Virtual private networks (VPNs) have become an essential tool for students looking to circumvent restrictions at school and access the open internet. School firewalls often block access to popular websites and services in the name of limiting distractions. But this censorship can negatively impact learning and creativity.
VPNs allow students to securely bypass firewalls, unblock prohibited sites, avoid throttling by the school’s internet service provider (ISP), and shield their online activity from prying eyes. Whether looking to tap into blocked educational resources or gaming sites, a VPN is the ideal solution.
This guide will examine how schools block internet access, the best VPNs for getting around these restrictions, and key considerations when choosing a VPN as a student.
How Schools Block Internet Access
School IT administrators utilize several techniques to limit student access to parts of the web:
Firewalls and Site Blockers
Powerful firewall appliances filter web traffic and prevent access to categories of websites like social media, gaming, streaming platforms, and more. Popular blocking programs like Lightspeed and Securly are used.
Keyword Monitoring and Tracking
Schools analyze web searches and traffic to flag and filter specific keywords. Students trying to research blocked topics may have requests denied.
By throttling student bandwidth, schools intentionally slow connection speeds on campus to discourage video watching and large downloads.
Increasingly, school firewalls will detect and block known VPN server IP addresses to prevent circumvention of restrictions.
VPN services that offer robust encryption, obfuscation tools, and diverse server locations can successfully bypass even the most restrictive school blocks.
Top VPNs for School and College
The best VPNs for students need to have fast connections, widespread servers, and advanced ways to get around firewalls. Here are top-rated options:
With over 5400 servers worldwide, NordVPN provides ample ability to route around school VPN blocks.
Manageable Costs and Performance
Plans start at only $3.29 per month, and speeds are fast enough for HD video.
Strong Digital Security
NordVPN offers best-in-class encryption, a kill switch, and ad/malware blocking.
Ideal for Privacy Protection
The strict no-logs policy, obfuscated servers, and Onion over VPN option provide private connections.
ExpressVPN unlocks school website blocks with its 3000+ global servers.
Affordable and Reliable
At $8.32 per month, ExpressVPN reliably unblocks sites and defeats throttling.
Excellent for Media Streaming
Media servers optimize ExpressVPN for lag-free watching of HD video and shows.
Proven No-Log Policy
With a commitment to user privacy, ExpressVPN keeps no activity or connection logs.
This budget-friendly VPN punches above its weight with powerful blocking avoidance.
Low Cost and Effective at Unblocking
Starting at only $2.49 monthly, Surfshark can bypass firewall restrictions.
Strong Security Features
AES-256 encryption, a private DNS, and a kill switch maintain security.
Preserves Digital Freedom
No activity or connection logs are kept, and unlimited device connections protect all your gadgets.
4. Private Internet Access (PIA)
PIA is a low-cost option, but speed and reliability suffer compared to rivals.
Solid VPN Option, But Performance Issues Exist
PIA works to avoid blocks, but speeds are inconsistent, and connections can be spotty.
Some Key Features Cost Extra
You must pay more for options like port forwarding that are free on other VPNs.
This user-friendly VPN is great on Macs but has some privacy concerns.
Performs Well on Mac Devices
With dedicated apps, CyberGhost excels at bypassing firewalls on MacBooks and iMacs.
Logs IP Addresses
CyberGhost maintains anonymized logs of IP addresses, raising questions about true privacy.
Based in Singapore, Ivacy offers cultural insight to Asian students along with web access.
Highly Affordable Pricing
One of the lowest costs in the industry at just $1 per month makes Ivacy attractive to budget-minded students.
Multiple Anonymous Payment Options
Ivacy accepts anonymous payments via Bitcoin and gift cards, enhancing privacy.
This self-managed VPN has the server count to avoid school blocks.
Reliably Unblocks Websites
PureVPN’s huge server network across 180 locations avoids firewall filters.
Very Fast Connections
Upload and download speeds are swift enough for HD streaming without buffering.
The free version of ProtonVPN offers a limited but useful option for students.
Decent Free Version Available
Students can test out ProtonVPN’s blocking capabilities without paying initially.
Preserves Digital Freedom
ProtonVPN has a strict no-logs policy and allows P2P filesharing.
Finding the right VPN for accessing a free and open internet while at school comes down to capabilities and cost. For the best all-around bypassing of restrictions on a budget, Surfshark and NordVPN have the tools needed to unlock school firewalls. ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN also excel at defeating censorship for students seeking digital freedom.