Studying at college

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Studying at college: Part 2 of the Tips for College series covers desk supplies

Not every student needs all of the items in our series of tips on what to bring for the ultimate dorm room Ė our list is comprehensive Ė we want to let you know about some of the little-known necessities. The college brochure and packing guide you get is usually pretty basic.

Read on for tips to the ultimate space for studying at college, which covers the most important things to buy or pack. Because studying is what you are going to college for after all, right?


The study center of a dorm room is focused around a solitary desk. Dorms have one desk and one chair per roommate. The desk often has drawers and shelving or a standalone bookcase. The desk chair is basic, but can be replaced with oneís own chair to suit their specifications. This one desk must be well-organized in order to house books, supplies, and everything else youíll need for class.

The following supplies are college and organizational essentials.


Just because youíve outgrown high school, doesnít mean that youíve outgrown the usefulness of a backpack. Donít bother trying to haul your books, notebooks, papers, pens, pencils, calculator, and laptop around without a sturdy bag. Typical Jansport backpacks do the job. Some students prefer to upgrade to a briefcase while others stick to messenger or tote bags. Whichever is your preferred backpack, the important thing is that you have one.


Of course youíll need class assigned textbooks and novels. This required reading is costly so be sure to set aside funds for the most necessary school supply. You can buy them at the school store, or rent text books online. Bringing a few favorite books from home is a good idea. 

While an entire series may take up too much room on the bookshelf, a few good reads will fit nicely between dry textbook material. A lot of college students unwind by reading entertainment literature in between class assigned chapters. Not to mention that a few gossip magazines are sure to be a hit during your next girl hangout session.

The best way to jot down notes and reminders is on a large whiteboard hung above your desk.


The best friend of the mathematics major, scientific calculators are needed in many science and math courses.


Keep track of the days so that you wonít be caught off guard for an important holiday or birthday. Itís easy to lose track of the days, let alone the months, while in a studying daze. Wall calendars also serve as reminders to upcoming deadlines or examination periods.


Since youíre provided a standard desk chair it is completely optional to bring a replacement. However, a comfortable swivel chair or cool mesh back office chair may be worth it. 

Desk lamp

A smaller desk lamp is necessary for long nights sitting at your desk. Desk lamps come in all sorts of sizes and colors. Some lamps have clamps that can be stuck to headboards or shelves with a swivel base. Others are equipped with special bulbs simulating natural light in order to fight off seasonal affective disorder (SAD).


While technology surpasses the more traditional methods of communication like handwritten letters, it is more personal to send home a letter. A fun way of keeping in touch with former classmates and high school friends, letters are a thoughtful way to let someone know you were thinking of them.


Keep a separate folder for each class to keep important papers organized. Itís especially useful to keep the syllabus for each class in the front pocket of each folder since it highlights weekly readings and deadlines.


Make sure to bring your favorite headphones or earbuds to listen to your music or class assignments without disturbing others in the library.


Never underestimate the power of multicolored highlighters to keep track of important bits of text in class readings.
Index cards

Thereís a reason why index cards are high school teacherís preferred method to helping students memorize vocabulary words. This practice holds true in college as well. Index cards are perfect for vocab heavy courses and language courses.

Ink cartridge

Make sure to always have an extra ink cartridge for the printer on hand. Itís a pain to run out of black ink minutes before having to turn in a hardcopy of an essay. Donít be the student running to the library or depending on neighbors for last minute printing.


Many students and teachers believe that personal laptops are absolutely necessary for keeping up in college. And many schools are now requiring them. 
Guaranteed, every class will have at least some component in which a laptop will provide beneficial Ė weekly blog responses, essays typed in word documents, Powerpoint presentations, etc. While colleges have computer labs open to students, itís inconvenient to spend countless hours in a lab with limited hours every time you need internet connection.


The days of notes are not over just because youíve graduated to college. Plenty of students choose to type lecture notes on their laptops. However, classes with diagrams or equations are easier to record by hand. Besides, the task of transcribing notes in a notebook and then typing them after class increases retention.


Both loose leaf paper and printer paper are quickly used supplies. Keep a stack of paper in one drawer of your desk.


Itís easy to overlook small desk supplies that will help keep students organized. Paperclips are an organizational essential.

Pencil sharpener

I canít tell you how many times I had neighbors barge into my room asking to sharpen their pencils with my electric pencil sharpener. For believers of the classic number two pencil a sharpener Ė electric or manual Ė is a necessity.


Stock up on pens and pencils since they are sure to disappear quickly.


A lot of students have been trained to use planners to document class assignments and deadlines. If you werenít fond of keeping organized by jotting down daily reminders, I suggest you do now. Itís nearly impossible to keep track of class assignments mentally Ė exacerbated by the fact that classes arenít five days a week at the same time every day. For a free online solution, try, that allows you to keep lists, schedule dates and lots more.


Printers are more useful than essential. Computer labs have printers that print for free or for a minimal fee. In essay laden classes, computers are much more necessary than for a class primarily made up of problem sets. Printers combined with scanners are doubly useful Ė problem set classes often request that students scan their work and upload it to a homework site.


Who knows when youíll need to draw a straight line.


If you donít want to gnaw on packaging to open care packages, scissors are a must.


A stapler fully loaded with staples will turn a stack of papers into a professional academic essay in a matter of seconds Ė minus the researching and writing of said essay. Actually, itíll just hold it together for you.


A stereo that can be connected with an mp3 device or an iPod and a computer is great for listening to tunes.

Sticky notes

Sticky notes are little beacons meant to remind you of questions to ask regarding class reading or a shopping list before heading to the drug store.


Anything can be fixed with a little duct tape. Tape can be used to hang up posters, string lights, birthday streamers, patch together a frayed notebook or folder, and fashion clothing. Seriously Ė havenít you heard of the duct tape college scholarship program?

USB drive

USB drives can be used to back up important class work or for easily transportable power point presentations. Since many students carry their laptops around 24/7 a USB drive may be irrelevant to have. Still, itís better safe than sorry.

This was Part 2 in a series that covers the bedroom, study, kitchen, bathroom, closet, and miscellaneous areas in a dorm room. These college essentials are broken down into living spaces of a dorm room Ė or rather, one roomís multi-functional uses.

Part 1: Dorm bedroom ideas

Or skip ahead:

Part 3:
What you need for Dorm Room Cooking
Part 4:
Surviving the Dorm Bathroom
Part 5:
Pack your College Wardrobe Basics
Part 6:
and everything else you shouldn't forget for What You Really Need for College

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