Get To Know Your College IT Department

Not every college student majors in computer science or is lucky enough to have a roommate who does. Students with less-than-stellar computer skills may find connecting laptops to the college network one of the most challenging tasks of their academic career. For those who aren’t studying to be the next Jobs or Gates, the college IT department is a valuable tech resource.

What the IT Department Does

Your college IT department is responsible for the care and upkeep of the college computer network, including security and privacy issues. The IT department provides support to students registering email accounts, helps them get set up on the college computer system and assists with services such as data backup (if the college network offers such services).

Most college IT department websites include FAQs, instructions on how to check grades online and network access details. Many have virtual helpdesks where users can submit requests for assistance. The IT department also offers resources such as articles on patching operating systems, installing antivirus programs and similar computer issues.

If you’re looking for computer lab locations and hours of operation, the IT department is the place to start your search. If you have complaints about the network or concerns about the security of information stored on the network, again, ask the IT staff. (Helpful hint: Be polite. IT staff tend to be busy people who get more than their fair share of abuse from upset students and staff. Be nice to them and they’ll be nice to you).

The IT department also provides and enforces acceptable use policies detailing how the network can or cannot be used, including activities that violate the Student Code of Ethics.

It’s important to read these policies, as certain types of hardware or software may be prohibited. IT policies also ban any computer activities that threaten the network’s security or user privacy. Failure to abide by these policies can get students blocked from the network, and possibly face college disciplinary charges.

What the IT Department Doesn’t Do

College IT departments are busy places, and consider some issues to be the student’s responsibility. For instance, it’s your responsibility to ensure your operating system and antivirus program are up-to-date. If you don’t have an antivirus program, Staples expert technicians can help, or check with your IT department. They may recommend a product, and some even offer free antiviral software.

It’s also your responsibility to ensure that your computer is capable of connecting to the network. In other words, the IT department will help you connect to the network, but will not provide Ethernet cables or modems.

While the IT department provides computer network support to students and staff, it does not provide tech support for hardware or software issues on personal computers. If a lab computer has a hardware problem, the IT department will fix that. If a student’s personal laptop has the same issue, IT staff won’t deal with the problem. Fortunately, students can access a wide range of technical help from other sources, including Staples in-store services, online services and, yes, possibly even a dorm mate who is studying computer science.

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