However, for those who can't wait and wants to get the next-generation model with the latest chipsets and ports, the next inexpensive option is the 13-inch MacBook Air.
The 13-inch MacBook Air doesn't have a high-density Retina display or a Force Touch trackpad, but what it does have is is 2x USB, 2x Thunderbolt, MagSafe, SD card, and 3.5mm headphone jack, and a up to 2.2 GHz, 8 GB of DDR3 memory, and 512 GB of solid-state storage, all in an ultra-light package that won't break the bank.
The MacBook Air packs all the power most people need from a computer into a thin, light, strong aluminum wedge that's incredibly easy to carry around, and a cinch to use on your desk in class or on a lap on the couch. Because of its size — or lack thereof — the MacBook Air takes up minimal space in a bag or even tucked under the user's arm. Because it's a unibody, it also stands up to the wear and tear of life on the go. It also comes with a slew of ports, unlike Apple's latest ultra-light, the new MacBook. That means users can easily plug in all the peripherals they need, all at the same time.
Mark Spoonauer likes the 13-inch MacBook Air as well, writing for Laptop Magazine:
"Our top overall pick for the money is the 13-inch MacBook Air (US$ 999.00) because of its long battery life and strong performance from its 5th-generation Core i5 processor. But if you're willing to splurge on a sharper and more vibrant screen, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (US$ 1,299.00) is a fantastic choice."As do Brian Lam, Nathan Edwards, and Dan Frakes of The Wirecutter:
"The 13-inch MacBook Air is balanced. It offers great performance and battery life, the latest chips and ports, an unbeatable keyboard and trackpad—both things that other companies are still struggling to produce—an amazingly solid aluminum-unibody chassis, and a lack of outstanding flaws. It doesn't have a high-resolution Retina display, making the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro ever more appealing for people with more-demanding needs, and it's missing the very latest ports (USB-C and Thunderbolt 3), but we think those trade-offs are okay for most people, given everything the Air does right."That last part is advice worth taking right now: What anybody can get with the Air is a fine computer, but an outdated one. Apple may well update at least the specs and the ports as soon as next month, so if they can make do until October of 2016, please do.
Otherwise, if they absolutely need a new MacBook for college right now, the 13-inch MacBook Air remains the best bet.