5 reasons you need a VPN if you're a student

College student sitting on steps with coffee and Dell Laptop
(Image credit: Dell)

Ah, my student days. Not so long ago in the grand scheme of things, but amid all the late mornings, later nights, and classes (of course) it never occurred to me to invest in one of the best VPNs. But these days? I'd say that it should be near the top of any student's shopping list. 

It may be the summer now, and I hate to be that guy but you should have one eye on your return next school year already. Enjoy the time off, but with the price of college/university these days, get ready to kick some academic behind when the school bell rings. But it's not just work, a VPN is an important accessory for unwinding between assignments as well.

So why do I think that a VPN subscription is as essential as a library card on campus? Let me explain.

Safe Studies

College campuses are busy places, and very online. Practically every student has their laptop and phone on them at almost all times. They are also almost all connected to the same Wi-Fi network. That is music to a hacker's ears. 

Similarly, studying in coffee shops and on public Wi-Fi can be dangerous, hackers have been known to create fake networks designed purely for harvesting the data of those unfortunate enough to connect to them.

Using a VPN with encryption makes it much harder for attackers to access your data, and given the target-rich environment, they'll almost certainly turn elsewhere with their tricks.

Worry free research

A key component of any degree is research and especially if you're diving into a more niche area, that might require a heck of an internet deep dive. As you stray from the more well-known areas of the internet, can every link and site be trusted not to be laced with trojans, malware, or phishing scams? 

That's where the likes of NordVPN come in. Subscriptions include access to its Threat Protection Pro technology. This automatically scans URLs and blocks access to any sketchy dealings connected to your current webpage. There are free equivalents like IPVanish's newly launched Link Checker, but they don't work automatically like Nord's system.

Movie night

Hulu, Disney Plus, and Max logos for streaming bundle

(Image credit: Hulu, Disney Plus, Max)

Of course, college is far from just work, you need to make time to chill out too. If you're a movie buff or streaming fan then a VPN is essential. You can use one of the best streaming VPNs to access region-locked content on the likes of Netflix, but it's especially essential if you're studying abroad. 

If you're an American student studying abroad and want to access services like Max and Hulu that are US-only then you'll need to use a VPN to fool them into thinking that you're watching from home. There's nothing more infuriating than getting to the finale of a great show this summer only to realize you can't watch the conclusion where you're studying.

Game on

Playing Xbox while sitting in the Haworth Very Gaming Chair

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I spent probably an unhealthy amount of time at college gaming, and I loved it. One of the best parts of college is that you'll find people into the same things as you, which means gaming together. 

Having a gaming VPN is more than just a security benefit. There are many reasons why you should use a gaming VPN, especially if you're into some of the most competitive multiplayer games like League of Legends, Call of Duty, Valorant, and Overwatch

If you've got a high ping, relocating your connection to a country nearer the game's servers can reduce the problem. A gaming VPN can also help to stop your ISP from throttling your connection when downloading and playing online. Our current best choice of gaming VPN is NordVPN

New faces everyday

If there's one thing I remember about living in a dorm and student housing, it's that people are always stopping by. Whether they are your friends, friends of your roommate, or a friend of a friend, almost every day brings new faces. Especially when hosting or attending parties or events. 

I'm not saying that your friends are cyber criminals or hackers, but they might not be as savvy as you dear reader. If they accidentally have something nasty on their laptop or cellphone then you'll appreciate a VPN keeping it at arm's length. 

Andy Sansom
Staff Writer – VPN

Andy is Tom's Guide Staff Writer for VPNs and privacy. Based in the UK, he originally cut his teeth at Tom's Guide as a Trainee Writer (go and click on his articles!) before moving to cover all things Tech and streaming at T3. He's now back at Tom's Guide to keep you safe online, and bring you the latest news in VPN and cybersecurity.