Back to College Starts with Walmart’s Best Plans

If you’re a diligent reader of this blog, you’ll be saying “hey, wait a sec! your oldest is in 12th grade, not college! what the deuce are you talking about with back to college?” And you’d be spot on. I’m writing about the cheapest wireless plans, perfect for families — or students! — on a tight budget.

The phone of choice: The slick Nokia Lumia 521, available at your local Walmart for a bargain $49.88. Just look for all the blue…

walmart family mobile mobile phones for sale

With a high school senior in the house, not a day goes by without some discussion that’s related to colleges, whether it’s admissions, college selection or preparing for college admission exams. Now you’re thinking “ugh, SAT”. Yup, that’s a big part of what we’ve been talking about, and the entire idea that this is the last year of being under my roof, having someone buy food, cook, clean, etc. Then again, it’s the last year of her having someone tell her that it’s late enough and she should go to bed too.

The good and the bad!

I really tried to push myself 12mo into the future and ask myself what I would put in a care package for A- when she does finally drive off for college. Food. Gift cards. Pencils. A new pillow. Those are easy. But what about a phone that’s just for staying in touch?

That’s where the Nokia Lumia 521 came into the picture. With its 4-inch screen, 5MP camera and 400-hour standby time, it’s quite a good little phone and at the current Walmart “rollback” price of $49.88, it’s a pretty sweet bargain for sure.

And so, my care package, including a guide to living in the dorms, another guide to avoiding the dread Freshman 15, a book on traveling through Europe (just in case), an academic planner, a guide to her Nikon camera and, of course, the Lumia 521:

back to college with walmart family mobile, nokia lumia 521

I figure I’ll probably need a care package of my own when she drives off, a big photo of her and a box of tissues, but that’s another story entirely!

wfm unlimited plan - $34.88

And a phone without a plan is like, um, a man without a fish on a bicycle? No, that’s not right. Ah, well, ANYway…

You’ll also need to pick up the Walmart Family Mobile Unlimited  Talk, Text and Web, the perfect plan for this phone at a surprisingly modest $34.88/month. That’s just a smidge over $1/day, a cheap price to pay for me to be able to stay in touch with my daughter when she finally does go off to college.

If your college-bound child already has a phone on your data plan, it’s quite likely that the day they suddenly have to pick up the bill for the phone and plan they’ll be very interested to hear about budget wireless options that still give them all the popular mobile apps, access to the Web and, of course, non-stop texting until their fingers go numb. Or maybe that’s just my teens. 🙂

The other tech piece of a child heading off to college is the computer and while you can brave the computer department at the college book store, you can check Walmart for some good bargains on entry level PC laptops too. It’s not the latest loaded $5000 Alienware gaming laptop, but if your child, like mine, is planning on going to college to learn, not to play, one of these computers could be just fine too.

Not sure? When A- and I did a college road trip last year, we stopped by all the book stores too, including the one at California Polytechnic State University, San Louis Obispo (aka Cal Poly), which looked like this:

cal poly bookstore, exterior
If that wasn’t enough culture shock, we went to my own alma mater, University of California, San Diego, and walked around the dorms during the freshmen orientation. Tenaya and Tioga Halls, Muir College.

Big, grey dorm buildings, hundreds of healthy 18-19yo’s in close quarters, an excellent reminder of the pros – and cons – of college life:

muir college dorms, ucsd
And though I can’t imagine it, if your college-bound child has never had a smartphone before, well, having one and being comfortable with it definitely seems like a rite of passage for modern teens.

We live just down the street from the University of Colorado at Boulder and you can’t go on campus any more without seeing the students all glued to their devices, whether they’re cellphones, tablets or laptops. I wonder sometimes if they ever actually talk to each other without thumbs!

On a more serious note, I think one of the real challenges for a student heading to college nowadays is not the tech, but balancing the tech with having an actual life. College is about social, yes, but it’s also about learning, about discovering what you want to do for a career. And you can’t really do that if you’re drowning in the latest posts on Vine, playing yet another game of Candy Crush or Plants vs. Zombies 2.

Still, my girl really isn’t that far from departing for college. Maybe I should give her this care package now after all…

#Phones4School #CollectiveBias

One comment on “Back to College Starts with Walmart’s Best Plans

  1. My husband went to UCSD and I went to SDSU but neither of us lived on campus. My son told me the other day (mind you he’s 5) that he was going to go to a college far away so we’ll have to start planning out ways to stay connected when the time comes closer! #client

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