Welcome to Part II of Geek with Style’s “Back to School Tech” series! Today, I pretty much just want to reiterate how necessary having Microsoft Office suite on your chosen computer is to get all of those papers and presentations completed. Both TheHubs and I love to life-hack, and thought we could handle utilizing cheaper/free Office suites, since we were both living on a student budget (meaning we had to occasionally decide whether we wanted to eat or have enough money to get back home that night sometimes.) Student finances can be really tough without having to add extra software expenses.

It turned out, having Microsoft Office available when needed, was something that couldn’t readily be ignored. Its an industry standard that 95% (if not 100%) of professors and teacher’s assistants use to read and mark your papers (if handed in electronically,) or if you have an issue with your printer at home (and you WILL have an issue, it’s almost like a hazing ritual from your personal tech,) the school’s computer labs will also all be configured with Microsoft’s Office suites. It’s everywhere; and this is one time where you really need to conform.

I’ve tried the other suites in the past, and while they may work just as well for typing up a paper, the moment that paper needs to be opened by Microsoft Word is the moment that the formatting of your work is going to get all out of whack. It’s going to change for the worse (I once had a paper inexplicably add an extra blank sheet after every page once it was opened in MS Word,) and this is a hassle that you will not need. Especially if you’re rushing to get your paper printed just before class… and yeah, this will happen. It happens to everyone – you won’t be an exception, so just make sure you have enough funds on your coffee card while you’re add it (caffeine will be your friend when you need to race across campus with freshly printed sheets of paper.)

There’s a reason why Microsoft Office is the industry standard anyway; it’s the easiest one to use. Or if you have an issue, its the easiest one to figure out, ’cause there are so many helpful websites that will give you quick fixes so that you can carry on with your epic theory. If you’re like me at all, you may want to try going against the grain at every avenue of your school career, just so you can learn everything on your own the hard way; but trust me when I say, not having MS Office available on your computer(s) will only make life more difficult for you in the long run.

Marc Saltzman (TW: @marc_saltzman) breaks it all down pretty efficiently:

You don’t need to be an A-student to know productivity and flexibility are a critical components of academic success. With busy class and after-school schedules, students need tools that help them make the most of study time and group work, wherever and whenever that may be.

Microsoft’s Office 365 Home ($99/year or $10/month) gives students tried and true programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus OneNote for note-taking and research, Outlook to manage email and calendars, OneDrive for storage and sharing, and Skype for Skype-to-Skype and Skype-to-phone calling.

Students can install Office 365 on up to five devices, be they PCs, Macs, iPads, Windows tablets or mobile phones, and you get four additional accounts – so parents can use it for organizing the household or working on the go. Each user also gets 1TB of cloud storage with OneDrive, which translates to 1 million Office documents and 175,000 photos!

Here are a few ways to make it easy for you or the student in life to have access to the much need Microsoft Office Suite:

  • There are ways to get a discount with Microsoft Office products if you have the right connections. For instance, Rogers employees (in Canada) have a discount code available to them to purchase Microsoft Office 2013 (not to be confused with 365 Home) for only $11. You should definitely check if you or your parents’ workplace(s) have access to Microsoft’s Home Use Program for this great deal.
  • Also, Office.com gives you access to Microsoft’s fab programs online. The only catch is that you have to make sure you’re connect to WiFi for access.
  • If you’re purchasing a new laptop/netbook/tablet for school use, check to see if Microsoft Office is included (a lot of computers have MS pre-installed.)

Saltzman has a twitter chat coming up with even more great advice on how to prepared for school with your tech, as well as a chance to win one of two Acer Aspire Switch 10 Convertible Notebooks! Join him and Intel Canada on Tuesday August 26th at 8PM for the #MakeTheGrade Chat!

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored, all opinions are totally my own. 🙂