This post is all about essential school supplies for college students.
Getting ready for college is an adventure so many things to do so little time! Thus, use this school supplies list to save you time!
School Supplies for College Students
- Mechanical Pencil Lead Refills
- Pencil Sharpeners
- Pencil Case
- Dry Erase Markers
- Sticky Notes
- Three-Hole Punch
- Loose Leaf Filler Paper
- Index Cards
- Shoe Box
- Rubber Bands
- Laptop Case or Bag
Get all the details on the school supplies you will actually use in college below!
School Supplies College Students Need: Pens
Pens are a have item for college must. You really don’t want to be that person who doesn’t have a pen on the first day of class. Your pen doesn’t need to be new it just needs to work.
Therefore search your high school pencil case, backpack or the entire house if you must to find a useable pen.
School Supplies College Students Need: Pencils
Just like you need a pen you also need pencils. Your pencils don’t have to be new either they just have to be usable. I read wooden pencils vs mechanical pencils debate on Reddit a few years ago and I thought it was the funniest thing.
In regards to preference either or is fine with me as long as they are #2. However, each type of pencil has advantages and disadvantages that may or may not make a difference in your choice.
In fact, one of the biggest advantages of a wooden pencil is the cost. Places like Walmart and Amazon typically offer major deals on back to school items. Hence, it is not uncommon to find boxes of quality #2 wooden pencils for cheap.
In contrast, mechanical pencils cost more but they are so convenient since you don’t have to worry about always having a sharpener on hand – all you need is your mechanical pencil lead refill and you’re set.
Overall, go for the type of pencil that makes your penmanship or drawing glow and buy a brand you can trust and depend on.
School Supplies College Students Need: Mechanical Pencil Lead Refills
If you are a major fan of mechanical pencils remember to stock up on your mechanical pencils lead refills because you definitely don’t want to run out of the lead in the middle of an exam.
Imagine how weird it may be asking the professor if they have an extra pencil you can use to continue filling out your scantron.
Plus, imagine how much trouble you can get in if you get caught asking your classmate sitting next to for a pencil.
However, if you ever find yourself in that situation ask the professor or the person who is invigilating the exam. Don’t ever ask your classmates to borrow items during an exam.
Firstly, it’s unfair to them because they too are trying to complete their exam on time, plus most importantly you can easily get them in big trouble if the professor thinks y’all are sharing answers.
Don’t be that student – get your ducks in a row and cross all your ts. Plan everything for a successful semester even your mechanical pencils lead refills – don’t chance it.
School Supplies College Students Use: Scantrons
Since I am talking about exams, remember to get some scantrons. Now, this is a purchase you will have to postpone until you have been to every class you’re enrolled in for the semester.
Trust me you definitely don’t want to purchase scantrons before going to the first class meeting of every class because more than likely you will end up purchasing scantrons in the wrong color.
Scantrons can be purchased in several colors including green, blue, red, and so on. However, you must purchase the color the professor uses.
Thus, waiting until you have visited every class is best because you don’t want to buy the wrong color, buy them and not one single professor uses them or buy way too many especially if you are on a tight budget.
Therefore, on the first day of class always ask the professor whether scantrons will be required for the class. Typically, if a professor is very organized you won’t have to ask.
In fact, that information will be stated in the syllabus and or the professor will announce it. However, it never hurts to ask, especially if you read the syllabus and its nowhere in sight.
Purchase Scantons in Bulk
In regards, to purchasing scantrons you definitely want to purchase in bulk – it’s cheaper and more convenient than standing on a long line waiting to cash out just minutes before your exam.
If you are considering buying scantrons in bulk definitely search around you will find amazing deals online.
The last time I purchased scantrons, I bought 100 for under $10. Yes, imagine, less than $0.10 vs the $0.25 they charged at university bookstore for just one. Talk about being robbed in the name of demand and supply.
The lesson to learn here is to buy your scantrons in bulk to save money – don’t overpay for scantrons.
In fact, overall don’t buy anything from the university bookstore unless your grade is at risk and you can’t find that item anywhere else.
School Supplies for College Students: Erasers
You will need a good clean eraser whether you buy wooden pencils or mechanical pencils. Especially, since the eraser on most wooden or mechanical pencils are not always the best. Furthermore, even when the erasers are high-quality they just don’t last long enough.
Therefore, remember to add an eraser to your school supply list. The eraser doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you could still use your eraser from highschool.
Unless you’re an art major there is a likelihood you may only have to purchase one eraser once during your college career. Plus, if you are really frugal probably never.
Erasers are one of the items college recruiters happily give students during college fairs and seminars. It’s great for them. In fact, it’s cheap marketing. You get a free eraser with a company logo you will most likely see until the logo disappears.
School Supplies College Students Need: Highlighters
There’s always a smile on my face when used textbooks have been highlighted by the previous owner. This makes studying so much easier. No need to read and highlight the most important concepts all I have to do is concentrate on reading. In contrast, when you’re not so lucky you need highlighters.
These colorful markers are college students bread and butter. In fact, I don’t think I would have been able to study properly without some highlighters. So whoever invented these deserves an award.
You can use these on index cards, textbooks you own not rented textbooks. However, I have rent a few books from Amazon that were actually highlighted. I was very grateful, but still, it was a little surprising to see the books highlighted especially since some students do find highlighted notes distracting.
Anyway, highlighters can also be used on notebooks, printables, journals, planners agendas you name it. If it’s paper and you need to make important details stand out highlighters get the job done.
They are available in several colors but the pink and yellow are my favorites. If you buy a few colors you can easily mix the colors together to create other colors.
For instance, if you layer the pink highlighter on top of the yellow highlighter your text will be highlighted in orange. Therefore there is no need really to buy an orange highlighter. Thus, definitely add highlighters to your list.
School Supplies College Students Need: Pencil Case
Being organized simplifies college life big time! Therefore start by organizing your stationery with a pencil case. Now some backpacks include a built-in pencil case which is great.
In this case, you don’t need to purchase a pencil case unless you have several backpacks you alternate during the week. Yes, I know having several backpacks or school bags is a thing.
In fact, I too had a couple of school bags plus a backpack so it isn’t uncommon. Actually, it very helpful especially if your class weekly schedule is unbalanced.
For instance, if the majority of your classes are scheduled back to back on Mondays having a bigger school bag to accommodate textbook, notebooks, binders, stationeries and so on is best for Mondays. However, for other days when you don’t have many classes, a smaller school bag or backpack makes more sense.
Therefore, sometimes having just one backpack isn’t practical for everyone and in these situations being able to simply transfer your stationeries organized in a pencil case from one school bag or backpack to another without having to dig through several pockets to find them is helpful.
However, your pencil case doesn’t have to be new or expensive. In fact, a simple roomy pencil case with a strong zipper is all you need.
School Supplies College Students Need: Scissors
A pair of scissors is one of the items you will be very happy to have at college. However, it isn’t a high priority item like notebooks, pens, pencils or a binder.
Therefore, it is not really one of the items you use often. In, fact after organizing your dorm room, the need for a pair of scissors dramatically decreases. However, when you really need a pair of scissors you will be grateful for owning one.
At college having a pair of scissors come in handy especially for class presentations and special projects. Plus, it is very useful for opening mails, organizing your dorm room or college apartment and so forth.
However, in college, that’s not all it’s good for! In fact, if you love indulging in a few midnight snacks and your roommate is a light sleeper then a pair of scissors will help you open your bag of Cheetos or Doritos on so on without disturbing the peace.
Yes! Big bonus! Imagine eating your midnight snacks while burning the midnight oil in silence and being considerate at the same time. If this isn’t a major advantage of owning a pair of scissors in college I don’t know what is. Therefore remember to add a pair on your college shopping list.
School Supplies College Students Need: Dry Erase Markers
Dry erases markers are very useful during studying especially if you’re a hands-on learner. While dry erase markers can usually be found in classrooms you can’t always be sure to find one especially when you really need one.
Therefore, it really isn’t a bad idea to stock up on a few. Personally, there have been times I spent more than a few minutes searching for a dry erase marker that wasn’t all dried up. It happens, especially during midterm and final exams when students are forming more study groups and are using classrooms to study more frequently.
Hence, purchase a few dry-erase markers. You don’t need a branch. In fact, two will be fine just remember to always carry at least one is your school bag or backpack because you never know when you will need to use it, especially during exam time.
School Supplies for College Students: Sticky notes
Sticky notes are your best friend! They come in different colors, shapes, and sizes. In all, they are affordable and very convenient to use.
In fact, using sticky notes as bookmarks was my thing. It definitely, made preparing notes and studying so much easier because it kept me on track. In fact, if it is difficult for you to stay on track especially after taking a break from preparing notes and studying then use sticky notes to guide you.
While sticky notes are notorious for having limited space for writing, there’s still enough space for you to note exactly where you stopped reading and most importantly a little summary of what you read last to help you stay on track when you resume studying later on.
School Supplies College Students Use: Calculator
A calculator is one item you will have to buy sooner than later. In fact, depending on your major and or classes owning a certain type of calculator becomes a requirement that even outranks having the required textbook.
Therefore, if a calculator is a requirement for any class you will have no choice but to invest in one because without one passing some classes is impossible.
However, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing one until you’ve been to your first set of classes because in most cases the type of calculator you require depends on the class. For instance, while a Calculus class requires a graphing calculator, a Finance for Business class demands a financial business calculator.
Therefore, if you’re a business college student be prepared to invest in at least a graphing and business calculator. Unless you can find one calculator that does it all. I wouldn’t be surprised if these exist nowadays. However, personally, I had to invest in both.
School Supplies College Students Use: Stapler
Two things you probably don’t want to do in class is open a pack of gum and put out your stapler just before assignments are submitted.
You’re probably thinking why? Well, let’s just say there’s a high possibility your gum will be gone before the class starts and your stapler is about to make rounds around the class unless you’re that girl with the pokerface no one wants to mess with.
Now I know sharing is caring, however, it’s always better to have your own stapler instead of depending on your classmates who are probably too shy to say no.
Therefore, remember to add one to your college shopping list.
School Supplies College Students Use: Staples
Owning your own stapler is great. However, it is pointless without staples. Therefore, remember to get some staples for your stapler.
In general, staples are very affordable especially if you buy them in bulk.
However, before buying staples ensure you are buying the right size to avoid the hassle of returning them to the supplier.
If you are really unsure of the size, research the stapler to find compatible staples.
School Supplies College Students Use: Pocket Folders
If you are enrolled in several classes things can get hectic really quick if you are unorganized especially during midterm exams and final exams.
Thankfully, pocket folders can help bring order to this type of chaos easily. In fact, they are great for neatly storing and, organizing notes, syllabus, handouts, flyers and additional class materials within minutes.
Therefore, consider getting at least one pocket folder for each class especially if you want to stay organized and focused from the beginning to the end of the semester – your future self and grades will thank you.
School Supplies College Students Use: Binders
Binders are a great alternative to pocket folders especially if you intend on moving around with your syllabus, notes, handouts, and additional class instructions often.
Unlike, pocket folders binders are more stable and can better withstand the wear and tear associated with heavy usage.
Plus, the binder rings help secure your documents better than a pocket folder especially when you’re busy on the move dealing with college life.
School Supplies for College Students: Three-Hole Punch
Adding your syllabus, notes, handouts, and additional class instructions to your binder will not be possible unless professors or instructors pre-punch them which is highly unlikely. Thus, a three-hole punch is a must if you are buying binders.
In general, a three-hole punch is affordable and can easily last you up to four years. Therefore, add on to your list – you will enjoy the ease of adding documents to your binder.
School Supplies College Students Use: Loose Leaf Filler Paper
Some students prefer binders for note-taking and organizing other class materials. If you are one of these students who prefer using a binder over notebooks for note-taking, then buying loose-leaf filler paper in bulk is a must.
Personally, I think using both a binder and notebooks can help anyone build a solid study plan. The binder note-taking method is great for note-taking in class while the notebooks are great for rewriting notes and storing them.
This method can help you learn and retain new concepts easier. Plus, you will always have backup notes just in case your binder is lost or stolen during mid-term exams or final exams.
School Supplies College Students Use: Notebooks
Nowadays note-taking isn’t only restricted to notebooks or binders. In fact, it is not uncommon for students to use iPads and laptop for note-taking.
However, if you prefer good handwritten notes for studying notebooks are very affordable. In fact, you can easily purchase one for each subject without breaking the bank.
School Supplies College Students Use: Index cards
In general, index cards are great for studying. In fact, they are particularly useful and can easily help you study better for more difficult classes.
Therefore definitely add a few packs of index cards to your college shopping list. Furthermore, also consider using a shoebox and rubber bands for storage.
School Supplies College Students Use: Planner
Benjamin Franklin supposedly once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” These are wise words indeed. In college, distractions are everywhere and if you fail to plan failure is almost guaranteed starting with bad grades.
Therefore, stay organized using a planner and focus on your primary objectives.
Planners like Erin Condren are great however they are pricey. Instead, purchase an affordable student planner to help you stay organized and focus.
School Supplies College Students Use: Laptop
If there’s one thing on this list that’s an absolute must is a laptop. In fact, owning a laptop in college makes college life so much easier.
However, before buying a laptop do your research to ensure the laptop meets your expectations and can at least last you through your college years.
Relating: College Laptop Tips Buying Guide
School Supplies College Students Use: Laptop Bag
A decent laptop can set you back a couple of hundred dollars even with the best discounts.
Therefore, it’s important to protect your laptop using a case or bag especially if you have no intentions of purchasing another one before graduating from college.
School Supplies College Students Use: Laptop Case
Some people prefer using laptop bags, some prefer using laptop cases and some people prefer using both. After using both, I am #teamlaptop case.
For, me using the case alone is less bulky. Thus, I can easily slide my laptop between my textbooks and notes and not worry about an unravel spiral note wire accidentally scratching the surface of the laptop.
On another note, if you keep liquids in your bag then opting for a waterproof laptop case might be a better option.
School Supplies College Students Use: Backpack
A solid backpack can last you years. Imagine I still have my backpack from undergrad. Yes, it was solid! It even lasted through graduate school.
Therefore, invest in a high-quality backpack from the beginning and you probably won’t need to replace it during your college years.
School Supplies for College Students: Other Supplies for College Students
Other supplies for college students can be found on this list: Extensive Off To College Packing Checklist Every First Year College Student Needs.