In my opinion, the whole “back-to-school” shopping is a huge, unnecessary media ploy that encourages people to buy frivolous, unneeded items so as to be completely prepared for school. The truth is, there are only a few essential school supplies, and the rest of the purchases are a waste of money.
- Laptop computer
The most essential school supply for college students is a laptop computer. Unfortunately, this is also the most expensive. However, if you stick with only what you need, you can purchase a reasonably-priced laptop that will last through your college years and beyond. The first step is to buy a PC over a Mac. Everything you will need to do in college can be done on a PC, and they are considerably cheaper on average. Secondly, make sure you buy only the essentials to add on to your laptop. Often, a built-in webcam is a good idea so that you can communicate easily with family via Skype (especially if you are going away for college). Other than that, however, the only other necessity is a recent version of Microsoft Office and of course wireless Internet access. College students can entertain themselves very easily as long as they have Internet.
It is better to get a few quality pens over a pack of cheap pens. It takes a lot of writing to run out of ink and as long as you can keep track of your quality pens, you only need four or five to last you through an entire year. Furthermore, you will not get the shooting pain in your elbow after in-class essays that you may get with the cheap pens. It is definitely worth a few extra dollars to get quality pens.
Pencils are also important writing devices, and in this case you can get quality without having to spend much extra money. Mechanical pencils are now comparable in price to many regular pencils, so it is definitely best to go with the mechanical pencils. They last longer and never need to be sharpened.
Folders are basically free (often ten cents apiece) but extremely useful. Buy a bunch at once and whenever you need to organize papers you will always have a folder available.
- Spiral bound notebooks
Spiral bound notebooks are quite inexpensive as well, and are simple yet versatile. If you run out of paper you can always just rip out a piece, or you can keep all the sheets of paper inside and use a separate notebook for each subject’s notes.
Whether you are a math major, a biology major, or an art major, it is always good to have a calculator. If you don’t think you will have to use the calculator much, you can buy a very basic kind, but if you are going into engineering, it is best to buy a TI-89 or better.
- Duct Tape
Here is where the top 10 essential school supplies for college lists takes a turn toward the unorthodox. Duct tape is incredibly useful and with only one roll, it will usually last the whole year. It is very reasonably priced and is always good to have in your drawer when you need it.
- Sharpies ®
Sharpies ® are also important to have in your drawer in a pinch, and they cost no more than a quality pen. Get two or three colored markers and a black one and you will be covered for any situation.
- Index cards
Index cards are great for studying, writing short notes, and organizing. They come in packs of 250 and will also last a whole year. Index cards are a must-have school essential, especially in college.
- Post-it ® Notes
Post-it ® notes are great for marking pages in a book, sticking to the wall as a reminder, or keeping track of papers in your desk. They are virtually free and almost always needed at school. They come in different colors and sizes and the variety is sometimes useful for organization.
There are other possible school supplies you might want for college, but frankly these are the most important. Having a laptop will take care of the calendar, your daily planner, and most of your organizational needs. Some of the high-priced organizational tools such as fancy, zippered, three-ring binders are just unnecessary. A lot of times they are used only because the student already has them to work with, but in reality the student can do without them. Just always determine what is the most efficient and cost-effective way to go about your schooling before you go out shopping.