Back-to-School Supply Checklist for College Students

School Supplies

Before you head off to college, it’s important to make sure you have all the essential supplies you’ll need. Being prepared will reduce stress throughout the semester and can save money if you buy supplies off-campus rather than at the campus bookstore. While everyone’s needs will be different depending on class schedules, there are some supplies that almost every college student can use. A list of back-to-school essentials to have on hand before the semester begins:

Heavy-Duty Backpack

A sturdy backpack is essential for carrying books and laptops. A cute or stylish bag may look good but isn’t always practical for carrying a heavy load around campus. AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack – Fits Up To 17-Inch Laptops

Number 2 Pencils and Mini Pencil Sharpener

You might take notes on your laptop or with pens, but number 2 pencils are still the standard for tests. Always keep at least a couple of number two pencils in your bag so you won’t have to do any last-minute scrambling. Along with the pencils, you should carry a sharpener since many classrooms don’t have sharpeners. Dixon Ticonderoga Pre-Sharpened with Erasers Pencils, #2, Yellow, Box of 30 (13830)

Paper Clips

Paper clips are convenient for keeping related papers together and helping with organization of your backpack. They’re also useful when you need turn in multi-page reports or papers. Keep some at home and some in your backpack. ACCO Paper Clips, Economy, Smooth, Jumbo, 100/Box, 10 Boxes (72580)

Composition Notebooks

Composition notebooks are often required for tests, especially in language courses. Always have a few on hand so you don’t have to go shopping right before a test. Even if you don’t use them this semester, you may need them later on. Mead Composition Notebook, College-Ruled, 100 Sheets, 12 Pack (72938)


Highlighters help you focus on the important aspects of textbook passages and notes. Choose lighter-colored highlighters (preferably yellow) so that you can still easily see the highlighted text. Sharpie Accent Tank-Style Highlighters, Fluorescent Yellow, 12 Pack (25025)

Page Markers

Page markers are convenient when you need to bookmark a specific page in a textbook but don’t want to damage the book by folding corners. Post-it Page Markers, 1/2 in x 1 3/4 in, Assorted Bright Colors, 50 Sheets/Pad, 10 Pads/Pack (670-10AB)


Keep a few basic black binders on hand in case you need them for a class project or larger report. You may also find it easier to organized by keeping class notes and materials all in one binder. Avery Economy View Binder with 2-Inch Round Ring, Black, Pack Of 4 (19205)

College-Ruled Paper

College-ruled paper is necessary even if you don’t normally take hand-written notes. Some classes may not allow laptops or you may need paper for in-class essays or tests. Keep your paper in a binder or folder that’s always in your bag so you won’t be caught off guard when you need it. Mead Filler Paper, Loose Leaf Paper, College Ruled, 200 Sheets/Pack (15326)

Pocket Folders

Pocket folders are handy for storing class materials such as syllabi or notes. Keep at least one in your bag at all times to help maintain order in your backpack. Oxford Twin Pocket Folders, Letter Size, Assorted Colors, 25 per Box (57513)

Report Covers

Report covers will make your reports and papers look more professional and neat. Even if they aren’t required, they make a good impression. Oxford Premium Clear Front Report Covers, Letter Size, Black, 25 per Pack (58806)

Although this list won’t include everything you need, the items above will give you a head start on your school supply shopping and reduce the need to pay more money for over-priced campus bookstore supplies.