33 School Supplies Every College Student Needs

Getting ready to head to college? Check out these must-have college school supplies to make your higher ed experience go as smoothly as possible.
portrait of Staff Writers
Staff Writers
Read Full Bio


The staff writers for BestColleges collaborate to deliver unique, student-driven content on topics such as career development, college life, and college planning....
Updated on May 5, 2023
Edited by
portrait of Hannah Muniz
Hannah Muniz
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Hannah Muniz is a senior editor with BestColleges, specializing in college planning, test prep, student life, and sponsored content. She previously worked as a freelance writer, composing articles on the SAT/ACT, higher education, language learning, ...
Learn more about our editorial process

Advertising Disclosure: Our team independently selected these products. If you purchase a product through one of our links, we may collect compensation. Pricing and availability are accurate at the time of publication.

From elementary school through high school, students are told exactly what school supplies they'll need for classes. With the independence that college brings, however, you can pick what supplies work best for you.

Going in with the right college school supplies can make all the difference, helping prepare you for success in your classes. Below are 33 must-have supplies that any student could benefit from, no matter their course of study.

Price Legend

Chevron Down

$ = Under $10 | $$ = $10-$25 | $$$ = $26-$50 | $$$$ = Over $50

1. Pens

Our Recommendation: Zebra Z-Grip Retractable Ballpoint Pens, 24-Pack

Having the right pens can make all the difference in school. These ballpoint pens by Zebra can improve your quality of notes and your speed of note-taking, all while providing comfort during those long study sessions. You'll get both black and blue pens in this 24-pack.

2. Pencils

Our Recommendation: BIC Xtra-Smooth Mechanical Pencils, 40-Pack

These top-rated No. 2 mechanical pencils feature a dark, smudge-resistant lead that erases easily, making for clearer notes in class and cleaner scantron sheets for tests. The convenient mechanical action means you don't need to worry about buying a pencil sharpener, either.

3. Erasers

Our Recommendation: AmazonBasics Pink Erasers, 12-Count

To remove temporary notes, clean up diagrams, or change a scantron answer, you'll need an eraser. These affordable classic pink erasers feature a comfortable grip and can erase pencil marks without smudges or the need for too much pressure. The 12-count pack will last you a long time as well.

4. Highlighters

Our Recommendation: Sharpie Liquid Retractable Highlighters, 8-Pack

Along with taking notes, highlighting textbook passages can help you focus on important material. This set of retractable highlighters includes a variety of stylish and bright colors, making it easy to color-code and categorize your notes and passages for review. The nontoxic, smear-proof ink means no neon smudges on any paper you use them on.

5. Pencil Case

Our Recommendation: EASTHILL Big Capacity Pencil Case

Hold and protect your college school supplies in style with this large pencil case. The EASTHILL case can store up to 50 pens or up to 90 pencils, along with other small items like erasers. You can choose from a variety of colors, including black, pink, cyan, and yellow.

6. Notebooks

Our Recommendation: Oxford 1-Subject, College-Ruled Spiral Notebooks, 6-Pack

This assorted six-pack of single-subject notebooks allows you to easily sort your notes by class. The 70 college-ruled sheets in each notebook are three-hole-punched so they can be stored in binders and perforated for easy removal. Each sheet is durable and minimizes bleedthrough from pens and markers.

7. Folders

Our Recommendation: Five Star 4-Pocket Folders, 6-Pack

These folders by Five Star feature vertical pockets to hold papers and horizontal pockets that display handy reference charts, like measurement conversions. They come in assorted colors and are three-hole-punched for easy binder storage. The folders are also water resistant.

8. Binders

Our Recommendation: Samsill Plant-Based Durable 2-Inch 3-Ring Binders, 4-Pack

Whether organizing papers, keeping homework neat, or presenting a bound report, nothing beats the classic three-ring binder. This pack is plant based, helping protect the environment from excess plastic waste. The four-pack means you'll have a binder ready to keep organized for all of your college classes.

9. Notebook Paper

Our Recommendation: Oxford College-Ruled Filler Paper, 500 Sheets

These college-ruled notebook sheets are three-hole-punched and designed for students. The narrower lines accommodate more writing, and the sheets use up less space in binders. They also produce less waste.

10. Planner

Our Recommendation: Smart Academic Planner

A planner makes it easy to keep track of due dates, deadlines, your class schedule, and personal appointments. This academic planner comes in a sleek faux leather binding and includes both monthly and weekly calendars.

11. Sticky Notes

Our Recommendation: Vanpad Sticky Notes, 8-Pack

Sticky notes make it easy to attach reminders to nearly any surface, from your desk to your laptop. This set of eight 82-sheet pads features sturdy pages and includes an array of bright, memorable colors.

12. Book Tabs

Our Recommendation: Lysas Neon Page Markers Colored Index Tabs

Book tabs let you flag pages and passages for quick reference later without making a permanent mark on your book. They also help you reference materials quickly in class and find page numbers without the hassle. This 560-piece set of neon book tabs makes it easy to color-code passages and pages.

13. Calculator

Our Recommendation: Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro Scientific Calculator

If you're taking a math or science class in college, you'll need a reliable calculator. The TI-36X Pro lets you view multiple equations at once and save your answers. Its settings are even robust enough for science and engineering students.

14. Binder Clips

Our Recommendation: DSTELIN Binder Clips Assorted Sizes, 100-Count

Binder clips allow you to fasten large stacks of papers without damaging or losing any sheets. These tempered steel clips provide a strong grip and can be easily removed and reused. You'll get a variety of sizes, from micro to extra large.

15. Stapler

Our Recommendation: Amazon Basics Stapler

This handy office stapler can bind up to 10 pages and holds 200 staples. The rubber base grips to most surfaces, and the hinged back allows you to staple papers to other materials with ease. You'll get 1,000 staples with this stapler.

16. Scissors

Our Recommendation: iBayam Multipurpose Scissors, 3-Pack

This set of multipurpose scissors features comfortable, straight-handled grips and stainless steel blades that allow for precise cuts. Coming in three colors (mint, gray, and purple), these scissors are extremely durable and versatile, making them perfect for any college student.

17. Tape

Our Recommendation: Scotch Magic Tape, 6 Rolls

Scotch is one of the most highly rated brands of tape. Students can use tape to seal folders, make crafts, hang papers, and repair various items around their home. A six-pack ensures you always have enough tape on hand.

18. Paper Clips

Our Recommendation: Officemate PVC-Free Color-Coated Paper Clips

These paper clips are perfect for keeping your papers neat and organized. The variety of bright colors aren't just eye-catching but useful for color-coding stacks of documents and notes. The smooth finish also means no accidental cuts or paper tears.

19. Note Cards

Our Recommendation: Amazon Basics 4 x 6-Inch Ruled Lined Index Cards

Perfect for making flashcards and presentation notes, note cards are essential for college students. This set of 500 heavy-duty index cards are lined on one side for a cleaner and more professional look.

20. Three-Hole Punch

Our Recommendation: Bostitch Office 3-Hole Punch

A three-hole punch can help you organize stray papers and put them in binders. This three-hole punch comes in silver and gray can punch up to 12 sheets of paper at once. Its rubber base provides a stable grip on many surfaces, making it both durable and easy to use.

21. Water Bottle

Our Recommendation: Thermoflask Double Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle

This vacuum-insulated, BPA-free water bottle keeps up to 40 ounces of your favorite drinks at their ideal temperatures for longer. The food-grade stainless steel reduces condensation and resists rust. You'll get two lids and a variety of colors to choose from.

22. Backpack

Our Recommendation: Matein Travel Laptop Backpack

For carrying heavy textbooks, laptops, and personal items, a backpack is necessary for any college student. This bag, available in various colors, is big enough to fit everything you need, from books to laptops. It's also waterproof, ensuring your books and electronics stay safe no matter the weather.

Have More Questions Before Heading Back to School?

Dive into our collection of back-to-school resources to find tips, checklists, and insights from real students.

Read More right arrow

23. Laptop

Our Recommendation: Microsoft Surface Pro 8

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is an excellent choice for a hybrid laptop and tablet. With a touchscreen for quick navigation and a fully functional keyboard for note-taking and writing papers, you get the best of both worlds. At just under 2 pounds, it's also light enough to carry between classes with ease.

24. Wireless Mouse

Our Recommendation: ZERU Rechargeable Wireless Bluetooth Mouse

This sleek wireless mouse is compatible with over 99% of Bluetooth-capable devices. It has a USB-compatible rechargeable battery that can stay charged for up to 500 hours. Students can pick from colors like black, silver, rose gold, and yellow.

25. Flash Drive

Our Recommendation: SanDisk 128 GB Ultra Flair USB 3.0 Flash Drive

A flash drive lets you backup and transport all your important files in one convenient place. With 128 GB of storage space, this flash drive is large enough to keep copies of all your essays, projects, and personal files. A USB 3.0 connection means blazing-fast transfer speeds.

26. Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Our Recommendation: ZZD Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Hours on the computer often mean eye strain and headaches caused from blue light exposure. These glasses filter out blue light, sparing you from eye strain. Available in multiple designs, the ZZD blue light blocking glasses feature untinted lenses, preserving color while sparing your eyes.

27. Wireless Earbuds

Our Recommendation: TOZO T10 Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds

These wireless earbuds offer great sound quality and a charging box that provides up to six hours of playtime with every charge. They automatically sync and pair with many Bluetooth devices. Color options include black, blue, gray, and khaki.

28. Headset With Microphone

Our Recommendation: Logitech H390 USB Headset With Noise-Canceling Microphone

For online classes and Zoom meetings, a headset with a microphone lets you clearly communicate without issue. This Logitech headset's noise-canceling technology means you'll be understood, even if there's background noise. The product's light weight and low profile mean you won't feel weighed down in the middle of class, either.

29. Office Chair Pillow

Our Recommendation: Everlasting Comfort Lumbar Support Pillow for Office Chair

This stylish, comfortable pillow is made with breathable material. It works by conforming to the curves of your back to offer pain relief, support, and posture control. Available in colors like blue, red, and black, this office chair pillow features adjustable straps and a lifetime warranty.

30. Desk Lamp

Our Recommendation: AFROG Multifunctional LED Desk Lamp

With a portable LED desk lamp, you'll be well equipped for late-night study sessions. This lamp features five lighting modes, five brightness levels, and an auto-off timer. A rechargeable battery with a USB-compatible charging port allows you to use the lamp wirelessly as well.

31. Printer

Our Recommendation: HP DeskJet Wireless Color All-in-One Printer

For students taking classes from home or preparing presentations and reports, a printer is a must-have. The HP DeskJet all-in-one printer is wireless, making it perfect for a dorm or apartment with limited space. It also boasts a color scanner and comes with six months of free ink.

32. Printer Paper

Our Recommendation: HP BrightWhite Printer Paper, 500 Sheets

This bright, thick paper is compatible with various printers and comes from renewable forest resources. You'll get 500 sheets, or 24 pounds, of high-quality, sturdy printer paper in this set, allowing you to print assignments, images, and other school materials with ease.

33. Power Strip

Our Recommendation: Anker 12-Outlet Power Strip Surge Protector

This mountable power strip boasts 12 outlets and a surge protector, providing enough room for all of your most important devices. It also contains four fast-charging USB ports and overheating protection. The 6-foot cord gives you plenty of options for organizing your space at home.