While nearly every college student can operate an Apple iPod with their eyes closed, the vast majority of Sam Houston State University students are unable to log in to an Apple computer on campus.
Though Apple has found overwhelming success with its sleek music storage devices, when it comes to computers the opposite is quite true on this campus and many others across the nation. In order to access the Apple Macintosh computers on the SHSU campus, students must acquire a “Mac Account” through Computer Services. Yet due to low demand, most students never bother to get one.
The fact remains that most students have no use for the flashy visuals and complicated graphics programs that Apple’s Macintoshes are so famous for carrying. They may be more appealing to the eye, but Macintosh computers have yet to produce any real educational or basic functional value for the majority of college students.
According to Computer Services, students call in for help with their Macintoshes overwhelmingly more often than for PCs. Based on the number of Macs versus the number of PCs on campus, students seem to experience much more difficulty in operating the Apple system as opposed to other more standard systems.
“We definitely receive at least two to three calls a day for help with the Macs,” Kaleb Cuevas, sophomore psychology major and Computer Services employee, said. “It’s usually because of something like the operating system messing up. But it’s often because of user error too.”
More often than not, students and even faculty turn to PCs simply because they are easier and more practical to use.
SHSU Dance Program Coordinator Jennifer Pontius was forced to turn to a PC when she experienced difficulty in operating her Mac, which is still used by most of the department.
“I don’t use a Mac anymore because I had problems e-mailing administration and faculty,” Pontius said. “And there aren’t very many people in Computer Services who work with Macs. But most of the other professors [in the Dance department] still use them.”
According to Cuevas, PCs could be described as more business based than the Mac, with an emphasis on typing-based programs such as Word. With the majority of college students’ assignments focusing on word-based projects and papers, the PC logically provides a much better means of producing their work.
“PCs are more user friendly,” Cuevas said. “Macs are necessary for some majors, but otherwise I’d roll them all out.”
It may seem that Macs could be done away with altogether after finding that most students on-campus do not even use them. However, many courses and majors at SHSU require students to use programs only available on Macs.
Because of their editing and design capabilities, Macs are king in the world of art. Many courses and projects in the art department require the use of programs and capabilities only available on Macintoshes, giving many students a big incentive to pick the Macs over a PC.
“Macs are the only computer I like to use because I think they’re easier,” Matthew Guest, assistant professor of painting and drawing, said. “They use only Macs in the design world. Plus they look better!”
According to Cuevas, the majority of students use the on-campus Macs for video or picture editing, which are very important components in courses for photography, advertising and even dance.
“I think they’re a lot better,” Chris Pry, junior mass communications major said. “They’re more user friendly for Photoshop, and they process things a lot faster.”
In addition to having better applications for students to use, Macs also may be easier to access than other computers on campus. Since many students do not have Mac accounts or avoid using the Macs, those who do have accounts have a much simpler time finding a computer to use.
“If you’re talking about using Macs on campus, there’s a lot less competition,” Pry said. “Since not as many people use them, they’re easier to get to if you’re in a rush.”
Having Macs on campus seems to have created a catch-22 for students and faculty alike, as some struggle with simple tasks while others cannot complete any assignments without them. So as Computer Services continues to deal with Mac complaints and photography majors continue building their masterpieces on exclusive Mac applications, Apple CEO Steve Jobs will keep getting richer off students buying iPods and universities purchasing bittersweet Mac computers.