College requires a lot of different supplies, tech, and study tools. Here are the basics so you don’t forget them in the excitement of going off to college or grad school–along with a few reasons why I have chosen each of them during my college and graduate studies. Also, if you’re looking for new supplies to make studying easier or have never though of them this post might help you out.
Pens and Pencils—Choosing between taking notes and writing essay drafts with a pen or pencil is probably a decision you’ve already made. My personal suggestion is to use pencils. In-class note taking can be a hectic thing, and in my experience with pens I sometimes ended up with more scratched out words and sentences than I did actual notes. The same goes doubly for writing drafts of essays. If it weren’t for my losing them somewhere between moving out my dorm, into an apartment, studying abroad, and moving again for grad school I would still be using these mechanical pencils.
Notebook(s)— If you aren’t using a computer to take notes, this is an obvious one. I’m a fan of using one notebook with a few subject sections. These kinds of 5 Star notebooks have dividers with tabs to easily find a particular class’ notes along with pockets to carry syllabi and extra sheets (which professor undoubtedly will pass out). This five subject notebook is best—with its covered spine it will survive the chaos of your book bag.
Post-it Notes—These little gems are perfect for parenthetical notes, ideas, reminders, and they even do a good job as bookmarks. If you’ve never used them for studying before, now might be the time to try. They are cheap and easy to use.
Book Bag / Back Pack— If you’re college is like mine, you’ll end up walking all over campus to get from one class to another. There were times during my undergrad when I had three class in a row with no time to drop off and pick up other books and notebooks. The most comfortable bag I had for carrying multiple books, notebooks, and a laptop was this SwissGear bag. It’s a little bulkier than a straightforward Jansport bag, but it is one of the few out there that can handle the weight of a college education. I’ve used both kinds, so really it depends on your class schedule and where you plan to take your work. Where the SwissGear bag is the backwoods bag, the Jansport is the commercial campground. Ask yourself, do you need every study tool or do you just need the essentials?
Folders— Although your notebook has pockets with its dividers, college courses have a way of producing an unimaginable amount of paper work, packets, and syllabus revisions. By the end of my first semesters, I found that my notebooks were over stuffed with papers and the only way to keep things in order was to pick up some 5-Star folders. Even as a graduate student, with one or two classes a semester, there was no better way to keep track of papers I was receiving and my own assignments folders were indispensable.
Flash drive— Even if you don’t have a computer of your own, a flash drive is inexpensive and will keep you on top of your loads of work. A lot of times you will have to work with partners and you’ll need to accomplish some file sharing, or you’ll have to give a PowerPoint presentation in class (while email sometimes works, a thumb drive is a sure shot). At minimum, a flash drive will help you save your work to be printed later. When you write a paper or presentation at your university library, it is likely that the computer you’re working on will delete everything you’ve worked on before the next user comes along. So if you don’t finish it in one sitting you’ll have to save it somehow. I’ve seen people save things to a public desktop and lose all there work over night. If you have a flash drive you can work on any computer, keep your work updated, and share it with others. You will also be able to plug into classroom computers when you give a presentation. These little guys are going to make college a lot easier on you. These come with all different capacities. 128GB will last you five college degrees, so I recommend this 32GB ScanDisk that has enough space to carry all of your college assignments and notes, as well as some music and extras. If you want to save your entire music and movies library, check out College Tech for information on an external hard drive, which has a lot more saving capacity.
Don’t study hard, study smart!