Must-Have School Supplies for College Students

There’s just something about shopping for college school supplies that gets me all excited.

I remember opening my planner for the first time and writing important dates on the fresh pieces of paper.

It honestly felt a little like having a birthday because all of these new items were bought with a specific purpose and with a certain person in mind… Me.

After enduring six years of college and graduate school, I became a pro at figuring out which school supplies for college were must-haves, and which ones I could live without.

Below, you’ll find all of the items that I personally included in my own shopping list. Feel free to use it as a guide when you purchase your next round of supplies!

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will receive a small commission if you purchase something through one of the links. This comes at no cost to you and helps me to continue making Chase the Write Dream even better!*

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for Join Amazon Prime for College Students so that you can get free two-day shipping. It’s completely free for college students! Also, Ebates is a great site for getting cash back – sign up for free here.

Laptop or Tablet

This is an absolutely must if you want to avoid multiple trips to the library every day. I personally like my MacBook Air because it’s light and compact, yet runs efficiently and does everything I need.

I also have a Kindle Fire which is excellent for holding all of your textbooks. Did I mention that several textbooks are available as digital rentals or for a cheaper price overall? My Kindle literally paid for itself after one class and I still use it to this day in my adult life!

Computer Mouse

If you’re like me, using your laptop’s trackpad is going to get REALLY old after a few days. Thankfully, there are tons of great mouses out there that are budget-friendly and work like a dream. I personally have this cute one that looks like a fox and have had zero issues getting it to sync with my MacBook Air (plus, it was just over $15 which was nothing compared to some of the $30+ ones I was seeing for sale).


Every college student needs a planner on their school supplies list.


Because there’s A LOT to keep track of in college.

Not only will you have different classes that meet on different days, but you’ll also have test dates, project deadlines, activities, and plenty of other things to keep track of. Without a solid system in place, you might miss one of these important dates (yikes)!

Now, there are tons of different planners out there, so it’s important to find one that’s going to work for you. Personally, I like having one that includes a daily schedule with time slots so that I can keep track of everything down to the half hour or hour. You might not want something as detailed as that, which is totally fine!

Here are the planners I would personally recommend:

  • Panda Planner (pictured below)- This planner is different than many others because there are no pre-filled dates. Additionally, the sections are divided by months, weeks, and days. I recently purchased this planner to manage my time better and I have to set that it’s SO motivating! I have places to write down my goals, important dates, schedule, and projects.
My Must-Have School Supplies for College | Get the right materials and tools to help you be a more successful college student. These will help you get more organized so your grades improve! Click through to check the list out!

Must have school supplies for college – Planners

  • Action Day Academic Weekly Planner – This planner was super helpful in graduate school because it had weekly schedules with hourly tracking slots, a tasks section, and so much more. I used the tasks section to write down assignments that needed to be completed that week, as well as any action steps that needed to be taken after they were submitted. I would highly recommend putting this down on your list of school supplies for college if you want a simple, but detailed, planner.
  • Bloom Daily Planner – If you don’t need an hourly schedule but would still like a daily planner, then this one might be for you. Personally, I use my Bloom planner to keep track of appointments, notes, and things I need to do throughout the year. It’s more generic than the others, but it would be awesome for writing down to-do lists each day and keeping track of your progress!

College-Ruled Notebooks

I know that writing in a notebook might seem like a thing of the past, but the truth is that you’ll actually learn better if you physically write your notes on paper. Even if you type your notes during class, it’s super helpful to rewrite your notes by hand (or at least some of the main points) when you go back to study them.

[RELATED] Best Study Tips for College Students and Note Taking Tips for College Students

It also helpful to have a notebook on-hand so that you can jot down important concepts, as well as any questions that you want to get answers to.

These Five Star notebooks are extremely durable and a must-have school supply for college students!
Student Notes Sorting Custom Die Cut Stickers

There are many cases where students take different class notes into the same notebook, or there are too many notes in a course. When they need to review and find knowledge points, it is really annoying to search page by page. Notes sorting custom die cut stickers from are the perfect solution to this problem. You can customize the names of different knowledge points, choose different colors, and paste them on the corresponding page, which will be very convenient to find and you can also use them as envelope seals.

Sticky Notes

I would have been lost without sticky notes in college. They were literally plastered everyone from my laptop to my wall.

You could stick with a more generic type, like the traditional Post-it Notes, or you could branch out and get these task-specific sticky notes.

I’ve seen students use these to make to-do lists, write down reminders, remember important dates, and more. I personally kept a stack of them on my nightstand (still do actually) to write down things I remember randomly while I’m laying in bed.

Ballpoint Pens

For some unknown reason, I became a pencil hater when I entered college. After my freshman year, pencils only made the cut on my list of school supplies for college because I needed them for some outlines I was doing.

I think part of the problem was that I didn’t have time to continually sharpen them or refill them with lead. Pens were a lot easier to carry around in bulk and wrote more crisp.

I realized that I didn’t need anything fancy – some simple ballpoint pens worked just fine and didn’t smear like some of the others. They were literally the perfect option for a college student like me who had back-to-back classes several days a week!

There are even sets of colored ones if you prefer to have something other than black or blue!

Microsoft Office

With more and more professors asking students to submit their assignments via dropboxes, it’s important to have software that is easily transferable from computer to computer.

Every professor that I had required that we used Microsoft Office to submit papers and spreadsheets. Thankfully, students can get a discounted version of this software by simply visiting this website.

Even if you’re a Mac user, I highly recommend making sure that Microsoft Office for Mac makes it on your list of school supplies for college so that you don’t have to scramble to purchase it later on when your professor requires a document from Word or Excel.

USB Flash Drive

This was one of the things I originally missed when I did my school shopping because I figured I would be able to do everything that I needed from my own computer.

Truth was that I had one class that required TONS of printing and another that required a specific software and only certain computers on campus had it, so I ended up in the library a lot more than I had anticipated.

Without a USB flash drive, I would’ve had to go to the same computer every time or complete my work in one sitting – not exactly an ideal situation.

These drives have gotten super cheap and can be put to great use even after you graduate, so make sure you add it to your list of school supplies!

[RELATED] 20 Freebies for College Students

Other Must-Have School Supplies for College Students

This college school supplies list obviously doesn’t cover every supply you should purchase, but it does cover some of the main ones that will help you get your semester started on the right foot.

Other items you may want to consider purchasing are:

Now that you have some ideas for which school supplies to buy for college, why not check out the list of items that will help make your dorm room feel more like home?

Must-Have School Supplies for College Students | Back to school shopping? Make sure you get these items before you head off to college. Click through to see the list!

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  • Pepper Dasnee
    February 29, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Awesome! My favourite school supplies would have to be coloured pens! I feel so motivated whenever I look at my colourful notes! LOL

    • Tori
      February 29, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      Colored pens are so fun! They are great for separating notes in your planner as well 🙂

  • Jasmin
    June 19, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Great list! I love buying really colorful pens because I hate writing in just black or blue ink. It makes note-taking and study guide-making a whole lot more fun!


    • Tori
      June 19, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Adding a splash of color is always a great way to make studying more fun. Thanks for sharing, Jasmin!