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12 Essential School Supplies for College Students

Ashmeet Bagga
Packing for college can be overwhelming, no matter if you are heading back to college or just starting out. There are some school items that are really necessary for all college students. Let's take a look at these essential supplies.

Did You Know?

According to the National Retail Foundation's (NRF) 2019 Back-to-School and College Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, total spending by young adults and their families on school supplies and electronics to get ready for college is expected to reach around USD 26.2 billion.
Excited about returning to your campus or eager to start college life in a new surrounding? You must have already made a list about things that you require, that are important, and some stuff which is mandatory. Often, we fret about big things so much that we forget the small essential items.

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Instead of wasting money again on buying stationery or other items, why don't you check your cupboard to see if you have any school supplies left from your school year? Well if you don't, let me help you with 12 essential items that are really important for any student who will be starting college.
This is the first and most important item from school that you definitely require in college too. You can't carry all your stuff in your hands, unless of course, if you want to look like an unorganized student.
A backpack is ideally suited to store all your books, folders, notebooks, lunch, water, makeup (for girls), and other items that are required. You can invest in a plain bag that would last the entire semester. You can even buy a stylish sling bag, but opt for one that can accommodate all your stuff and is convenient to carry.


You need to take down notes in your class or maybe for your self-study. After all, these notes will help you to excel in your test. Nowadays, you can buy a notebook which has binders. These binders provide convenient partitions or sections to the book.
For instance, a six-subject notebook is convenient and inexpensive. You don't have to carry many notebooks around, you can write down your notes in 1 notebook for different subjects or classes.

Calendar Planner

From class tests to meetings to extracurricular activities, you are going to be busy, and there will be instances when you may miss out on a meeting or a class test, simply, because you couldn't remember, as there are so many things to do once you enter college.

Adhesive page marker

We all hate to search for that one particular page in our notebook or reference book especially during exams when we already are in a hurry. Adhesive page marker comes to your rescue. Marking your textbooks with these marker will save you time and effort.
There are variety of colors available, and it comes with an easy glue application. You can even write small notes on them, which makes it easy to refer pages.


Who doesn't love to color their textbooks with highlighters? These bright neon colors literary pop out of your pages. So, if there is an important point, instead of writing it down, you can highlight that point, making it easier to study during tests. It's an easy way to make your points and notes standout.


Even if you don't plan to take up a course that requires number crunching or calculations, you still need a basic calculator because you will have at least one basic math or science subject.
Your field will decide if you need to invest in a basic, graphing, or scientific calculator. But make sure to consult your professor before buying one, as graphing calculators are pretty expensive.


Some colleges make it mandatory to carry your own laptops, like maybe a business school will ask you to get your own laptop. If not, then you can always use the computer provided by the college.
The major benefit of a personal laptop is the convenience of access to course material and information it provides. Not to mention the fact that it can also double up as your entertainment and recreation tool.

Flash Drive

Flash drives are a thing of the past, since the advent of cloud storage, and Google drive. But you do need them in certain cases, like you can maintain physical custody of your important documents and files, which you can't risk saving them on the laptop.
While going for a presentation, you can simply insert them in the drive and present your topic. You don't require an Internet connection to recover your files.

Binders and folders

Many times, you get loose sheets as your class assignments, or some they simply prefer taking down notes on pages rather than a notebook. If you have some stray sheets for any of your course, you can organize these sheets with a folder or binder.
A binder is useful to store all your curriculum documents, like your forms, certificates, reports, etc.


I love a bouquet of fresh pencils, different types of pens, and, scented erasers. In fact, I used to carry a whole set of pens to college, just in case! These are very basic things, and you need them all the time. Even if you have the habit of taking notes digitally, you still need them for various other reasons.
An eraser is useful for any student who chooses science as his major field, or any arts or fashion designing student. Wherever drawings or sketching by hand is involved, you definitely need an eraser.


It's not that important, but you do need a stapler to pin pages together, especially if you have print outs of various assignments or papers. A mini stapler can be easily accommodated in your backpack.

Index cards

Index cards are really helpful when it comes to self-study. I highly recommend everybody to buy some index cards. You can write down important points or notes on these, the actual size on an index card is 3x5 inches.
They are easy to carry and helpful to revise or retain information on the go. Take a quick peek at these colorful cards, and you will remember all the points during your presentation.
There are other supplies too like an external hard drive, a notes pouch, printer papers, etc., whose requirement is an individual preference. One easy way to buy supplies is to go through your course subjects, and then accordingly, buy stuff which will be useful to you.