Get Ready for College: The Ultimate School Supplies Checklist for 2023

Must-Have School Supplies for College Students: Your Essential Guide for 2023

11 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Reliable backpack with sturdy straps and multiple compartments is essential for college students.
  • A good-quality laptop is necessary for efficient coursework.
  • Must-have writing utensils like pens, pencils, and highlighters are important for note-taking and assignment tracking.
  • Efficient organization tools like planners, folders, and binders help in managing assignments and staying organized.

Heading off to college is an exciting new adventure! But getting ready with all the supplies you’ll need can feel overwhelming for incoming freshmen. Never fear – this comprehensive college supply list has everything required for academic and dorm life success!

Use it as your go-to guide when shopping so nothing gets left behind. We’ll cover must-have basics for classes, technology gear, dorm living essentials, and more.

To make things easier, we’ve created a handy printable PDF checklist for you, available at the end of this post.

With these college student supplies, you’ll stay organized and prepared on campus!

Backpacks – Carry Your Essentials in Style

The first essential supply for every college student is a good backpack. This will be your daily companion for carrying books, laptops, and other gear around campus all day long.

When picking the best school backpack for college life, make sure to choose a spacious bag with enough room to hold all your essentials without being bulky. Look for padding on the straps and back panel so heavier loads are comfortable to carry.

Water-resistant fabric is ideal in case you get caught in the rain biking or walking around campus. And plenty of pockets and compartments keep your stuff neatly organized while you’re on the move.

A stylish print or color is a fun way to show off your personality! Just don’t sacrifice function for fashion – durability, and comfort should be your top concerns.

Pro Tip: Save your back by always using both straps when carrying your bag instead of slinging it over one shoulder.

Pens, Pencils, and Writing Supplies

Stocking up on writing essentials is a college school supplies must! You’ll rely on these for taking notes in class, completing assignments by hand, and studying:

Pens – Have plenty of black or blue ink pens for exams and assignments where professors mandate certain colors. Fun multi-colored pens make note-taking during long lectures more engaging!

Pencils – Number two pencils are still needed for filling out scantron test forms. Mechanical pencils with extra lead refills are great for everyday writing.

Highlighters – Marking up key textbook passages and class notes with highlighters improves memorization and comprehension.

Erasers – Mistakes happen – rubber erasers easily remove pesky pencil marks.

Pencil Case – Store your pens, pencils, and markers together in one portable case so they’re always handy in your backpack.

Notebooks and Binders Keep You Organized

Staying organized is critical for college success. Notebooks, binders, folders, and divider tabs will help you organize all your notes in class, handouts, and documents orderly.

Notebooks – Use spiral notebooks for individual classes. It helps with the organization.

Binders – Sturdy binders neatly hold class notes, graded assignments, syllabi, and other materials for major courses.

Dividers – Use dividers or tabs to separate each unit or topic within binders. Keeping materials organized this way makes studying much easier.

Folders – Designate a folder for each class to file away returned papers, worksheets, and documents.

Loose-Leaf Paper – Stock up on packs of college-ruled or wide-ruled paper for notes and assignments.

Sticky Notes – Jot down reminders or flag important pages with these handy sticky notes.

Stapler – Keep multi-page assignments neatly stapled together. Mini staplers take up little room.

Pro Tip: Color code your notebooks, dividers, and folders per academic subject for faster organization.

Planners and Calendars Manage Your Time

From club meetings and study groups to big assignments and exams, college life gets hectic fast. Stay sane by planning out your days and weeks in advance.

Daily Planners – Record to-do lists, track upcoming due dates, and schedule study time in a planner. Cross daily tasks off as you go!

Wall Calendars – Display a large calendar visible in your dorm to plot important academic dates and campus events at a glance.

Online Calendars – Build the habit of putting due dates, study sessions, and other commitments into your Google or iPhone calendar too. Set reminders so nothing takes you by surprise!

Pro Tip: Synchronize your planner and online calendar so all your obligations are in one place.

Dorm Room Must-Haves Make It Feel Like Home

Moving into your college dorm means starting totally fresh in a new living space. Make it feel homey and personalized with these basic items:

Bedding – Invest in super soft sheets, comfy mattress pads, warm blankets, and pillows you love to sleep well in your campus bed.

Photos & Posters – Hang up photos of family, friends, and favorite celebrities. Posters featuring your hobbies or inspirational quotes add personality.

Decorations – String lights, lamp shades, area rugs, and accent pillows make dorm rooms cozier.

Cleaning Tools – Keep your shared dorm bathroom and bedroom tidy with supplies like disinfectant wipes, dusters, and a small trash can.

Laundry Bag – A dedicated laundry bag lets you easily tote clothes to campus washing machines.

Hangers & Storage – Unpack clothes into your dresser and closet neatly using velvet hangers. Underbed boxes or over-the-door organizers add storage.

Fan or White Noise Machine – Block noisy dorm neighbors with ambient background noise for better sleep.

Pro Tip: Check your college’s housing website for a list of permitted items before going all out on decorations. Some dorms prohibit candles, for example.

Dorm Room Bathroom & Shower Essentials

Sharing a college dorm bathroom means you’ll need your own shower caddy packed with bathroom basics:

  • Shower shoes
  • Travel toiletries like shampoo, soap, a toothbrush, and razors
  • Hair towels and washcloths
  • Robe and sandals for walking to the showers
  • A shower caddy to tote it all!

Pro Tip: Look for space-saving travel bottles or TSA-approved sizes of toiletries that make packing easier

Electronics And Tech Supplies

Today’s college students rely on technology. Some essential tech school supplies are:

Laptop – A dependable laptop is mandatory for completing assignments, emailing professors, studying for online classes, and more. Look for one with enough speed, memory, and storage for your courses.

Tablet (optional) – Tablets offer a convenient way to read course materials, e-books, and academic apps on the go.

Printer – Dorm room printers let you print course documents, assignments, and notes whenever needed. Pack a ream of printer paper for your dorm room printer. Be sure to also stock up on extra ink cartridges. Check your campus computer labs as a backup for printing needs too.

Headphones – Invest in noise-canceling or wireless headphones to enjoy music and podcasts in the dorm without disturbing roommates.

Portable Chargers – These compact devices juice up your smartphone or tablet on the go when outlets are scarce. Don’t get stuck with a dead phone before class!

USB Flash Drives – Store coursework files and notes on a flash drive to transfer between your laptop and campus computer lab desktops.

Pro Tip: Take advantage of student discounts! Retailers like Apple and Best Buy often offer special college savings.

Specialized Supplies For Math & Science Majors

If pursuing STEM majors, specialized supplies come in handy:

  • Scientific or graphing calculator
  • Protractor and ruler
  • Compasses for drawing circles
  • Colored pencils for diagrams and models

Lab gear like goggles, gloves, dissection kits, and lab notepads may be required too once you take lab courses. Your professors will provide specifics on the mandatory math and science equipment needed.

Pro Tip: Buy used graphing calculators online to save money. Models like the TI-84 Plus have been classroom staples for years and change little between editions.

Must-Have Dorm Cooking Supplies

Most college dorms allow basic cooking appliances so you can whip up snacks and meals on a budget. Handy cooking tools include:

  • Mini fridge
  • Microwave
  • Electric kettle for making coffee, tea, oatmeal
  • Snack storage containers

Since dorms are shared spaces, also make sure to pack:

  • Utensil organizer
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Travel mug for taking coffee and tea to class
  • Dish soap and sponge

Pro Tip: Check with your roommate on who will bring major appliances like a fridge or microwave before doubling up. Coordinate to save precious space.

Campus Life Essentials

Don’t forget small creature comforts that make student life more pleasant! Recommended campus life supplies include:

  • Backpack Umbrella – Stay dry darting between classes on a rainy day. Mini clip-on umbrellas fit in your bag.
  • Water bottle – Refillable water bottles mean you can sip water in lectures and stay hydrated all day.
  • Travel mug – For enjoying coffee on the walk to your early morning classes.
  • Portable phone charger – Juice up your phone between classes without hunting for outlets.
  • Campus maps – Don’t get lost your first-week navigating new campus buildings and lecture halls.
  • Mini first aid kit – Throw in bandaids, meds, and other healthcare basics so they’re on hand.

Pro Tip: Scan your class schedule into your phone. Add map pins for routes between classes so navigating is easy peasy.

Extra Dorm Room Accessories

Looking to decorate and organize your space? Add these dorm room accessories to your school supplies list:

  • Holiday string lights
  • Command hooks to hang decor without wall damage
  • Over-the-door storage racks for extra closet space
  • Under-bed storage bins
  • A shoe rack to organize crowded closets
  • Desk organizer trays for pens, notes, etc.
  • A floor lamp or desk lamp for late-night studying

Pro Tip: Check for dimensions of desks and beds in your assigned dorm room if provided. That way storage bins and furniture fit perfectly.

Essential Back to School Supplies for College Students in 2023

Click here to download the PDF

Academic Essentials

You’ll make life much easier if you come prepared with basic academic tools like:

  • Backpack – A comfy, sturdy backpack to lug heavy books
  • Pencils – Both standard and mechanical pencils for scantrons and everyday use
  • Pens – Have blue or black pens for assignments, plus colorful options for notes
  • Highlighters – Mark up notes and textbooks with bright highlighters
  • Erasers – Mistakes happen! Keep a quality large eraser handy
  • Pencil case – Store writing essentials together in one portable pouch
  • Notebooks – Spiral and subject notebooks for each college course
  • Binder – Sturdy binders hold class materials neatly in one place
  • Folders – Designate a folder for each subject to file papers and handouts
  • Planner – Stay organized with a daily planner or academic calendar
  • Laptop + charger – Essential for most coursework and access to WiFi
  • Backpack umbrella – A small fold-up umbrella stashed in your bag for rainy campus days
  • Water bottle – Refillable bottle keeps you hydrated running between classes

Questions to Ask Before College Shopping

Before hitting store shelves, ask yourself:

  • What are my must-have college school supplies for classes based on my major?
  • Which supplies will I need for college year-round vs one semester?
  • What electronics are absolutely necessary vs nice to have?
  • What essentials am I forgetting for dorm living?
  • How can I show my personality through fun dorm decor?
  • What organizers will help me organize in a small space?

Also, check:

  • Your assigned dorm room measurements if available
  • Retailers’ return policies in case anything doesn’t work

Making strategic choices ensures you get the right supplies without overspending!

Shop Smart For College Success

With this ultimate college packing list, you can shop confidently for the school year ahead. Load up on the academic, dorm, and campus life essentials that will serve you throughout college.

Starting your freshman year well-prepared with all the right supplies removes one more source of stress during a hectic transition. Refer back to this list anytime you need a gear upgrade or replace worn items.

With the right gear, you’ll be ready to succeed in college classes and dorm life!

Frequently Asked Questions About College Supplies

How should I budget for college supplies?

Make a master list of everything you’ll need for dorm living, classes, and campus activities. Set a spending limit per category like technology, dorm furniture, textbooks, etc. Watch for sales, student discounts, and buying used to reduce costs.

Should I wait until after classes start to buy textbooks?

It can be smart to hold off on textbooks. Many professors don’t end up using books listed before the semester. Attend the first week of classes, review syllabi, and speak with your professor to confirm exactly which textbooks to purchase. Rentals and library e-copies are great cost-saving options too.

Can I share mini-fridges, microwaves, or printers with my roommate?

Absolutely! Coordinate with your assigned roommate before the move-in weekend to decide who will supply major appliances and electronics. Splitting these expensive purchases can save you both money. Just be sure to also agree on sharing ground rules.

How do I transport college supplies to campus?

Stuff everything into boxes, storage bins, laundry baskets, and suitcases that are easy to pack into a car. Ask your parents for help moving gear into the dorms. Shipping boxes ahead via UPS is another option. Just watch package weight limits if going that route. And don’t forget essential bedding and basic supplies in a “day one” box you carry on move-in day!

Should I buy supplies before I get to campus?

Buying certain basic school and dorm supplies before college move-in day can make life easier. Shop early for big items like furniture and electronics that require pre-planning and transporting to campus. Feel free to wait on specific course textbooks, notebooks, and smaller items you can pick up at a campus bookstore after classes begin.

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