There are several options for new students to be able to use linux on their laptops. These are the four options we recommend.
Buy a laptop with linux preinstalled.
The main benefit of this choice is that you know the operating system will have working drivers, and fewer possible issues than if you install linux yourself. Same applies for macOS.
This will allow you to have both Windows and linux installed but is the most technical solution. You will need to format your hard drive into multiple partitions, and install linux on the new one. It may also require you to find and install drivers on linux.
Installing Virtual Box.
If you are hesitant about the first two options. Then installing virtual box will allow you to have a linux, windows, or macOS environment. The main benefit is that you do not have to change your current laptop environment.
This will allow you to ssh into the servers on campus, and maintain a persistent environment. The main issue is that it will be mostly command line programs that you can run.