If you’re a college student in the US, then you know campus Wi-Fi can be severely limited. Fortunately, a US VPN can help you get past those restrictions and regain your Internet freedom. Need some recommendations? Then check out ProPrivacy’s list of USA VPNs here. Don’t know how a VPN helps? Stick around for the details.
Why You Can’t Access Anything on School Wi-Fi
Simply put, academia believes you’ll be more productive if they block the fun side of the Internet. Well, that may be true to some extent – we’ve all procrastinated at some point when exams were right around the corner.
The problem is they often restrict sites like YouTube, which can be a great learning tool. More importantly, it’s completely free – in contrast to several hundred dollars’ worth of college textbooks. Even social media can have its uses if you’re working on a political science or sociology degree. Yes, we know you’d rather look at Instagram memes, but bear with us here.
YouTube is often blocked (or they throttle your connection to it) to save on bandwidth usage. Admittedly, having hundreds of students watching videos at the same time can really slow down campus Wi-Fi. It’s already slow as it is, so this decision isn’t without merit. However, the solution should be to invest in better Wi-Fi, not cripple students’ access to Internet resources.
In any case, most of these websites are blocked through simple firewall rules. Well, if you use a US VPN, you can get past them quite easily. In fact, people in restrictive countries use VPNs to bypass government censorship (see the Great Firewall of China).
It’s about the same, just on a massive scale and with a few more advanced techniques to detect VPN usage. Your campus ISP or network admin probably has some set up as well. Luckily, the US VPNs on ProPrivacy’s list use obfuscation techniques to pass by unnoticed.
Your Privacy on Campus Wi-Fi
Speaking of network admins, did you know that they can spy on everything you do online? In fact, it’s pretty much guaranteed if you connect to campus Wi-Fi on any of your devices or use a school-provided laptop.
Using a US VPN lets you encrypt your network traffic, which is just a fancy way of saying that any outsiders snooping in on your browsing activity will see nothing more than gibberish. After all, what you do online should be strictly your business. Not your college’s ISP, not their IT department, and certainly not government spy agencies’.
Unlock Worldwide Entertainment on Campus Wi-Fi
The US is lucky enough to have the largest Netflix library in the world, with just over 5,900 shows and movies to choose from. That doesn’t mean they have all the good stuff, though, as some shows could be region-exclusives.
Take It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, for instance. It’s only available on the UK Netflix library, likely due to licensing issues. You could also watch it on Hulu, but if you don’t want yet another streaming subscription, you’re better off using a US VPN to access shows from abroad.
How does it work? Well, a VPN can mask your real IP address, which lets services like Netflix know your location. Once you connect to a VPN server in a different country (say, the UK), you can access its library to your heart’s content. This even works on BBC iPlayer and similar platforms from around the world – letting you explore entire new catalogs of shows.
A VPN should also help you unblock services like Steam or let you play online multiplayer games. Keep in mind that your connection will be slower since your network traffic needs to pass through the VPN server first. As such, your in-game latency might not be ideal for a match if your campus Wi-Fi is already slow. It’s worth a try, at least.
Will Any US VPN Work?
College student budgets can be tight, so you might be wondering if a free VPN will do the trick. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. We’ve already mentioned your college’s IT department might use some advanced methods of detecting and blocking VPN traffic. Well, the free ones are the most vulnerable.
Moreover, Netflix and other streaming platforms do this as well. On the off chance your free VPN gets past campus Wi-Fi, it certainly won’t do a great job against the Netflix filters. The reason is that free providers don’t benefit from the same kind of funding. Paid VPNs can be blocked as well, but they can afford to spend time and money to get things working again.
Let’s say you only want a VPN to unblock some social media sites. That shouldn’t be a problem, right? Well, free VPN servers also tend to be slower – again, due to financial reasons. It’s even worse when you consider they have fewer servers too, meaning you’re sharing the connection with many other users. Yeah, be prepared for dial-up speeds in 2020.
That’s not even getting into the security issues of free VPNs. Selling your data to advertisers, blasting you with irritating ads, and even containing malware a third of the time – that stuff can cost you way more than the few dollars a month on a subscription.
This isn’t to say there aren’t legitimate free VPNs out there. But they severely limit your speed, number of servers, or impose data caps to get you to upgrade to a premium plan. So essentially, a paid VPN with extra steps. Why waste time when you could check out one of ProPrivacy’s recommendations instead?