Computing: Laptop FAQ
What is the SAIC Laptop Program?
To be eligible for the SAIC Laptop Program, you must be a student at SAIC in a degree program and enrolled in six (6) or more degree credit hours in the Fall and Spring semesters of each academic year. Students who take an authorized leave of absence may remain enrolled in the SAIC Laptop Program provided that the leave of absence does not exceed two consecutive semesters. Students who are not eligible for the program will be terminated from the SAIC Laptop Program.
By ensuring that students acquire a laptop that meets or exceeds the minimum laptop specifications, we can integrate technology into the curriculum and enable students to have access to the school's wide range of institutional software licenses, comprehensive technical support services, and essential task-based training.
For more details, contact the Laptop Program support staff (email@example.com or 312.345.3738).
Who is required to enroll in the SAIC Laptop Program?
All incoming undergraduate students, with the exception of second-degree students, are required to enroll in the SAIC Laptop Program. If you already have a laptop computer and want to find out if it qualifies, see minimum requirements.
Who will be charged the Technology Fee?
All students enrolled for six or more degree credit hours are charged a technology fee. This fee enables a student to access wireless and wired networking, curricular software in computer classrooms and labs, and CRIT Help Desk support and training. In addition, students with a qualifying laptop computer can access curricular software both on and off campus, along with CRIT Help Desk Support. The 2016–17 technology fee is $285 per semester.
What if I am a transfer student with a prior Bachelor's degree?
Incoming transfer students who hold a bachelor's degree from another institution are not required to enroll in the Laptop Program. However, it is strongly recommended that all students at the school have a laptop as technology is integrated into the curriculum and campus life at SAIC.
Enrolling in the SAIC Laptop Program
SAIC has relied overwhelmingly on Apple computers for many years, and our labs and production facilities are equipped with Apple hardware and software. Apple has a history of developing software to fill the needs of artists and designers and is the industry-preferred platform in the graphic arts, visual communication design, film and video, desktop publishing, and sound production. Additionally, Mac OS X is virtually free from computer viruses and malware. Standardizing the computer platform, file formats, and software on campus enhances student mobility and facilitates project production and file sharing in our interdisciplinary educational environment.
How do I enroll in the SAIC Laptop Program?
If you are planning to attend SAIC and are a new or transfer student in undergraduate studies, SAIC recommends a laptop to match your needs as a student. Enrolling in the Laptop Program provides access to technical support and training. To learn more about the SAIC laptop program and the 2016–2017 recommended laptop model, click here.
What if I already have a desktop or laptop computer?
Desktop computers do not satisfy the technology requirement due to SAIC's unique and mobile computing environment. PC computers also do not qualify, as our core curricular software licenses and instruction are specific to Apple, and the School is equipped with Apple computers in most of our labs and production facilities.
If you already have an Apple laptop computer that meets or exceeds the minimum specifications, you may apply for a waiver. Upon approval, you will be exempted from the SAIC Laptop Program requirement.
To verify if your laptop meets SAIC requirements, please email the CRIT Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will ask you to prove ownership of both the computer and a 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan. We will then review your information and determine if your laptop meets the requirements. Please note that the verification is only valid for the 2016–17 school year, and we cannot guarantee that your laptop will run the SAIC software template beyond this year.
Is there financial aid available to cover the cost of SAIC Laptop Program?
There are limited funds available to help defray the cost of the SAIC Laptop Program Hardware for eligible students.
If you are requesting a loan, you should first use the Figure Your Cost worksheet (also included in your financial aid packet materials) to calculate how much you will need to borrow overall for the academic year. Include the cost of the SAIC Laptop Program hardware to determine the total loan amount you wish to request. In addition, a family can request a Federal Direct PLUS Loan (parent of dependent students or graduate students) or a student Private loan for computer-related expenses. A credit approval is required for these loans
If you are concerned about being able to afford the SAIC Laptop Program hardware, please share your concern with your Student Financial Services Advisor or Admissions Counselor. For more information, contact Student Financial Services at 312.629.6600 or email@example.com.
Federal regulations prevent loan proceeds from being disbursed earlier than 10 days before the semester start date.
Do I need laptop insurance?
Upon acquiring a laptop, you assume sole responsibility for loss, whether due to damage, loss, theft or other cause, of the equipment. You are fully responsible for the cost of the laptop in the event of loss.
We advise you to obtain personal property insurance to protect your equipment. You may want to consider covering the equipment under your, or your parents', homeowner's or renter's insurance policy. For your information and convenience, National Student Services, Inc., provides student personal property insurance; visit nssi.com for more information.
What does my AppleCare Protection Plan cover?
The AppleCare Protection Plan protects the laptop computer against defective parts and offers service and support beyond what is available through the CRIT Help Desk. The SAIC Laptop Program requires a three-year AppleCare Protection Plan.
Please note: The AppleCare warranty only covers defective parts—they do not cover accidents such as theft or physical damage. Laptop insurance is strongly recommended.
What are the specifications to purchase a laptop for 2016–17 School Year?
The 2016–17 SAIC Laptop recommendation includes:
- Apple MacBook Pro
- Touch Bar and Touch ID
- 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
- 8 GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
- 512 GB PCIe-based flash storage
- 13-inch widescreen retina glossy LED-backlit display
- Intel Iris Graphics 550
- 1TB portable USB 3.0 hard drive
- Belkin USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet adapter
- 3-year AppleCare Protection Plan
What if I already own an Apple MacBook Pro?
In order for CRIT to assist in the most efficient way possible and provide equal access to a wide range of software, technical support and training, SAIC has instituted a laptop requirement with the following minimum specifications:
- Apple MacBook Pro
- 500 GB Hard Drive
- 8 GB RAM
- 3 Year AppleCare Protection Plan
If you currently own a laptop that you believe meets these specifications, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the serial number from your laptop, and we will confirm whether your laptop meets the requirements for the 2016–2017 school year.
What are the benefits of SAIC specifying model and configuration?
Standardizing the laptop model and configuration provides numerous benefits to SAIC students:
- The computer model and configuration can be optimized to meet the needs of SAIC students.
- SAIC can provide a software package that has been thoroughly tested for software functionality and network access.
- The SAIC CRIT Help Desk can provide effective technical support and training.
- CRIT can provide software and operating system upgrades.
Using your laptop
How will I use my laptop at SAIC?
Your laptop will be an essential tool in your educational and campus life. You will use your laptop to:
- Take notes, conduct research, work on projects, and write papers. Participate in online discussion groups with classmates and professors.
- Access the Internet for in-class and out-of-class projects and research.
- Access class materials in SAIC Canvas.
- Submit papers and other materials electronically to teachers.
- Use email to communicate with professors, classmates, parents, and friends from your networked dorm room and wireless areas throughout campus.
- Do advanced video and sound editing.
- 3D animation and modeling.
- Manipulate digital images.
- Create and maintain your personal website.
- Create and deliver presentations.
- Prepare projects for high-end peripherals and output devices on campus (such as a CNC laser router, and a Jacquard loom).
- Play digital audio files, watch Internet video and media content.
Do I get operating system and software upgrades?
Yes. To ensure optimal functionality, CRIT provides upgrades to the operating system and software after testing them for compatibility with the SAIC networks and curricular software. These updates help ensure that student laptops are using the latest tested versions of the operating system and software. Updates also help student laptops stay in sync with computer facilities and curricular software on campus.
Can I use SAIC-licensed software after graduation or when I leave the Laptop Program?
No. All software in the curricular template belongs to the institution and is not transferable to the student when leaving the institution. However, most software packages are available for purchase at greatly reduced prices. With these packages, you own the license and have upgrade privileges and vendor support as dictated by the terms of the license. We strongly suggest that students take advantage of this opportunity before graduating or leaving the institution. For more information, contact the CRIT Help Desk at 312.345.3535 or email@example.com.
Can I use my own copies of software while I'm enrolled at SAIC in the Laptop Program?
The school selects and provides a curricular software to ensure functionality and compatibility across campus. If you were to install your own software, you would not have access to software support or updates provided by the CRIT Help Desk. Also, if the CRIT Help Desk has to be retemplate your computer, it will be reverted to the SAIC laptop template. Therefore, we strongly recommend against purchasing your own software until you are ready to leave the institution and terminate your enrollment at SAIC.
Can I install my own versions of other software on my laptop?
Yes. You may install other software at your discretion. Please note installing or updating software has the potential to cause system failure, the loss of data, network access and the ability to use SAIC software. Therefore, we highly recommended that, before installing or updating software, you back up your personal information and files. For more information on backing up your data and updates, please contact the CRIT Help Desk at 312.345.3535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where on campus will I be able to access the SAIC network and the Internet?
Wireless network and Internet access is available throughout campus. This includes:
- Residence Halls
- Flaxman Library
- Student Lounges
- General access and departmental computer labs
How can I best protect my computer against damage and theft?
Care of the laptop and protection against theft or damage is your responsibility. Insurance is strongly recommended.
Keep in mind that while insurance can replace a computer, it does not protect it against theft or damage and cannot replace lost files. To fully protect your work, back up your data frequently.
Please use common sense when on campus or out in public.
Some helpful suggestions and reminders:
- Don't leave your laptop unattended in a classroom.
- Do not leave your laptop bag in unattended cars, or transport it in a flashy bag that invites theft.
- Along with your laptop, be aware of the accessories that come with it. Your power supply and battery are costly and are the most commonly stolen items.
To protect against damage, we recommend:
- Always transport your laptop in the bag provided in the laptop package.
- Please be aware of cords and cables attached to your laptop. These can cause a tripping hazard that could potentially pull your laptop off of a table.
What are my laptop support resources?
There are numerous support resources for laptop users:
- CRIT Help Desk
- Contemporary Practices faculty and teaching assistants
- General Access Computer Labs
- The Apple Store and Apple.com
CRIT Help Desks are located in 112 South Michigan Avenue, room 905, and 37 South Wabash Avenue, room 401. The Help Desks are open during weekday office hours. Staff can assist users with most software or hardware issues. CRIT staff make problem assessments and coordinate repairs.
Contemporary Practices faculty provide the best access to one-on-one assistance while utilizing your laptop in Contemporary Practices classes. Both faculty and teaching assistants can provide help for students using laptops to achieve the goals of classroom assignments and projects.
The Apple Store (located in downtown Chicago about 15 minutes from SAIC's campus) provides free weekly workshops, a Genius Bar, product consulting, and retail outlet. Apple Computers and Apple.com provide manuals, tutorials, and a vast troubleshooting database available to all Mac users.
What if I'm unfamiliar with Macs or computers in general?
There are numerous training and instructional resources available to students.
Students are instructed on basic computing skills during the laptop distribution session of New Student Orientation. In this session, students receive instructions on first-time setup, connecting to the SAIC wired and wireless networks, file management and backup, and accessing KeyServed software.
In Contemporary Practices classes, training coincides with class assignments, and students are taught the necessary computer skills for completing class work.
Finally, students can receive personalized training from the Contemporary Practices program.