School Supplies for College Students to Start the Year Off Right

Wondering what school supplies you need for college? We have the unofficial list and some great the product recs.

Updated August 9, 2023
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college students going to class

As you prepare for a new year at college, don't forget about the basic school supplies you'll need to ensure your success. We know much of your budget for college back to school is spent on textbooks (and we definitely don't miss that part of the good old college days) but, you'll need some other school and dorm supplies as well. We've rounded up everything you'll need for college and a successful year of study.

College School Supply Shopping List

Much of your college class experience will involve taking notes, working on a computer, and studying your textbooks. Gone are the days of a crisp new pack of crayons for back to school. But there are a few important school supplies you'll need for college courses. For these products, consider turning to long-lasting and trusted brands to see you through the semester. Here's an easy list of what you might need, along with some of our favorites from Amazon. 

Notebooks, Paper & Binders

college student with notebook

Some students like to devote a notebook to each class, while others prefer to keep everything together in one binder or five-subject notebook. Notebooks are great for keeping papers together without any stray sheets, but you may also want to keep your syllabus and other important papers in folders or an accordion folder if you're not using a binder. If you will need to turn in hand-written assignments, make sure the pages tear out of your notebook cleanly or have some loose-leaf paper available for these occasions. Don't forget to also pick up some printer paper.

Pens and Pencils

Pens are usually best for taking notes in class -- we love a smooth marker pen -- while high quality pencils are useful for any subjects involving calculations. In most cases, though, it's a matter of personal preference. If you use pencils on a regular basis, don't forget to bring along a pencil sharpener or lead refills.


Throughout high school, you were most likely forbidden from writing in your textbooks. However, in college, marking up books is a way of life. While some students underline important passages and make notes in pen, highlighters are a great way to accentuate important points and new vocabulary. Grab a multicolor pack of Sharpie highlighters so you can keep your studying organized.

Tape, Stapler, and Paper Clips

Don't forget your fasteners. When it's time to turn in your term paper, you don't want to be hunting for a stapler. Keep a pack of Scotch tape, an assortment of paper clips, and a stapler on hand in your backpack.


A notebook computer is not only handy (you're probably going to live on yours when you're not in class), but personal computers are a requirement at some colleges. If your school requires students to have a computer and you need to get one or get a new one, factor that in that as part of your college costs. Consider the features of different models so you can get what you actually need.

Computer supplies don't stop with just the basic laptop like a Chromebook though. You may also need a printer for printing assignments. Consider purchasing a storage device like a flash drive for easy transfer and back-up of files too. Finally, make sure you have all the required cords, cables, and power strips before heading off to school.

Quick Tip

Don't forget a great bag, like a laptop backpack, to carry your computer in when you need to. (We love the durable Under Armour Hustle -- and it comes in over a dozen colors.)  A laptop desk can also come in handy too. 

Other Supplies That Come in Handy for College Students

Here are a few extras that might also be helpful to have on hand when you get into the grind:

  • A pencil case
  • An academic planner or calendar
  • Index cards or note cards 
  •  Wireless earbuds 
  • A calculator or scientific calculator, depending on your classes 
  • Binder clips
  • Scissors
  • Dry erase or cork board
  • Sticky notes
  • Washi tape
  • Wite-Out 

College School Supplies for Life Around Campus

college students on campus

Whether you plan to live in the dorms or commute to your classes, you'll still be spending a lot of time walking around campus. These are the supplies that might make campus life a bit easier as you jet off to classes.


It is possible to carry your books to class, but it's certainly not very convenient. It's also a good way to ruin your notes on a rainy day. Some students prefer a standard backpack, while others like the style a messenger bag offers. If you purchase a high-quality bag, it should last you throughout your college career.

ID Holder

You'll probably need your school ID to access a large portion of your campus buildings. You might need it to enter your dromitory, the food hall, academic buildings, the library, and school parking garages. Keep it handy with an ID holder that attaches to your phone -- you know you'll never leave home without that.

Water Bottle

There's a lot of walking between classes and sometimes there isn't a lot of time for stopping if you need a drink. Stay hydrated on busy days with a sturdy refillable water bottle. Look for one slim enough to fit into your backpack.


Unfortunately, classes happen ran our shine. You'll want to keep an umbrella in your bag for those surprise showers so you aren't soaked by the time you arrive at class.

Portable Phone Charger

You might not head back to your dorm until the end of the day and you'll probably be using your phone a lot between classes. Keep a portable phone charger handy so your battery doesn't die before the day is over.

Travel-Size Toiletries

Speaking of staying on campus all day, you might want to keep a mini travel kit of toiletries in your bag too. You may want to freshen up between classes, after a late night study session, or when you're crashing at a friend's place. Grab a men's travel toiletries pack, a toiletry travel set for women, or just make one yourself with mini versions of your favorite products.

College Dorm Essentials

college student in dorm

You'll probably come up with a long list of ways to make your college dorm your own with time, but it's good to have the basics figured out. These are the essentials for making your dorm room comfy, functional, and full of all the practical things you might need during your stay.

Comfy & Stylish Dorm Bedding

The bed in your dorm - or even the bed at home - will be your favorite place to go after a long day of classes. Make sure it's comfortable and welcoming for those glorious mornings of sleeping in with a stylish dorm bedding set.

Coffee Maker

Ah coffee, the thing got so many of us through college. It will be your best friend as well. A small coffee maker is a dorm room must.

Cleaning Supplies

Whether or not your dorm has regular cleanliness checks, this is something you're going to want to stay on top of. Just a set of basic dorm cleaning supplies is all you need to keep your space tidy and germ free.

Desk Lamp

No one really wants to stay up late and study, but you'll probably have to do it a few times in your college career. A desk lamp helps you stay focused without disturbing your roommates by flooding the room with too much light.

Storage Bins

Whether your dorm is tight on space or sports a little extra square footage, some clever storage pieces will help you keep your items tidy. Use bin organizers to store snacks, shoes, cords, or anything else that needs a place. These also make packing and unpacking between semesters a lot easier.

Be Prepared With the College School Supplies You Need

It would be hard to miss the abundance of school supplies in stores as everyone gets ready for the big "back-to-school" rush. In late July and early August, retailers pull out their best deals on everything from glue sticks to laptops. If you're a bargain shopper, this is the time to stock up.

If you do find yourself on campus without some studying necessity, school bookstores also usually stock the typical array of items like pens and Post-it notes. You may pay a premium for a folder stamped with your school mascot, but the campus bookstore will probably be your best choice for special supplies required for specific classes like art materials or lab goggles. 

From basics like pens and pencils to items you'll need to work on assignments in your dorm room, there are plenty of essentials college students need to get their work done. Stock up on the items you'll need most and get ready to ace the semester. 

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School Supplies for College Students to Start the Year Off Right