Get Ready

Even though the Fall 2020 will be very different from what we might have expected or hoped it to be, there is lots of support available to you as you navigate your courses and other activities from a 6-foot or greater distance. This checklist will help guide you and prepare you for remote learning.

  • Follow the Setting Up Your Space tips from Student Affairs.
  • Make sure you have reliable access to a computer. 
    • In partnership with the Financial Aid office, ITS is reaching out to high-need students to ensure that they have a computer that will work for remote study. If you need assistance, please contact the Financial Aid Office right away!
    • Many retailers, including Apple, offer educational discounts to students. Inexpensive laptops can be purchased from many retailers including Best Buy, B&H Photo and Video, Lenovo, HP, Acer, and Dell
  • Install Microsoft Office and make sure you have access to the other software you need. Many software packages are available on the ITS Software Download page, and ITS is working to make other specialized software available to students remotely.
  • Make sure your data is safe! Use a backup tool like Google Backup & Sync to make sure your papers and other important data are securely backed up in the cloud, or store a copy of all important files on a USB flash drive or external hard drive.
  • Consider getting a headset with a microphone (and a webcam if your computer doesn’t have a camera). Good audio and video will help you feel better connected to your classmates and faculty during Zoom-hosted class sessions. Take a look at ITS’s baseline technology recommendations.
  • Install and set up the college’s VPN Client and Duo authentication in case you need to access restricted resources from off-campus. Check out our VPN and Duo Setup Guide (gdoc).

Internet Access

Here are some suggestions for securing reliable internet access:

  1. Use your cell phone as a wifi hotspot.

  2. Upgrade your in-home wifi/internet service to at least 5.0 Megabits per second (mbps). Check your internet speed with the Xfinity xFi Speed Test. The speed test results are easy to interpret.

  3. Use a wifi hotspot. Depending on the prominent carriers in your area, you would want to check with AT&T or T-Mobile or Verizon.

The next steps would be for you to reach out to those companies to see if you can upgrade to reliable internet, either for your cell, or in-home, or to purchase the hotspot.

Students with very high levels of demonstrated financial need may be able to obtain assistance through Macalester’s Emergency Aid Program; this could include a wifi hotspot. Students who have lower levels of financial need may be able to avail themselves of student loan programs to help support internet or other off campus living expenses.

Need assistance or advice?

Contact the ITS Help Desk at