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How to Find the Home Internet Plan You Need for This School Year

Date Published:  August 11th, 2022Date Updated:  October 10, 2022

Summary: It’s officially back-to-school season, and we can practically smell the Number 2 pencils… er, styluses. We ran the numbers on just how important internet access is for students and how to find the right high-speed internet plan for your household, no matter what grade they’re starting.

Somehow August is about to slip away, just like Taylor Swift warned us. And for most people, August means back-to-school season. While buying notebooks, pencils, binders, and packable snacks are probably at the top of your mind, making sure your internet is up to the task is important, too.

What internet speeds do students need? Is high-speed internet a necessity at every level of education? How can you get more reliable home internet? Let’s crack open the books.

How Do Families Prepare for Back to School?

The average U.S. household is planning to spend $864.35 on back-to-school shopping this year, compared to $684.79 just five years ago, according to Statista. But, according to Deloitte, they’re shopping in a variety of ways:

  • 60% of shoppers will check stock online before heading to the store (thanks, supply chain shortages)
  • 65% of consumers plan to use their smartphone to shop
  • 35% of households use social media to help them shop for back-to-school
  • 35% of consumers are shopping online this year, compared to 29% pre-pandemic
  • 29% of shoppers prefer to buy a used or refurbished product for their kids rather than a brand-new one

Everyone has different habits when it comes to shopping for the new school year. But there are differences even among those who use social media to assist with their shopping. Depending on the person, they could be getting online to browse products, read reviews or get recommendations, search for promotions and coupons, or post comments and reviews to other consumers.

Infographic about how many students use the internet for school, detailed in the next section below.

So not only is the internet an important part of shopping for the more traditional school supplies, it also is a school supply.

How Many Students Use the Internet for School?

Wondering how many K-12 students really use the internet for school? So were we. After rolling up our sleeves and digging around those dusty library shelves, here’s what we found from the National School Board Association.

  • 70% of teachers assigned homework that required access to broadband internet (speeds of 25 Mbps or higher)
  • Roughly 50% of students in grades 6-12 reported getting internet-based homework assignments every day
  • 40-50% of students in rural states lack reliable internet access at home, creating a homework gap

The homework gap is what happens when students aren’t able to complete assignments at home, often due to unreliable internet. That means they fall further behind and struggle to catch up. If you’re in a rural area and looking for a boost for school assignments, wireless home internet may be the right fit for you. It’s faster than satellite or DSL — and more reliable, too.

What Internet Speed Do Students Need?

Students have unique needs that change depending on where they are in their educational journey — and their internet plan should reflect that.

If you are a student or if you have students in your house, consider what they’re using the internet for. Uploading homework and conducting online research? Video conferencing and group projects? Online classes or tutoring sessions?

The more data-intensive activities a student is doing (think: anything that requires video or working with large files), the more internet speed they’ll need. Plus, think about what everyone else in the house is using the internet for. Does someone work remotely? Do you like to play video games in your spare time? You’ll need faster speeds for all of these!

You can use our general recommendations below or call our Internet Experts at 8666180264 for a personalized suggestion.

Number of Devices Activity Recommended download speed
2-4 Surfing the web, email, social media, occasionally streaming or gaming 100 Mbps or more
5-8 Online multiplayer gaming, HD streaming, photo sharing 500 Mbps or more
More than 9 Working remotely, attending online classes, playing multiplayer games, 4K streaming, multiple smart home devices 800 Mbps or more

The speed that’s right for your house might change as students get older and assignments become more complex. That’s why summer is a great time to reevaluate and make sure your plan is working for you.

What Should Students Look for in an Internet Plan?

The biggest feature to look for is fiber internet with no data caps or speed throttling. Data caps are a limit on how much you can do online. That means being careful you’re not streaming too much or attending too many virtual office hours. If you hit your data limit, your internet provider could use speed throttling to slow you down. Not fun.

EarthLink understands that the internet is what connects you to the rest of the world. Fiber is the future of the internet — that’s why none of our plans have data caps.

If you’re a college student, definitely keep data caps in mind, but also pay attention to contract lengths. College students tend to move every school year and often have roommates, so be sure to ask:

  • Can I transfer service to be in another roommate’s name?
  • Will there be an early termination fee if I transfer service?
  • Can we automatically split bills?

No matter what level of education you’re shopping for this month, make sure your home internet plan can keep up. Need some advice? Skip the social media search and just chat with one of our friendly Internet Experts at 8666180264.

Marie Flanagan

Marie Flanagan

Marie Flanagan is a contributing writer for EarthLink. She’s a life-long Atlantan with a passion for SaaS, IoT, AI, fintech, and everything technology. Her ideal offline situation is volunteering in STEM education for girls or on her front porch with a book.

See all posts from Marie Flanagan.