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March 29, 2005

About Macs at GW and GW Generally

A reader has requested advice about using a Mac at GW (and attending GW generally). GW requires incoming students to have a laptop, and it all but orders them to buy one of two or three Dells with certain features. It explicitly states it does not support any other platform and will not provide any assistance whatsoever to anyone using anything other than a PC. If you choose to use a PC but not one of the recommended Dells, you'll still get some support, but not the full package (whatever that is). So it's basically a PC-only school, yet I've used a Mac there for the past two years, and I'm not the only one. So what's the deal? For anyone who is interested, here are the problems you will *definitely* encounter using a mac at GW: 1) You can't print to the network printers. PC users can print from anywhere in the school via the wireless network to printers located on the second floor (and maybe elsewhere; I don't pay attention since it doesn't work for me). To print anything, you'll have to email it to yourself, check your email on a school computer (there are two PC computer labs where you can always find an open computer), and print from there. I just bought a $125 laser printer and print everything at home except for emergencies when I do the above. Note: Both Lexis and Westlaw give students free printing from their services. This works fine on the mac. 2) You will feel very sad that your computer doesn't crash or freeze or just stop working every couple of weeks or months. You will not be on a first-name basis with the computer help desk -- you may not even know where it is (I don't). You will generally have far fewer things to bitch about so far as your computing goes, and law students really hate not having things to complain about. ;-) That's all I can think of, really. If you've got access to a PC laptop for taking finals, that's all you need. And if you're a relatively comfy mac user who is not phased by the above sort of printing issues or lack of access to a computer help-desk on a regular basis, etc., you'll be fine. If you're someone who maintains his/her own machine now and is going to be comfortable continuing to do so in the future even after you've become a suddenly helpless and pampered law student, you should be fine. Note also: GW tries to further scare you into buying a PC by mentioning that you'll be required to use special PC-only software for your 1L legal writing classes, but they've made this claim for two years now and so far they haven't started using that software and I've heard no further mention of it outside this computer policy rhetoric. My guess is they just throw that around as an extra threat to discourage people from ignoring their orders that you buy a Dell. Whatever. If anyone has other questions about GW, send them along and I will respond and ask any other GW people to respond as well. (That goes for the above, too—if you're a GW student, alum, or professor and have thoughts on computing at GW, please do share!) Generally, it's a fine school, lots of opportunities, some really great professors, good wireless access, sort of crap library but ok if you like old maze-like study environments (and some do), rank-focused, very intent on helping students become BigLawyers and get judicial clerkships, small but still very worthwhile clinical program, supposedly great IP and international human rights programs (I don't know, but that's what I hear), pretty sad public interest support but I'm told it's better than some other places, and....? That's all I can think of right now, so again, I open the floor to any GW peeps who might agree/disagree w/my assessments or have anything to add. I will thank you for explaining why GW is better than I think it is b/c regardless of what I think, I'm stuck here for another year so if you can help me appreciate it more, please do! (And that is not to say that I don't like the school or whatever, only that I think it leaves much to be desired...).

Posted 09:25 AM | Comments (15) | 2L law school

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