13 Amazing Must-Have School Supplies for College | You’ll Actually Use These!

Imagine this: you’re finally done with the semester and you’re heading home. You’re packing up all your stuff for the break and you realize that the school supplies you bought at the beginning of the semester – all those binders, notebooks, pens, highlighters, and page protectors – are still sitting unopened in the corner.

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Now, nothing is more thrilling than being able to pick out fun school supplies that you love! The pretty colors, the cute patterns, and all the metallic options are so fun to look through! However, at the end of the day, what you really want are school supplies that help you get things done, especially in college with all those homework assignments.

Getting Ready for College

College keeps getting more and more reliant on technology but sometimes it’s nice to have the basics, just in case! In this post, we’ll cover the basic school supplies for college (the must-haves), including some fun ones for studying, then another blog post will cover technology-related school supplies!

Top Three Products

In a hurry? Here are the three must-have school supplies to get you started in college.

A classic notebook for writing down assignments, notes, office hours, and more!

This is especially helpful if your professor doesn’t allow technology in class (not often, but still).

An iPad is great for taking digital notes, annotating PDFs, and, my personal favorite, reading textbooks on the go.

Even though I’m still a big advocate for handwritten notes, not having to drag a 500+ page textbook is worth getting the iPad.

If you need to see your whole semester in one glance, then this is the calendar you need.

Write down four months of deadlines, tests, quizzes, etc.

P.S. Get these markers too!

Back to the Basic(s) School Supplies

Let’s start with the basic school supplies. These are the must-have school supplies you should already have by your first day of college so you can hit the ground running, get through syllabus week, and start gathering those notes written down!

Pens & Pencils

Listen, typing out notes is all kinds of fun, especially if you have a fun app like GoodNotes on your iPad.

But most studies show that writing down notes is the best for learning! Plus, if you’re facing a class with lots of formulas and symbols, like math class, sometimes writing things out on paper is the easiest way to take notes. Whether you like to use pens and keep things permanent or use pencils and edit as you go, these are my favorite brands for pens and pencils.


Highlighters are the best way to bring some fun and color into your notes! Show off your personality with some pastels or bright colors.

I love using a traditional yellow highlighter in a snap, maybe during in-class notes where everything is messy, or while annotating articles where I add in written notes. However, for a lot of other things, I usually use my pastel highlighters from the Zebra Mildliner collection. They have some amazing pastel color options, and the markers include a chisel tip and a fine-line tip!

Correction Tape & Correction Liquid

Correction tape aka white-out is a necessity for pen writers!

I tend to use pens for the majority of my note-taking because of the high contrast (compared to pencils) but it does suck when I make a mistake! I usually keep a small white-out with me for those rare (read: not rare at all, it happens all the time) moments when I make a mistake during note-taking or while using my planner.

I personally prefer correction tape because it has no dry time but there’s also a two-in-one correction liquid pen that is also dries quickly!


For taking a quick note, notebooks are the best!

I usually take my in-class notes in a notebook and then either type them up on my computer or simply rewrite them in the notebook (with highlighters). I prefer my notebooks to be the size of a letter, so the Five Star notebooks are my absolute favorite. Composition notebooks have super cute covers though so if you don’t care about sizes, check those out!

If you’re looking for more brands with cute school or office supplies, check out this post with all of my favorite office supply brands (some are even on Amazon for that two-day shipping)!

Picture of Noted Collection at Target | School supplies for college

Folders or Binders? A School Supplies Conundrum

Loose-leaf papers can easily get overwhelming!

If you’re just expecting a syllabus for each class, one folder or binder to keep them all together could be a great idea and will reduce your backpack weight. If you’re expecting a lot of handouts for just one class, then keeping a separate folder or binder for that class will be beyond helpful. If you expect a lot of loose-leaf papers for all of your classes, I suggest getting separate folders for each class or getting an expanding file folder!

I used to carry a separate binder for each class when I was in college, and I hugely regret it. It took up so much space in my backpack and made it super heavy. I wish I would have just used a notebook for notes and a folder for any handouts. Lesson learned just in time for graduate school!


Planners need to accomplish two major things when you’re in college: let you plan your day and help you track your homework.

Planning your day is super important in college because there are so many things you’re balancing: classes, club meetings, office hours, group project meetings, work hours, and so much more! That’s not even considering keeping track of quiz and test dates, midterms, and final exams.

One of my favorite products I got in college was a wall calendar that showed me four months of the year. After filling it out, I could EASILY see my busiest weeks that had tests, quizzes, or exams.

Digital Planners

If you’re interested in digital planning, I made this digital planner that has a section for your class schedule, let’s you plan from 6 AM until midnight, and has a daily planner.

School Supplies You’ll Need but Probably Forgot

These are the school supplies that most people forget because you won’t be using them very often, but you’ll REGRET not having them the ONE time you need them. Plus, it’s a great way to make friends since everyone will want to borrow these!

Stapler / Mini Stapler

A stapler is a college school supply that so many people forget about until they need it!

If you’re still turning in printed papers, then having a mini stapler that you can keep in your backpack will be such a lifesaver. There were so many times that the library stapler would get jammed and people were in a rush to leave with their papers, even if they were unstapled. Plus, it’s a great way to make friends since everyone will be wanting to borrow your stapler.

Hole Puncher

If your college class will be handing out lots of loose-leaf papers, then a hole puncher is necessary for keeping them neat in folders and binders.

P.S. Get the matching gold stapler

P.S. Get the matching acrylic gold stapler


If you move into a college dorm, you’ll quickly realize how many “basics” you don’t have that you took for granted at home!

Tape is definitely one of those things. While I rarely used tape for assignments, I used it quite a few times for bulletin boards, sports banners/signs, poster decorations, and so many other random things!


Another one of those school supplies that you might not use for your classes but will definitely come in handy for the fun parts of college, like making signs for your favorite sports teams, decorating for a party, and creating dorm decor!

Sticky Notes / Index Cards

Sticky notes are an amazing way to add context to your notes or to add personal notes to your textbook readings.

I prefer sticky notes with lines so my writing can stay neater when taking notes. The bigger sticky note sizes are GAME CHANGERS because you can create to-do lists and move them around until you’re done! Transparent sticky notes are perfect for taking notes in your textbooks or literature books.

Index Tabs

Index tabs are great for marking various things in your notes and textbooks, and even leaving yourself reminders in your apartment!

I loved using index tabs for marking various chapters in my textbooks and in my notes. You can add the deadlines for each chapter on them, mark important sections, or connect textbook ideas to your notebooks.

USB Drive

Keeping files online is truly the best way to make sure you never lose your files but I highly recommend getting a flash drive as a backup so you can also work offline, especially if you’re working with large files.

Starting a new college semester can be a fun and stressful time. Getting ready during syllabus week is better than waiting until the semester is halfway over to realize you haven’t been prepared this whole time!

These school supplies will help you tackle some of the anxieties that come with all the assignments, quizzes, and tests of college. I didn’t want to make this blog post much longer so another blog post will cover technology-related school supplies that can be really helpful!

Now start working on those papers because they won’t write themselves!

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Cute School Supplies You’ll Actually Use in College.

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