College School Supplies List

Blue school supplies on grey background
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Heading to college? You'll soon find that your work is a little more intense compared to high school, so you will need the right supplies to help meet the challenge. A basic list that includes lined paper, folders, pens, and pencils, is a given. But to get the most out of your study time, you'll need a few extras. The items listed here should cover most all your bases, although your professors will likely hand out a syllabus during the first week of class that will list additional items specific to that particular course.

To Keep With You

Whether you use a backpack or a tote bag to carry your stuff around, make sure these items are always inside, along with the basics listed above:

  • Post-It™ Flags: Don't ever read an academic book without sticky note flags! These little wonders are great for keeping track of important passages when reading a book. They're also handy for marking pages when writing book reviews and research papers
  • Student Planner: Every professor will supply students with a syllabus that lists assignment due dates and test dates. You'll want to record these dates right away! As soon as you receive that syllabus, start recording your due dates. You should also consider using the sticky note flags for test days or due dates. From day one, the planner will become your new best friend when it comes to staying on top of your studies.
  • Tiny Stapler: To make sure you don't lose important information, keep a stapler on hand for those times when professors hand out stacks of papers for you to read, and for assembling and turning in assignments of your own. Your friends will love you if you're always equipped with this essential tool.
  • Highlighters: Highlighters are useful for pointing out important terms and definitions in workbooks and articles. You can also use different colors of highlighter to create a code for different topics when conducting research.
  • Calculator: If you sign up for any kind of math class, expect to invest in the right calculator for the job.
  • MLA Style Guide: Most freshman-year classes require writing essays—and, depending on your major, you might write essays for the majority of your classes until you graduate. In any event, most professors will expect you to use MLA guidelines. They'll be looking for very specific formatting on title pages, essays, and bibliographies. The style guide will show you how to format citations, page numbers, and more.
  • Index Cards: You'll go through hundreds of index cards in college. Nothing can compete with them when it comes to memorizing terms and definitions, and flashcards are essential for studying for tests.
  • Memory Stick: These little devices are sometimes called flash drives or jump drives, but the name is not important. You'll need a portable storage device of some kind for backing up copies of your work.
  • Blue Book: These small, blue-colored booklets are used for essay-type exams and are available for purchase at your university bookstore. You should keep one on hand at all times since test dates can sneak up on you.

For Your Study Space

Carve out a spot in your dorm room, bedroom, or other space, and devote it specifically to your studies. It should hold a bright lamp, a desk large enough to work on with your computer or tablet, and a printer if you choose to buy one instead of using those in the computer lab.

It should also have enough blank wall space to hold a large calendar and a bulletin board. Here are our suggestions on how to stock this space:

  • Big Wall Calendar: Record all due dates on a big wall calendar that you can see when you enter your room.
  • Colored Stickers: Use color-coded stickers on your big wall calendar, like blue dots for test days and yellow dots for assignment due dates.
  • Printer paper: Keep a stock of paper on hand for printing out assignments. Don't be late turning in a paper because you couldn't print it out!
  • Post-It Cover-Up Tape: This tape is great for studying for a test. Use it to cover up keywords in your notes, a textbook, or a study guide, and voilà, you have a fill-in-the-blank test. It sticks lightly to the paper to cover up words or definitions, so you can cover up a word, print on the tape, and peel it off to see if your answer matches the answer underneath the tape.
  • Glue, Scissors, and Tape: You may not need these items very often, but when you need them, you really need them.
  • Bulletin Board and Pins: Organize your life and keep family photos close at hand with a bulletin board.

Luxury Items

These are by no means necessary, and they can be expensive, but they will make your study time much more productive.

  • Smartpen by Livescribe: This is a favorite tool for math students, who always seem to "get it" when the teacher lectures and works out problems, but then "lose it" when they sit down to work the problems on their own. The Smartpen will allow you to record a lecture while taking notes, and then afterward place the pen tip on any word or drawing and listen to the part of the lecture that was taking place when those notes were recorded. 
  • Post-It™ Easel Pads: This item is useful for brainstorming, especially in a study-group setting. It's basically a pad of giant sticky notes that you can cover with a mind-dump of notes, list items, ideas, etc., and then stick to the wall or any other surface.
  • Notebook Computer: You will have access to computer labs on campus, but a notebook computer will free you up to do your work anywhere. If you have a laptop already, great, but you may find a notebook to be easier to use, more compact, and lighter to carry. 
  • Printer/Scanner: You'll be able to print your work out on your school's printers, but having your own is much more convenient—and it will allow you to check your work more easily. Make sure to get one with scanning capabilities. Scanners can be used to create study guides from your books, which will help you in everything from preparing for tests to writing a research paper.
  • Laptop or Computer Notebook: Again, you'll have access to computer labs on campus, but owning a laptop or computer notebook with a click-on keyboard will free you up to do your work anywhere.
  • Smartphone: While your professors will likely not allow phones in their classrooms, having access to a smartphone will enable you to use a wealth of education-specific apps once you are away from the classroom.