25 College Supplies You Absolutely Need

Heading off to college? Whether you’re a freshman or a returning student, having the right college supplies and essentials can make all the difference in managing your academic and personal life.

From staying organized to acing your studies, these 25 college essentials are must-haves for every student’s backpack and dorm room.

Here are game-changing supplies that will help keep you prepared and stay organized throughout the semester!

1. Planner

A planner is a must in college to manage your hectic schedule effectively. It’s not just about keeping track of assignments and exams; it’s also about managing your personal life, group projects, and extracurricular activities.

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2. Pencil Case

A durable pencil case is important for organizing all your writing utensils and other small accessories like USB drives, erasers, and sharpeners. Look for cases with multiple compartments to keep everything neatly separated and easily accessible.

3. Notebook

Different subjects may require different types of notebooks. Whether you prefer spiral-bound notebooks for their ability to lay flat or composition books for their durability, having a variety of notebooks will help keep your notes organized. Consider using one notebook per subject to avoid confusion.

4. Sticky Notes

Sticky notes are incredibly versatile tools in college. They can be used for jotting down reminders, marking important textbook passages without leaving permanent marks, or even temporarily labeling binders and folders. The variety of colors and sizes available makes it easy to create a color-coding system for your studies.

5. Sticky Tabs

Sticky tabs are essential for students who need to quickly refer back to specific sections in textbooks or notebooks. They’re also great for organizing notes by topic or chapter, making review sessions more efficient. Choose different colors to assign to different subjects or topics.

6. Pens

Invest in high-quality pens that provide a comfortable writing experience. You might want various types, including ballpoint, gel, and felt-tip, depending on your writing preferences and the task at hand. Color-coding notes can also help in retaining information, so consider multiple colors.

7. Pencils

Pencils are perfect for subjects that require frequent corrections, like mathematics or physics. Mechanical pencils are popular for their convenience and precision, but traditional woodcase pencils can be preferable for exams or sketching.

8. Paper Clips

Large and small paper clips can be lifesavers when it comes to organizing handouts, returning assignments neatly, or keeping your research papers in order. They are a simple yet effective tool for keeping all your paperwork secure and organized.

9. Eraser

A good quality eraser is crucial, especially for pencil users. Look for non-smudge erasers that lift graphite cleanly without tearing your paper. This can keep your notes clean and legible.

10. Highlighters

Highlighters are a great way to mark key information in notes and textbooks. Using different colors can help you organize themes or subjects and make review time much more straightforward. Look for highlighters that don’t bleed through pages to keep your books in good condition.

11. Binders

Binders are excellent for organizing and protecting your coursework. You can use different binders for different subjects or one large binder with dividers. Ensure they are sturdy and have enough space to accommodate all your notes and handouts.

12. Binder Dividers

Binder dividers help you separate different topics or subjects within the same binder, making it easier to find what you need quickly. Tabbed dividers can also provide space for brief annotations or labels, which is handy during study sessions.

13. Laptop

A reliable laptop is essential for college students today. It is your primary tool for writing papers, conducting research, engaging in online courses, and even entertainment. Consider the battery life, weight, and software needs when choosing one that’s right for your workload and lifestyle.

14. Headphones

Headphones can be crucial for studying in busy areas like cafes or libraries. Noise-cancelling headphones can help you focus by blocking out distracting noises. They are also useful for online classes and listening to lectures or educational podcasts.

15. Backpack

A sturdy backpack is necessary to carry your books, laptop, and other supplies. Look for one with multiple compartments for better organization and padded straps for comfort, especially if you have a heavy load to carry.

16. Wall Calendar

A wall calendar is an excellent organizational tool for any college student. Hang it in a visible spot in your room to keep track of important academic deadlines, social events, and personal appointments. Use different colors or stickers to highlight various types of activities, helping you visualize how your month is shaping up at a glance. This can be particularly useful during busy periods like midterms and finals.

17. Whiteboard

A whiteboard allows you to sketch out ideas, write down to-do lists, and plan out projects with ease. It’s an invaluable tool for brainstorming sessions, whether you’re working alone or with classmates. The ability to quickly erase and rearrange thoughts can aid significantly in complex problem-solving tasks or when trying to organize thoughts for an upcoming paper or presentation.

18. Printer

Investing in a printer for your dorm room or apartment can be a game-changer, especially when libraries or computer labs are closed. A printer is not just convenient for printing assignments and notes, but also essential for printing out emergency copies of essays or projects. Make sure to consider print speed, quality, and the cost of replacement cartridges when choosing the right printer for your needs.

19. Ink

Always have spare printer ink on hand to avoid last-minute scrambles before important deadlines. Running out of ink can cause unnecessary stress, so keeping an extra cartridge or two could save you a lot of trouble, especially during periods when you’re printing more frequently, like before finals or term paper submissions.

20. Printing Paper

Keep a good stock of quality printing paper, as it’s not just for assignments. You’ll need it for printing out articles for class, creating physical copies of important emails, or even making flyers for a club event. Opt for higher-quality, thicker paper for final copies of important documents to make a professional impression.

21. Hole Punch

A hole punch is essential for students who prefer to keep physical copies of their notes and documents. It allows you to punch holes uniformly, making it easy to store your papers in binders or folders. A sturdy, adjustable hole punch can handle multiple pages at once and fit different binder sizes, which is very useful for maintaining organized notes throughout the semester.

22. Stapler

A reliable stapler is crucial for submitting multi-page essays or reports. It helps ensure that your work is presented neatly and remains intact. Look for a stapler that can handle a substantial number of pages without jamming and consider keeping a mini stapler in your backpack for those last-minute stapling needs on campus.

23. Expanding File Folders

Expanding file folders are perfect for organizing and transporting a variety of documents without mixing them up. They can be particularly useful for managing different subjects or projects, as each section expands to accommodate a larger number of papers. These folders are also durable and portable, making them ideal for students on the go.

24. Flashcards

Flashcards are an excellent tool for efficient studying and memorization. They work well for languages, historical dates, scientific terms, and more. You can create your own or use apps that provide digital flashcards for added convenience. Regular review using flashcards can significantly improve your recall and understanding of complex information.

25. USB

A USB drive is essential for backing up your work and transferring files between different devices. In college, where work often happens on multiple computers—like your laptop, school labs, and library PCs, having a USB drive ensures that you can always access your work. Consider a USB with a larger storage capacity and a sturdy design to handle the wear and tear of daily use.


As you gear up for another semester, make sure you’re fully equipped with these essential supplies.

Whether it’s a sturdy backpack, a reliable laptop, or a set of handy flashcards, each item on this list is designed to enhance your college experience.

Stay prepared, stay organized, and here’s to a successful and stress-free semester!

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