Is iPad enough for college(10 facts for students)

A lot of college students are asking if the iPad is enough for college or not?

In other words, can students use iPad only in college without the need to use laptops?

frankly, the iPad is not enough for college and we will tell you why in detail.

in this article, you will discover 10 facts about iPad in college that the majority of students don’t know about. So keep reading making wrong decisions.

iPad storage is not enough for college students

The beginning version that the best iPad version starts from is 128GB of storage, that is to say, talking about iPad pro. While other versions have lower than that.

This is so limited and students won’t be able to do so much with 128GB only.

we’re talking about a pro version that costs $1100 and only has 128GB of storage. If you think to add memory to an iPad you’re wrong you can’t because the iPad doesn’t have extended memory.

That is to say, you need to buy a new iPad device that has more memory or add an external hard drive.

For students who want an iPad that has good or bigger memory like 1TB, they have to pay $1800 for a 1TB iPad version.

with $1800 you can:

  • Buy 2 new powerful desktop computers
  • Buy a MacBook pro 13 inch+ iPad

So college students won’t like at all to make this choice.

iPad is not enough for mechanical engineering students

for students who go in engineering especially mechanical or design engineering using the iPad alone will be a loss of money, effort, and time. iPad is not made for technical or sketching design.

As mechanical engineering students, you won’t be able to use any software that you will need in college like:

  • Computer Aided Design (CAD)
  • Finite
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Visual Basic
  • Mathcad
  • MATLAB and so on

iPad is strictly to avoid for mechanical engineers who think to use an iPad only or replace a laptop. Mechanical engineers might find some alternatives like fusion 360 for 3d designs and other programs. But they are limited and can’t do the job.

As a mechanical engineer student, you will need to use CAD, Matlab, and the all programs that we listed above. Mechanical engineers are doing homework in CAD and submit them to their professors.

So how you’re going to do that with an iPad that doesn’t support or run a CAD?

iPad is not enough or good for computer science students

if you think to use iPad only without laptop for computer science field you’re totally wrong.

iPad is not a device to learn to code neither well for students nor professional coders. iPad does not support any of the famous IDE or software programming compilers like:

  • eclipse
  • Microsoft visual
  • NetBeans
  • IntelliJ IDEA
  • Aptana studio
  • PyCharm
  •  PhpStorm
  • WebStorm
  • RubyMine
  • Komodo IDE

we can say that there is nothing to do with coding and iPad, there are some cloud services to use. But they always need form you to be connected to the internet.

in addition, they are limited and nobody would like them in comparison to the offline and strong IDE compilers.

computer science students are working their full time with laptops and submitting their homework directly from their laptops using IDE compilers that we noticed above.

computer science students don’t use iPad except for taking notes and doing some lighter tasks. So for computer science students, the iPad is something to avoid for college.

iPad doesn’t support windows applications

iPad doesn’t support a lot of windows applications that we use today. So for students who love and used to work in desktop or laptop environments, they will find big limitations and hardships.

so if you are a college student you have to forget about windows applications like:

  • Word
  • excel(not fulll capbilites)
  • PowerPoint
  • one-note
  • AutoDesk
  • outlook
  • onedrive

There are still many other applications but for general users, these are 5 famous apps that college students use. Students use a lot of Microsoft Word and excel, especially for accounting and statistics.

it is right that you can run excel with the iPad but it is still quite limited compared to the original version that students use on laptops.

Today Microsoft has made a service called Microsoft 365 that allows iPad users to use windows services from its cloud. But it still has a lot of limitations. You can know more about this topic by reading this article.

iPad is not reliable for make homework

many students have suffered from many problems doing assignments or homework. So we’re going to list the 7 problems according to the apple official website that you might face doing homework as an iPad user:

  • you won’t be able to submit an assignment that contains more than 20 tasks
  • assignment can’t contain files large than 2GB
  • is not easy to assign your document from any device it requires some tricks
  • students can find some issues for the oldest versions than iOS 14.5.
  • some technic trouble to sue apple schoolwork app
  • you might face some problem with math and calc pad apps
  • a limited graphic tool such as zoom and dragging objects in specific work home apps

Students don’t prefer to use important work or assignments on iPad because they don’t know what they can and what they can’t. Losing the whole work at the last minute will be catastrophic.

if you want to know more about this topic you can read this article. 18 interesting facts about doing assignments with iPad

using an iPad as a laptop is so expensive

iPad is not enough due to the software and hardware limitation that we noticed above. In addition for students who think to use iPad like a laptop, they have to know these things.

Apple doesn’t come with any accessories, you could watch the table below and know how much is going to cost you to use an iPad as a laptop.



Apple laptop 

Windows laptop


$1100 pro version

$1199 macbook 13 inch

$800 average







you don't need

you don't need

Protector screen


you don't need

you don't need


$50 the cheepest one

you don't need

you don't need





That is to say, you have to spend an additional $400 to get a very limited iPad laptop version than MacBook or any other laptop in the market.

But you can get a cheaper laptop with good abilities for $800 with an amazing characteristic and save the half budget to spend on iPad.

iPad has an alternative that can be enough for college

for students who like to use tablets and benefit from all laptop capabilities, there are many alternatives they can use instead of iPads.

But we chose the best and close device that can work on both sides as laptop and tablet at the same time. you could watch this video below.

galaxy Book PRO is a Microsoft product, It is a laptop and tablet at the same time.

is does not have any restrictions you can use any app you want. is not limited to iPads. students can use it comfortably.

iPad and architecture engineering

iPad could not be used as a principal tool for architect engineering it so limited. There are many software’s that architecture students needs in college but can use with iPad like:

  • SketchUp
  • V-Ray
  • AutoCAD
  • Maya
  • ArchiCAD
  • Grasshopper etc

you can’t use an iPad principally or instead of a laptop as an architectural engineering student, the iPad can work as a supplementary tool to sketch. But the worst thing is you have to learn other unfamiliar alternative programs to be able to do that.

it could be a waste of energy of time and energy instead of focusing on Autocad and getting better at it.

you can read this article Is a bachelor of science in architecture worth it?

iPad is not enough for multitasking students

for students who like multi-tasking, having an iPad would not be the best idea, iPad is limited in this question.

For instance, with an iPad you can’t run more than 2 tabs at the same time, while with a laptop you can open 4 or five tables there is no problem.

if you open the third tab on the iPad the tabs won’t work together, one among them will be blocked.

Let’s say that you open 2 youtube videos and want to open or run a notetaking app, one of these 2 videos won’t keep working.

So the maximum number of apps to use at the same time are 2.

iPad is not enough for music students

for students who like or study music iPad will not be a good option, it has software and hardware limitation for music students.

The software music iPad limitations are:

  • you can’t run any app music on an iPad
  • running a music app iPad is not powerful as desktop
  • compositions tools are limited
  • iPad music apps are less featured
  • no virtual instruments
  • you can use professional sound software like Serum Nexus or Native instrument
  • the dashboard has a lot of details and buttons(it is harder to use with a small screen iPad )

The hardware music iPad limitations are:

  • Not all audio interfaces work in iOS
  • UAD interfaces don’t work
  • no HDMI or USB port
  • no sd card reader or extension
  • no music jacks
  • no AVI ports

conclusion (iPad can’t replace a laptop)

iPad is still the best tool to take notes for students not an alternative tool for a computer desktop or laptop. Hence students have to understand that. But for taking notes Can the Ipad replace paper? (12 things you should know).


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.