School Supplies for College Students Really Needed

Make sure you have the basic school supplies you’ll need for success in college. Despite the fact that college students spend most of their supply budget on textbooks, there are still some basic items you will need.

School Supply Shopping List

Notebooks, Paper, Binders, Folders

Many students keep a notebook or folder for each class, while others keep everything in a binder or five-subject notebook. Notebooks keep papers together without stray sheets. Make sure your notebook pages tear out cleanly or have some loose-leaf paper on hand if you need to turn in handwritten assignments. Pick up some printer paper too.

Pens and Pencils

The best way to take notes in class is with a pen, while pencils are better for subjects involving calculations, but most of the time it’s personal preference. Bring along a pencil sharpener or lead refills if you use pencils frequently.


Most likely, you were forbidden to write in your textbooks in high school. In college, marking up books is a way of life. Rather than underlining and making notes in pen, highlighters are a great way to highlight important points and new vocabulary.

Tape, Stapler, and Paper Clips

Fasteners are essential. Your term paper is due soon, so you don’t want to be searching for a stapler.


Ask your math or science professor for recommended models and functions. Graphing calculators can be expensive. Calculators are useful for everyday math like balancing your checkbook, even if you’re a history major.

Reference Books

A dictionary and thesaurus would be helpful for all students. Reference books vary by major, from foreign language dictionaries to research manuals.


It is possible to carry your books to class, but it is not very convenient. A rainy day is also a good time to ruin your notes. Backpacks are preferred by some students, while messenger bags appeal to others. Your college bag should last you for years if you purchase a high-quality one.


College computers are a useful resource, but are now a requirement at many schools. If your school requires all students to have a computer, you should include the cost of purchasing one in your financial aid calculations. Check out the school computer labs first if you’re unsure about buying a computer to see the quality of their equipment.

Laptops and desktops aren’t the only computer supplies available. Printing assignments requires a printer. You should also determine if you need an ethernet card or a wireless adapter to connect to the Internet on campus and in your dorm. If your computer has a CD burner, add blank disks to your shopping list if you want to transfer and back up files easily. Lastly, make sure you have all the required cords, cables, and power strips.

Shopping for School Supplies

As everyone prepares for the “back-to-school” rush, school supplies are everywhere. Retailers pull out their best deals on everything from glue sticks to laptops in late July and early August. Stock up if you’re a bargain shopper.

If you find yourself on campus without some studying necessities, the school bookstore also carries pens and Post-it notes. A folder stamped with your school’s mascot may cost more. If you need art materials or lab goggles for specific classes, the campus bookstore is your best choice.

Online shopping is available at most major office supply stores, including Staples, Office Depot, and OfficeMax.

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