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Shopping for Success! What Supplies Do You Need for College?

written by: Keren Perles•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/6/2011

Incoming freshmen may be confused when they’re buying the school supplies needed for college -- where do you start? Make sure you don't waste your money on things you won't need and invest your money in supplies that will serve you well through your college years without breaking the bank.

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    The Must Have Computer

    In today’s world, one of the main supplies you'll need for college is a computer. Some colleges will require you to purchase a specific laptop, whereas others will leave the choice up to you. Although desktops are cheaper (and harder to steal), laptops will give you the freedom to work all over campus, rather than just in your dorm. Keep in mind that you’ll want to buy a model that is relatively up-to-date so that you can use any software that the school might provide you with. Also don’t forget to purchase a thumb drive – a necessity for your keyring if you ever use someone else’s computer and want to be able to transfer your work.

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    The Basics - Notebooks and Paper

    The two best ways to organize your notes and other papers from classes are with a binder or with spiral notebooks. If you choose to use a binder, make sure that you have a portable hole puncher handy so that you can punch any handouts and organize them quickly. If you’d rather use a spiral notebook for each class (a good idea if you take a lot of notes), buy one with a couple of pockets in it so that you can store blank looseleaf paper and completed classwork assignments, exams, and other papers. If you’d like, you can combine these two techniques by purchasing a large looseleaf and keeping your spiral notebooks inside of it. Keep in mind, however, that you you’d have to lug around the entire looseleaf to all of your courses. Note: Don’t forget to buy a pack of college-ruled paper, along with a pack of computer paper as well.

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    Get Organized With a Planner

    This is probably one of the most helpful school supplies needed for college – but one that very few students take full advantage of. You can use it to write down any upcoming events or assignments. Life gets busy in college, and a planner can help you manage your time and your workload so that you gain the most from your experiences.

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    Backpack

    College textbooks are often heavier than high school textbooks, and you’ll be lugging them across campus pretty often. That’s why you should consider investing in a high-quality backpack or messenger bag. Make sure that it distributes the weight evenly and that the fabric is thick and will not tear easily.

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    Other School Supplies

    You’ll also want to purchase some of these basics for your time at college:

    • Pens (black/blue and red)
    • Pencils, along with erasers and either a pencil sharpener or extra lead
    • Mini stapler and extra staples
    • Hole puncher (if you are using a binder)
    • Book covers (so that your textbooks will have a good resale value)
    • Index cards – for studying and writing papers
    • Highlighters – for marking up textbooks and notes
    • Calculator – graphing calculator, if you’ll be taking upper-level math courses
    • Reference books specific to your major/interests, in addition to a dictionary and a thesaurus