The top 10 things no college student can live – or study – without

It’s summer, exams are over, and minds are beginning to move on to preparing all the things you need for college classes in the autumn.

Waiting for your exam results are always going to be stressful, and the last thing you need is to be worrying about preparing for college. So, to help you out, here are our top 10 things you need for college classes.

10 things you need for college classes

10 things you need for college classes

1. Adhesive page markers

Marking your textbooks, and your notes from lectures, using these small colored paper markers will really help you to keep track of your studies.

They’re cheap, easy to use and even come in bright cheerful colors. Use different colors to mark different topics or subjects.

Make sure you take them to lectures so that you can mark topics where more work is needed.

2. Messenger bag or rucksack

You will need something in which to carry your notes, textbooks, pens and pencils, and other equipment around campus.

Make sure it’s big enough to carry everything you need for your day, but not so large that you cram all kinds of things in. You don’t want your bag to get so heavy that it hurts your back, or just becomes a drag to carry around.

If you use a laptop or tablet for your notetaking, make sure whatever bag you choose is well padded and secure to avoid damage.

3. Files, folders, and notebooks – or a digital device

One of the most vital things you need for college classes is a way to take notes and organize the notes you take. Every person has their own preference, whether it’s handwritten notes on paper, dictations into a handheld recorder, or digital notes on a laptop or tablet.

If you prefer paper over digital, make sure you have a separate notebook or folder for each of your courses. If you’re a digital person, decide what notetaking tool you want to use, and set it up prior to the start of your course.

4. Calculator

Even if maths isn’t your main subject, chances are you’ll still need to undertake some numbers-based studies as part of your course.

So one of the things you need for college is a calculator. For more advanced math or science courses, you may need a specialist graphical calculator; otherwise, something cheap and cheerful should do the trick.

5. Computer and printer

If you’re going to use it for note-taking, then one of the things you need for college is a portable computing device (i.e. a laptop).

Whatever device you purchase (or perhaps your parents buy for you!) make sure you also get hold of a decent printer. With cloud storage, email, and instant messaging, we all use far fewer paper documents that we used to. But, you’ll still need to be able to print official documents, and possibly submit papers in hard copy.

6. Paper

No point getting a printer, but no printer paper. As always, though, it’s not that simple. Make sure that you check what size and style of the paper your college requires (A4, foolscap?) and get the right kind. If you’re environmentally conscious, you can lay your hands on some recycled paper, but you’ll find it will cost you more.

Don’t forget to get some notebooks (which will fit comfortably in your bag) as well as printer paper. Even if you’ll be taking notes digitally, there’s always a place for old-fashioned pen and paper!

7. Planner or diary, or a calendar app

Doing well at college is about far more than simple academic ability. A huge part of ensuring your success is being able to manage your time, and plan, effectively.

Some people prefer a paper-based diary or planner, at least partly because some institutions will provide all their students with one for free.

Other students prefer to plan and organize their life digitally using calendar apps, and to-do list apps. Either option works, but it’s best to look at and choose your system before you start your course.

8. Pens and pencils

If there’s one thing that everyone remembers about college (after the drinking, and the parties) it’s the sheer amount of work.

And that means writing. Lots, and lots, of writing. Take your time to make sure you get your hands on some writing equipment that suits you. And, if you opt for pencils rather than pens, don’t forget a pencil sharpener and an eraser.

9. Specialisms and their equipment

Most, if not all, college courses will have specific requirements of their students. That could be to have access to specific textbooks, software, or other equipment that you’ll need for your studies.

Science students, for example, will often be required to supply their own lab coat, safety glasses, gloves, and even a dissection kit.

If textbooks are one of the things you need for college, often it can be best to wait until you arrive at your institution.

Almost all campuses will have a bookshop, and they’ll have all the books you need and probably also be able to offer you the biggest discount.

Alternatively, try getting in touch with students who’ve studied your courses in previous years to see if you can pick up the books you need second hand.

For more specialist equipment (e.g. lab coats) it’s likely that your college will have a link to a supplier so that you can buy what you need when you arrive. It’s worth noting that not all equipment is cheap, so set aside some cash in those first few weeks to buy what you need.

10. Do you scan?


College lecturers can seem like the oldest people in the world, and the most stuck in their ways. More than likely you’ll receive a large number of your lecture notes on paper, despite everyone having a college email account.

Finding a way to keep track of all of those notes and organize them in a way that’s easy to search can be a real nightmare.

Using a scanner is one way to manage all of the paperwork. Tools such as ScanMarker can scan all the notes you’re given, and import them in a searchable format into whatever note-taking tool you use.

It’s a wrap for the things you need for college classes.


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