Like many other college students, I returned to school today. Sometimes it can be a little hard to get back into the swing of things once I’ve had such a relaxing holiday break. I started thinking about what I needed to have for the Spring, and I compiled this list of essential items for college students to have at the start of a new semester.

I realize that every college student has a different living situation (whether it’s in a dorm, apartment, or at home), so I left home related items off my list and focused mainly on items for school.

Here are 12 of my essentials for this semester:

(Note: This post contains affiliate links.)

  1. Planner

    I’m convinced that staying organized is the key to success in college. Many students opt to use their phone calendar instead of a physical one, but I personally love being able to write important dates or assignments down on paper. It helps me to remember deadlines better. I am using a planner by Lilly Pulitzer this year. It’s gorgeous, has tons of colorful artwork on the inside, and is also very practical. There are different sections inside of it for travel plans, addresses, important dates, and notes. Even better, two full pages of adorable stickers come with it! It’s such a fun planner to write in. You can order your own here.

  2. Laptop

    Many universities have labs with computers that you can use. However, it is so much more convenient to have your own. I know laptops are expensive, but they are definitely worth saving up for. I do almost all of my work on my laptop, including taking notes in class, doing research, completing assignments, and checking my email.

    I use a 13.3-inch Apple Macbook Pro. It is an incredible computer that is absolutely perfect for the work I do (school assignments, intern tasks, photo editing, and design). I believe the 13.3-inch is one of the newer versions of the Macbook Pro. I purchased mine in October 2016.

    If you’re on a budget, you should consider purchasing a used laptop. Many used computers still produce amazing results for a fraction of the price of a new one. Amazon sells used Macbook computers, and I’m sure you could find some on eBay or any other resale website. Other students at your school might even be selling their old laptops. When purchasing a used computer, it’s important to make sure you do your research on what you’re buying and also make sure to purchase from a reliable seller.

  3. Flashdrive

    Flashdrives aren’t used as often anymore after the invention of file sharing services such as DropBox and Google Drive. Even so, it’s always a good idea to have one handy in case you don’t have internet access when you need to give a presentation or turn in an assignment. I highly recommend purchasing a flashdrive because an easy $10.99 investment could save you a lot of trouble in the future.

  4. Calculator

    If you’re like me and don’t have to take many math classes for your degree, you might not realize the importance of having a calculator at your desk. For my major, the only math classes I had to take were College Algebra and Elementary Statistics. Even after earning my math credits, I still find it super helpful to have my calculator handy in case I need to calculate finances or do other necessary tasks. I still have my fancy TI-84 from when I took math classes. A simpler calculator would be enough for basic functions. However, college math classes you take will likely require you to have a scientific or graphing calculator. Below, I have included links to both the TI-84 and a standard function desktop calculator

  5. Small wallet

    A small wallet that can fit my phone, debit card, driver’s license, and student ID is a must-have. I like ones that have wrist straps in case I want to go somewhere without having to carry a larger bag. Right now, I carry a Michael Kors wallet similar to the one below.

  6. Backpack or large purse

    Carrying textbooks, notes, your laptop, and other materials to and from class can be a real struggle if you don’t have a sturdy, reliable bag or backpack. A lot of people like using backpacks for school, but I personally prefer large purses that I can fit all of my books into. I use one similar to the Michael Kors purse shown below.

  7. Portable phone charger

    No matter how amazing your phone’s battery life is, it’s still a good idea to keep a portable charger with you at all times. Life has a funny way of surprising us, sometimes with unpleasant circumstances. Let’s say you miss the last shuttle home, or maybe you somehow lost your friends after a long night out. If your phone dies, a portable charger will be your saving grace. I know my phone tends to die at the most inconvenient times, so I’m going to start carrying around a portable charger in case I need to contact someone for help.

  8. Headphones

    I always listen to music, regardless of whether I’m studying, exercising, or writing. Not everyone listens to music as much as I do, but headphones are definitely a necessity for me. I like these Skullcandy ones.

  9. Highlighters

    I typically use my laptop to take notes, but I do read paper textbooks instead of online ones. When I’m studying, it’s super helpful for me to highlight important phrases or sentences directly in my textbooks. That’s where these Sharpie highlighters come in handy. These are great because they come in a variety of colors and they’re skinny, unlike the traditional fat highlighters.

  10. Mini stapler

    One thing I’ve noticed about college is the lack of staplers everywhere. Most classrooms don’t have them, and professors shouldn’t be expected to carry staplers around with them for their students to use. A mini stapler is definitely a useful thing to have in case you (or your friend) need to staple a multiple-page assignment before handing it in. This pink one is cute, light, and portable, making it easy to carry with you from class to class.

  11. Index cards

    If you’re a flashcard learner like me, these rainbow index cards are perfect for studying! Unlike the boring white ones, these are colored so you can separate your flashcards by class or subject. I recommend keeping some with you when you go to class in case you need to write an important term down during one of your lectures.

  12. Hand sanitizer

    I hate to say it, but college is full of GERMS (ew).  I always carry a pocket-sized hand sanitizer with me to use throughout the day. The flu is common among college students, and I know I want to avoid being sick so I can do my best on my schoolwork and feel 100% when it’s time to have fun. This particular hand sanitizer is cute because it has glitter in it! You’ll stay healthy and sparkly.


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What are some of your essentials for the beginning of a new semester?


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