Best VPNs for School and College
Many schools have taken it upon themselves to set restrictions on internet content, in an effort to keep their students (and faculty) focused and on-task.
However, in addition to restricting entertainment content, these content blocks often wind up keeping students from accessing web content needed for research and school-related topics.
By using a VPN, students and faculty alike can circumvent these blocks and get the information they need.
It creates an environment where the computer that you are on doesn’t think that you are located there and therefore allows you to access the blocked websites.
For the most reliable VPN to access restricted content at school, we recommend ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN offers a special deal – 3 months free and 49% savings on their annual plan.
(WARNING): Some school campuses will block access to the VPN provider page for you to subscribe.
After talking to university students across the country, we found out that many universities are actively blocking access to VPN sites when using the campus Wi-Fi connection.
Click here to get the workaround to access the VPN service page.
If you don’t want to read the whole article, here’s our list of the best VPNs for School:
- ExpressVPN Great for Speed, top-notch security, large server network and keeps your anonymity and privacy.
- NordVPN Has double VPN, six simultaneous connections, above-average privacy features.
- Surfshark Large network of servers, No data or bandwidth limits, Unlimited simultaneous device connections.
- Cyberghost Has super-fast speeds, an excellent customer support team, and 100% money-back guarantee.
- PureVPN Strong connection speeds, users proficient protection whilst streaming, Servers are located in most countries in the world.
Best VPNs For School
#1: ExpressVPN -Special Deal (3 months free for yearly plan)
Students can also access social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat safely, as this service offers the highest level of security in the field, which means your personal information is completely safe while using your school’s public WiFi.
They’re also anti-data logging and ensure the anonymity of your connection on their end as well, thus protecting your browsing information completely from anyone who wants to go poking around. Express VPN is quite fast. Download and upload speed differences were negligible when using Express vs. a regular connection.
They have servers in 78 countries. One of the few criticisms of Express is that each subscription comes with ‘only’ three simultaneous connections, one for desktop and one for a mobile device. This is less than NordVPN and PureVPN offer, but it should be noted that Express supports all operating systems and is a top choice as iPhone and iOS VPN, apps for Android VPN, Windows VPN, and Mac VPN.
They also offer a great money-back guarantee. If you’re unhappy with the service, you have 30 days to ask for a refund. If you decided to stick with them, though, and want to save, Express VPN has a really good referral program. For every person you refer who signs up, you get one month free, which is nothing to scoff at.
ExpressVPN is without a doubt our preferred VPN for many applications, and we also recommend it for bypassing content blocks at school. Sign up with ExpressVPN here.
For more details on this VPN service, you can visit our ExpressVPN review.
All five connections are uncapped with unlimited bandwidth, which is pretty rare. When tested, NordVPN showed a slight speed drop-off compared to a normal connection without a VPN, though it’s still fast enough for streaming.
They have servers in over 60 countries worldwide, which is about standard for the industry.
NordVPN does not data-log its users, going so far as to ensure the anonymity of your connection on their end as well, making it entirely untraceable.
If law enforcement demands information, the company can’t give them data they don’t have. Note that the company has a referral program that users should take advantage of.
If you get a friend to sign up, you’ll get a 20% discount on your service. In addition, you can enjoy one of the cheapest monthly cost in the market of $3.99/month with their 2-year plan with their 2-year special of 66% discount and a 30-day money back guarantee.
One of the few downsides with NordVPN is that it isn’t compatible with Linux, though you can use it with more standard operating systems such as Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
Surfshark is an ideal VPN provider to use when you are looking to browse the internet when you are at school or at college.
One of the reasons that we loved it as a VPN and highly rated it was that it provides such a high level of protection when users are connected to the internet through any means, but specifically a public WiFi. This is imperative when using your computer or mobile device in a school location where hackers and cybercriminals look to take advantage of the public networks to get hold of a person’s sensitive information and data.
Additionally, and importantly, Surfshark has such good technology in place that it allows users to bypass censorship that a school’s public Wifi may have put in place, so that users can still access all their favorite social media accounts and internet sites. This means Surfshark still allows school users to access their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts – amongst many more.
We also liked the fact that you can connect any number of devices you may have under one subscription plan which is great news if you are a student with limited funds. Plus, students are more likely to have several types of device that run different types of software. Surfshark can be used with Chrome or Firefox extensions as well as having apps for macOS, Windows, Linux, and Fire TV Stick. It can also be downloaded onto iOS or Android.
As for the price, Surfshark comes in at the cheapest VPN, Its plans start from as low as $1.99.
Finally, we like to see a no logs policy as standard – regardless of why a user wants a VPN. For students, a no logs policy, which Surfshark has thanks to being based in the British Virgin Islands, is imperative so that none of their online activity is recorded anywhere.
If you are a student in need of a good value VPN provider, look at Surfshark today.
That coupled with the speed of its connection makes it a tough competition to beat. If you’re still not sure how VPNs work, this is a good company to go with.
It has a great customer service team, with representatives available 24/7 to answer your questions via live chat or email.
They’re incredibly fast at responding to users’ questions too, with average email response times in less than 30 minutes. And now CyberGhost has a special deal! CyberGhost has an amazing 7-day free trial.
Their “try before you buy” deal can’t be beaten – not only do you get all the premium features of a paid account (most free VPNs impose limits), but you don’t have to put down a credit card.
It is 100% commitment free! If you aren’t sure if you need a VPN, CyberGhost is the best option! They also have a great worldwide network of servers, so even if you’re studying abroad, you can use their service.
If you’ve ever tried to check Facebook on your phone at a school campus before, you know that those server blocks usually apply to WiFi-enabled devices as well.
Luckily for you, CyberGhost VPN is compatible with every device you can think of. You can even use it on more than one at a time. Plus, CyberGhost VPN has a 30-day money back guarantee, so if you decide it’s not for you, you get a month to get your refund, no hard feelings.
And keep in mind that in terms of price, CyberGhost has the best value for your money at only $3.50/month with their 18 months subscription plan and such great features.
So whether you’re a teacher or a student, CyberGhost VPN is the way to go for getting around those annoying content blocks, and keeping nosy snoopers out of your web activity. More features on this VPN can be found on our Cyberghost review.
One of our preferred VPN for school is PureVPN based on some good features, such as a kill switch. If the VPN gets disconnected, it automatically closes your internet connection so that your data will always be safe.
There’s also split tunneling, which lets you decide which apps will use the VPN and which can use the regular connection.
This is very useful for school since you can set your Facebook and other social media apps to run through the VPN, and have your browser running through the normal connection for better speed, for example.
Most VPN services slow download speeds by an average of 6 percent. Conversely, when tested, PureVPN actually increased download speeds when connected to some of their servers, of which they offer 750+ in an industry-leading 140+ countries (!) It should be noted though that when it comes to upload speeds, PureVPN did slow down the regular internet connection by almost 5 percent.
Pure offers 5 simultaneous connections under the same plan, and unlimited bandwidth. If you’re unhappy with the service, PureVPN offers a 7-day money-back guarantee, which means you have a week to test it out and see if you like it. Overall, given unlimited bandwidth, data safety, and download speeds, PureVPN is also a VPN we recommend to get past content blocks at school.
More details on PureVPN features and costs will soon be found on our PureVPN review.
Why are Websites Blocked at School?
According to the American Association of School Librarians, 98% of America’s schools filter the online content available to students.
The school boards have set up various content blocks with the best of intention, mainly to protect children from ‘harmful content’, though this more often than not, includes even the most innocent of domains resulting in highly restrictive internet access.
Along with social media, pornographic and other harmful sites, there are many other popular sites including the likes of YouTube, Wikipedia, Google Translate , and even music streaming sites such as Pandora, that end up on the list.
With so many sites blocked, content that students may need to access for school projects and research is often hindered.
Schools argue that the website filtering and blocking are a means of protection, a moral imperative to shield students from the unsafe content floating across the web and to keep a high standard of online security.
Other than a moral drive, there’s also monetary reasoning involved – government programs such as the E-rate program provides discounts for schools through the purchasing of several communication services and products.
For schools to receive the federal funding they so need, schools need to adhere to the internet filters set out by the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) or face exclusion.
With teachers often far away from the computer labs in schools, the filtering becomes the only means of control, but it can be argued, has this control been taken a step too far?
Using a VPN, you can not only get around these irritating content blocks but keep your browsing totally private, so your activity cannot be tracked or monitored, even by the IT guys!
Why do You Need a VPN for School?
Students are subject to their school’s “Acceptable Use” restrictions when surfing the internet on campus. Schools impose a variety of restrictions that can inhibit users from doing things like visiting social media sites, streaming TV shows and movies, torrenting, and even checking email.
While draconian in nature, schools do this in an effort to keep students focused on their education, as well as network safety and bandwidth considerations. But schools are supposed to be environments where knowledge is shared freely and not censored. As well, these resources are essential for any student.
Now restrictions can be circumvented with the use of a VPN. Still on the fence? Here are three reasons to get a VPN for school:
Maintain a safe connection to public Wi-Fi. While in school, you are most likely using the school’s Wi-Fi. And while it is password protected, other people using the Wi-Fi can easily and maliciously hack your computer and cause irrevocable damage, like deleting term papers and notes, as well as holding your computer “ransom” for an outstanding fee most students cannot afford. Also, if you bring your laptop to a café to do school work, you can be easily hacked. A VPN not only protects but encrypts your traffic so those with ill-intentions cannot find you.
Unblock streaming and video game sites. Many schools ban these sites because they can eat up bandwidth and throttle the entire network. When you log into your VPN, you can bypass these restrictions and watch Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming sites, as well as play games.
Use torrenting sites. Most schools warn students of the danger of P2P sharing, and many universities even have rules against its use; levying harsh punishments regarding copyright infringement. With a VPN, you can choose a different server and the school will never know that you are using a torrenting site.
As mentioned above, you will most likely be blocked from the VPN page if you are on school campus. Here is what you should do:
Workaround to Unblock the VPNs on School Campus
Solution #1: Head on over to your favorite café or even a friend’s place, and use their non-campus internet connection to download a VPN.
Solution #2: If you can’t get off of campus, that’s okay. What you can do is turn your phone into a mobile hotspot! In just a few short steps, your device becomes a secure Wi-Fi network, which you can connect your computer to instead of the campus’ internet connection. Just keep in mind that any data you use as a mobile hotspot will be deducted from the total amount of data in your plan. Also, do not disable the password feature, or else anyone can hop on your makeshift Wi-Fi network.
- Check to make sure the mobile hotspot feature is activated in Settings.
- Click on ‘Wireless and Networks’ and choose ‘More Networks.’
- Choose the ‘Mobile Hotspot’ option. (Here’s a tip: because this feature uses a lot of power, keep your phone plugged into a charger.)
- Wait a few seconds and you will see a notification message regarding your new Wi-Fi connection.
- Now you can connect, visit the VPN site of your choice, and download the VPN. Your university will never be the wiser!
If you aren’t sure how to do it on your phone, this is a great page that offers “how to make a hotspot” simulations of all the latest phones. And don’t forget to turn your mobile hotspot off when you are done. Let us know in the comments below if this has helped you!
How to Choose a VPN for School and College
There are some things to consider when choosing the right VPN for school or college which include the following:
- Zero logs
- Fast speeds
- Incredibly strong encryption
- Being able to access geo-blocked content
If you have trouble unblocking your VPN in school you will have to get around the port block. To fo this you will need to run OpenVPN on port 443. This will allow you to slip through the encryption library and get around firewalls.
Deep Packet Inspection
Torrenting is something that college students can only dream about unless you have a VPN and know how to get around some of the restrictions in place. Colleges can block VPNs with firewalls being able to detect your encryption tools via Deep Packed Inspection. This can easily be bypassed by hiding your encryption protocols.
Why a Free VPN is Not Enough
A free VPN might seem enticing especially on a student budget, but the risks are just now worth it. There has to be a way to turn a profit for any VPN, either paid or free, so when you’re paying for a quality service, you know what information is being collected, but free VPNs usually keep your data for anywhere between 14 to 30 days which includes your geodata as well as your MAC address.
Snooping on your history is also something that you can count on when using a free VPN with your information being sold to the highest bidder.
How to Setup a VPN for School
To set up your chosen VPN all you need to do is download the app for your device and get things going. If you’re having trouble with the school’s system rejecting your connection you might have to look for a VPN that has a few different protocol options, with tunneling through SSL usually working in getting around some pretty difficult barriers.
Bottom Line for School VPNs
There is nothing more irritating than being on a school campus and facing endless, seemingly random content blocks.
Even something as simple as checking your e-mail can be impossible thanks to the rigidity of the content filters.
No matter what kind of device you’re using, if a school uses content blocks on your network, you won’t get through them without a VPN. By using a service like ExpressVPN, you can count on features like:
- 24/7 customer support
- Intuitive interface
- High speed
- User anonymity
Use a VPN like ExpressVPN at your school and watch content blocks melt away at your fingertips!