMS which is the online learning platform used by the majority of Universities providing subjects for OUA. In some instances Safari does not work at all with certain plagiarising checking software built into Blackboard LMS. Due to this I have to use Firefox or Chrome.

    The one point where this article really hits the nail on the head is durability. I upgrade to a new mac every 2 years to try and keep up with the curve but I honestly think my 4 year old MacBook Pro would still outperform a brand new off the shelf Windows PC for use in an academic environment.

  2. Paulie says:

    Too right! I’ve always used Apple’s products, my Iraq computer ever was a Mac and my current one, a PowerBook has stuck with me solidly for 7 years. The hardware is great, the software is awesome, it just works. A Mac is well worth the price tag, indeed it is an investment in your future!

  3. Paulie says:

    ^ That should be: first. I blame iPhone for that typo :S ;)

  4. Gordon says:

    As a teacher who encouraged my school to go with Macs & OS Lion there are 2 features that always seem to get overlooked but are life savers for students.
    The first is Versions and the second is Auto Save. We no longer have ‘lost’ work.

    Add to that all the other features for productivity that come with 1,2,3 and 4 finger swipes and its a ‘no brainer’ to go mac

  5. Oscar says:

    I love my mac, but I’d just like to point out that both podcasts and video chat are available on every PC, and countless mobile devices. They’re therefore not really valid reasons to recommend choosing an apple product over another brand’s alternative… “people like buying macs because they have keyboards, and a GUI” …

  6. Melissa Crossman says:

    You’re absolutely right, Oscar. When I first started podcasting for my students, I was amazed at how easy it was using GarageBand, and my intention was to point out how easy podcasts are on a Mac. Thanks for helping me clarify.

  7. xenicraft says:

    And now no one can use the common excuse “my work didn’t save”. :D

  8. Janet says:

    I’m so grateful I came across this article. I’ve been thinking about whether to make the switch from my PC. I’m doing an off-campus music degree, and have just had uncomfortable moments with my PC freezing up and going blank on me while doing a composition assignment and an essay, both due around the same time. I think it’s time to get a Mac.

  9. Melissa Crossman says:

    Janet–Go for it! You won’t regret it. :)

  10. Dem Pisstoff says:

    You are obviously all Apple psychophants (deliberate misspelling).
    The Apple regime is so restrictive when it comes to moving files between devices and , on the iPad anyway, you run the risk of losing native xls formatting.
    Android devices are much freer in both the cost of apps and in their ability to allow many types of file transfer.
    Apple are not so reliable – why are so many spare iPhone screens sold. I have bought several Asus laptops over the years and none have ever broken. I have dropped my original 7 inch galaxy tab and it too hasn’t missed a beat.
    As for software efficiency, why does uploading files on a portable apple device require the use of a bloated iTunes when on Microsoft computers the transfer can be done with programs a fraction of the size?
    As for innovation – Apple are past masters at recognizing, copying and popularizing good ideas (even Jobs admitted this) but are unable to allow others the right to do the same.
    Open your eyes – Apple is not the best at everything although they strive hard to keep up the myth so they can overcharge mercilessly / run a closed and tightly controlled system.

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