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Survey Shows Surge of ‘Smart Phones’ among W&L Students

Although cell phones have been a staple of college students’ communications gear for some years now, the smart-phone revolution is taking over campuses.

A survey of students who entered Washington and Lee University last fall found that 99 percent of them had brought at least one cell phone. Of those with cell phones, 43.3 percent were using one of the smart phones, most frequently the BlackBerry (18.2 percent) and the iPhone (17.5 percent).

To compare that figure, a similar survey of the entire W&L student body in the spring of 2009 found that only 23.6 percent were using smart phones then.

“I’m sure that the number of upperclassmen who came back this year with smart phones has increased as well,” said Richard Peterson, chief technology officer at W&L. “It’s quite clear that we must factor these devices into the mix as we think about our technology strategies.”

The same survey of the Class of 2013 found a continuing move toward Macintosh computers. Essentially half of the respondents (49.3 percent) reported using Macintosh computers and operating systems; included in that number were 9.7 percent who used Macintosh computers to run the Windows operating system. Again comparing these figures to data from the entire student body in 2008-09, the shift is significant – 68 percent used Windows system as opposed to 34 percent who used the Macintosh OS.

Among other findings: 96.2 percent brought laptops, while 6 percent brought two computers. Only 1.3 percent of the first-year students had an e-reader, while 88.7 percent had an iPod. When it came to gaming devices, 29 percent indicated that they had either a handheld or console system, with the Xbox 360 getting the most use (48 percent).