Computer Purchasing

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Desktop Computer Purchases

For information on desktop computer purchases, view the Computer Purchasing Policy.

Laptop Purchases

For information on laptop purchases, view the Kalamazoo College Laptop Purchasing Policy.

Computer and Grant Proposals

Faculty are encouraged to seek outside funding to augment, upgrade, or replace their research equipment. The Office of Institutional Support and Research is committed to working with faculty to develop proposals for research and teaching equipment.

Faculty should be prepared to answer the following questions when creating a new grant involving technology:

  • With which operating systems is this equipment compatible?
  • How much memory is required/what is optimally recommended? How much hard disk space is required/what is optimally recommended?
  • Which operating systems are recommended for optimal performance of this device?
  • What hardware and software conflicts are known for this device?
  • How will this device connect to the computer? (which interface will it use? USB? serial? parallel? SCSI? FireWire?)
  • Is technical support for this device included with its purchase?
  • Will this equipment be networked? To what and how will it communicate over the network?
  • Who will access the system and from where? How will they access it?
  • Who will administer the system (create accounts, deal with viruses, software patches, etc.)?
  • Have you planned for a method to backup the system?
  • Have you planned for virus protection and system security?

Ownership and Responsibility

Equipment purchased through external grants and processed through the College’s budget belongs to the acquiring department of the College. That department is responsible for the maintenance of this equipment.

Student Computer Buying Guide

We recommend buying a national brand-name computer such as Dell or Apple. Unless you are a computer expert, avoid “home-built” systems by small shops or friends.

A computer has a useful life span of about 3 to 4 years; less if it is a low end system and more if it is a high end system.

About 50% of the students at K buy Macs and 50% buy PCs. Most businesses use PCs.

Virus Protection

To prevent computer viruses spreading within the Kalamazoo College network, all computers connected to the Kalamazoo College network are required to have a current, up-to-date antivirus application installed. This requirement includes all computers whether they be student-owned, faculty- or staff-owned, or college-owned computers.

There are a wide variety of antivirus products available to consumers. Products popular among K College students include free products like AVG Free (Windows, free), Microsoft Security Essentials (Windows, free), and ClamXav (Mac, free) as well as for-fee products like those from Norton, McAfee, avast!, Sophos, and Malwarebytes.


The College offers Microsoft Office 365 at no cost to students.

Wait until you get on campus to buy software. Most popular software packages are available at educational prices through the Kalamazoo College Bookstore. New educational packages such as Adobe Photoshop cost less than the upgrade cost at commercial prices. The bookstore stocks a number of popular programs, but they can also order any available educationally priced packages and get it in a day or two.

Our labs have Microsoft Office 2010/2011; if you use a newer version of Office, you may need to “save down” to these versions for compatibility.

Additional Hardware to Consider

External Hard Drives

External hard drives are a good choice if you are going to be backing up large amounts of data like a backup of your system in case your computer crashes.

Flash/Thumb Drives

These are small, portable storage devices that plug directly into the front or back USB ports of most PC and Apple computers. USB drives are easy to use, require little or no configuration and come in a variety of storage sizes.