Are you looking for the best school supplies for college? If so, you’ve come to the right post.
I’m going to share the ten best college school supplies you will absolutely need regardless of your major or where you go to school.
Let’s dive in.
Disclosure: *This post contains affiliate links which means that I may receive a small commission at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.
1. Spiral Notebooks For Each Class
Spiral Notebooks are one of the most important school supplies for college.
In college, you’ll have to take A LOT of notes and you will need a good place to keep them so you can easily refer back to them when it’s time to study for your exams.
And that’s why you need spiral notebooks! Spiral Notebooks are an excellent place to store your lecture notes (and your homework) because you won’t have to worry about pages falling out and you’ll have the peace of mind that everything is all there.
However, as I shared in this post, I highly recommend that you get a notebook for EACH class.
You DO NOT want to mix your notes from two different classes in the same notebook because it’ll become hard to find information when you need it and it will take you 10x longer to study because your notes will be spread out in different places.
And trust me, you do not want to be in that situation when Finals come.
It’ll be a major nightmare if you have to sift through 13 weeks of notes from various classes to find the information you need to study and could cost you on your exam.
Whether you’d prefer a wide-ruled notebook or a college-ruled notebook is entirely up to you.
I highly recommend, however, that you get a thick notebook (150 pages or more) like this one, so you avoid going through multiple notebooks.
I made the mistake of buying a cheap 50-page notebook and went through it in a matter of weeks!
By the end of the semester, I ended up with 2.5 notebooks full of notes.
This made things super annoying because it meant I had to bring multiple notebooks just in case I needed to refer to my earlier notes.
During finals, I had to hop back and forth between notebooks to study. It was such a pain.
I love this notebook because not only will it give you enough pages to store all your notes, it comes with a storage pocket where you can store your class syllabus (which you’ll have to refer to almost daily in college) and any handout your professor gives you. It’ll all be right there in one place.
If you would like to learn how to organize your notebook and take notes strategically to get College A’s, check out my post: How to Take Notes Like A 4.0 Student
2. Expanding File Organizer
The next best school supply for college is the expanding file organizer. Like your notes, you’ll receive a lot of handouts throughout the semester:
- Your syllabus
- A study or report
- Additional supplemental readings
- An article that your Professor found
- Powerpoint Slides, and
- other Print Outs
Many of these handouts will become extremely important when you begin preparing for your mid-term and finals since Professors love to test from handouts to see if you’ve been paying attention.
But one thing these handouts have in common is that they are not hole-punched and will not attach to your notebooks unless you paste them in there, which makes these papers easy to use.
And that’s where the expanding file organizer comes in!
The expanding organizer folder provides a great and secure place for you to store all of your handouts so you don’t have to fear them falling out of your notebook or getting lost and crushed at the bottom of your backpack.
I recommend this expanding file organizer because it is perfect for a full-time student.
It provides 6 pockets that will allow you to store (and keep separate) your notes and handouts for 5 classes +1.
And trust me, you’ll want the +1.
When you walk onto campus, you’ll find representatives from different clubs pushing fliers into your hand to let you know about an upcoming event they hope you’ll show up to.
You’ll also find random guys handing you fliers to let you know about their epic party happening off-campus.
And if you’re involved on campus, even a little bit, you’ll receive plenty of handouts from your leader that he or she will expect to refer to throughout the semester.
As such, that 6th folder becomes your “miscellaneous folder” for all the other handouts you might get outside of class.
This folder is also great because it comes with a rope to keep your file organizer locked when it’s not in use.
That means if your backpack ever falls upside down on its head, your handouts will remain secure in their respective pockets and not spill all over the place in your bag.
Even if your notebook comes with a storage folder, it is still good to have an expanding file organizer because the storage folder usually can hold a very limited amount of paper.
And if your teacher is the “handout happy” type or you want to have a physical copy of the PowerPoint, you’re notebook’s folder isn’t going to cut it. It’ll pop.
As such, play it safe and get the expanding file organizer.
Now, I don’t think I need to explain why this is a great school supply for college. You know that you’ll be writing a lot, lol! But because you’ll be writing a lot, you’re going to want to get a really good pen.
For this reason, I’d like to share with you what I believe is literally the best pen on the planet:
(Drum roll please)
The black Paper Mate Pen.
This pen is LIFE!!!!
Its ballpoint is smooth and sleek, providing the best writing experience. It is also super comfortable to hold because it has a round body and doesn’t have edges all the way around like a lot of other pens do. Because of the comfort it provides, you’ll have fewer hand or wrist injuries.
Any trust me, you’ll want comfort since you’ll be writing so much!!
Most importantly though, it doesn’t spill ink or dry out quickly like other narrow, pointy pens do.
I recommend that you get the box of 60 (which you can get for just $8, yass!!) because you’ll go through a lot of pens in college. You’ll lose one, someone will ask you for one and never return it, or downright steal a pen from you.
So to avoid buying pen packet after pen packet, get the box of 60.
Another item that you should have in your arsenal of school supplies for college is highlighters. Although you’ll be writing a lot of notes, it will not always be feasible or necessary to write every detail down.
You will also not always have the time to read and reread your books and notes in search of specific information. Instead, you’ll want a way to find information in your textbook, reading materials, and notes fast; and that’s what the highlighters do.
Definitely make sure you have at least one highlighter on hand so that way you can highlight and quickly refer back to all the good and helpful bits.
And if you taking a professor who has a reputation for cold calling, highlighters will be your lifeline.
I speak from personal experience. When I took constitutional law in my college, my professor employed the Socratic method of teaching’ a.k.a. cold-calling.
Because I didn’t always have the time to write full case briefs, I highlighted the parts of the cases the professor would ask about: The issue, the facts, the applicable law, the arguments, and the judge’s analysis and rule. Saved by my highlighters, I was always ready and I got an A in the class!
No, you do not need every color of the rainbow to succeed as a college student. (You can see what I think about color-coding your notes, here.) If you just want to use a couple of colored highlighters at a time, that is fine.
Here is a quick link if you’d like to put a pack of highlighters in your cart on Amazon now.
5. Sticky Notes
Sticky Notes are the next best college school supply you’ll definitely want to have with you in college.
As you know, sticky notes acts as placeholders or bookmarks for your textbooks and notebooks.
But they can also be used to jot down questions, reminders, and passwords (trust me, you’ll create a lot of passwords in college!!).
And if you don’t like writing in your textbook or you’re borrowing a textbook from someone who doesn’t allow hand notes, then sticky notes is your next best thing! They’re big enough to write notes on but small enough to fit in your textbook or paste later into your notebook.
If you want to get A’s in college, get you some flashcards! In college, you will be tested A LOT on new words, concepts, and ideas you learn in class. You’ll also take a bunch of multiple-choice exams.
And guess what’s the best way to get those definitions, concepts, and information grilled into your mind?
You guessed it: Flashcards!
You can take your notes, turn them into flashcards, and drill and test yourself until you’ve got everything memorized and you feel ready for the test.
Whether you prefer black and white flashcards or multi-color flashcards is completely up to you. One thing I will recommend that you have with your flashcards is an index card box to place them in. The last thing you want is for your deck of flashcards to spill all over your bag or for one of your cards to go missing.
Onto the next school supply for college.
7. Thumb drive
Now, unless you have a reliable laptop, fax machine, printer, scanner, and the entire Adobe Suite, and you will never take a class that requires you to give a PowerPoint Presentation, you can skip this section.
If not, keep reading.
You absolutely need a thumb drive!
If you need to print your essay out but you don’t have a printer, that’s where your thumb drive comes in.
All you would have to do is transfer your essay file onto your thumb drive and then bring your thumb drive to the nearest printer station to have your essay printed.
Spilled coffee on your printer and need to borrow your school’s computer for awhile? Same thing! Just plug your thumb drive into the computer and save your work to the thumb drive.
I’m telling you! Next to highlighters, having a thumb drive is a lifesaver.
And you don’t need anything fancy. Just a thumb drive that does the job. This is the one that I personally used in college.
At first thought, you may think that headphones do not fall under the category of school supplies for college but they do!
You’ll need headphones almost as much as you need your notebooks and pens.
You’ll need headphones when:
- you want to block out outside noise when you study
- put on music while you study or do homework
- watch something privately on your computer during a study break, or
- listen to recorded lectures and videos more clearly.
As such, get you some good headphones.
Preferably wireless headphones so you’re free to walk around if you need to get up and get something but don’t want to disconnect from what you’re listening to.
If you’re apart of the apple family (iPhone, iPad, iWatch, or iPod Touch), then I recommend that you get air pods.
Unlike the other headphones on the market, air pods’ battery lasts up to 24 hours without charge, which you’ll definitely want since you’ll be using your headphones all the time!!
They also provide an awesome sound (cuz it’s apple) and a whole host of additional smart experiences when you connect the pods to your Apple devices.
But if you’re not apart of the family (I’m team Android too!), I highly recommend Powerbeats High-Performance Wireless Earphones.
These earphones have a 15-hour battery life, superior sound, and provide extra support on your ears so that they never fall off. Plus they were rated “Amazon’s choice” for its nearly perfect 5-star rating from nearly 7,000 people.
The next and most important school supply for college is a laptop.
I don’t need to tell you why you need a laptop. You’ve probably owned at least one or two before reading this post.
If you got a good laptop, then check this off your list and skip this section.
But if you got a computer on its last leg, it makes random noises, spazzes out on you, or takes forever to turn on, I’m going to be a true friend again and tell you the truth: you need a new laptop ASAP.
Don’t you dare take that laptop to school with you next semester.
There is NEVER a good time for your computer to crash and burn on you when you’re in college. You need to invest your money into something good and reliable. Something that will take you all the way.
While I’m team Android, I am not team “buy 3 laptops in college.”
Yep, that’s how many laptops I went through in college and parts of post grad because I kept buying a PC.
My husband, on the other hand, bought a Mac book pro in college and SEVEN years later he still has it.
In fact, I’m using his computer as I write this post because my fourth PC has crashed and burned. I get my first Mac book Air (valentine’s gift from my husband) tomorrow!
His computer is as quick as a new computer and he has never gotten his computer serviced.
So I am speaking from experience when I tell you that you should get a mac. I’ve learned my lesson. I could have bought one mac computer for the price of 3 PCs.
But just in case your thinking “Nope, Jessica. I’m team ‘buy three laptops” right now because I’m broke,” no explanation is needed.
I got you.
If you have to get a PC, finnne.
I did some research just in case and found this beauty: The Acer Swift 3 AMD. This has everything you need as a college student, which honestly comes down to two things: Good memory and good battery life!
This computer features 8Gs of memory (which is A LOT of storage space) and 13 hours of battery life (so it’ll stay awake almost as long as you do!)
Also, it’s super functional, has super sleek features, a great LED screen, and was voted one as one of the best laptops for students by Tech Youtube Channel Giant, Hardware Canucks. You can learn more about in their thoughts on the Acer Swift 3 in the video below:
Finally, you’ll need a place to put all of your school supplies for college.
Finding a really good backpack is important. You are going to be carrying a lot of textbooks, notes, your tech, pens, and everything else you decided to stuff in there.
Therefore, you’ll want to get a bag that includes the following:
- looks good (because of course, who wants an ugly bag?)
- super functional
- lots of space
- has a laptop compartment
- and provides great back support.
I found two backpacks that do all those things!!
The first backpack is the Modoker Vintage Laptop Backpack.
It’s super pretty, gender-neutral (so guys can totally dig this), provides enough space for your notebooks, a textbook, pens, and highlighters, comes with a laptop compartment, features a USB port to charge your phone, and based on reviews, seems to provide great back support.
Furthermore, This bag received 4.6 out of 5 stars from over 13,000 people on Amazon and appears to be the most popular bag trending on Amazon for college students.
This is what one college student buyer said about the bag:
“Work well for a college student: ‘This backpack is very cute and held up with no problem to a year of use so far, and I put it through a fair amount of strain.'”
The only issue I found with this bag is that the magnet that seals that bag shut has popped off on a few of the customers.
Nevertheless, they all said that customer service is the best, responded within hours, and quickly sent them replacements.
So all in all, this backpack is definitely worth considering.
The second backpack I found (and the one I’m totally geeking out over) is this bag: Matein Travel Laptop Backpack.
Looks: While this bag doesn’t look as pretty as the Modoker Vintage bag, it still pretty chic. I also like that if it gets dirty, you’ll barely see the dirt because of the black color.
It’s also super functional (has pockets for literally everything) and has a TON OF SPACE!
That means if you are an art student or a liberal arts student studying political science or the like, you’ll get on just fine with the Modoker bag.
But if you’re a pre-med, pre-nursing student, or the like, this is YOUR bag.
This bag can hold multiple textbooks, your laptop, pens, highlighters, and everything else you decide to throw into it.
This bag also has a compartment for your laptop and a USB port to charge your phone.
I was concerned about this bag being a “back burden,” but was surprised to find that users find it to be very supportive.
This is what this student said about the bag on Amazon:
“If I could give this backpack a 10 stars I would. It completely exceeded my expectations in quality, design, color, and price. The amount of pockets and space that this backpack gives me is amazing!! I needed a new backpack that would hold my laptop, textbooks, binders, etc for nursing school and this was beyond perfect! Especially since I’m only 5’2 and most backpacks ride low and make my shoulders slouch forward when it’s heavy but this backpack sits perfectly on my spine and I don’t slouch.”
She is just one out of 34,000 users that gave this bag raving reviews and has a near-perfect score of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Woah!
For this reason, I cannot recommend this bag enough!! Check it out.
Alright, so now you know the 10 best school supplies for college! Was this helpful?? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to check out my post, College Bucket List: 50+ Things for The Best College Experience. You cannot forget to do No. 52! I almost did!!