As a college student, when you’re not in class or eating in the food hall, you’re glued to your desk doing homework and papers. So all you need is a computer, right?
Living on your own means stocking up on essential desk items, so that they’re close at hand when you need them. To make your shopping list easier, we’ve come up with X things every college student should have on their desk in order to successfully complete and organize assignments.
Yes, you need a computer
But what kind of a computer? Firstly, we’d recommend a laptop over a desktop computer for sheer convenience of taking it to class if you prefer to take electronic notes. Plus, laptops save desk space. Seeing space around the objects on your desk is relaxing and can help your brain focus on one task at a time without getting overwhelmed by “stuff” and clutter.
Secondly, weigh the pros and cons of getting a Mac versus an IBM compatible computer. Mac’s are very expensive, but they rarely get viruses. They also have amazing graphics cards, so if your majoring in the arts or anything visual-- you’ll want to invest in a Mac. They also have an incredible warranty and highly-rated client service.
Honestly? Otherwise it’s just not worth the price. IBM compatible brands like Hewlett-Packard save you money, as does Google Chromebooks. Although Chromebooks depend on WiFi to work, so if the power goes out so does most of its functionality.
Hold it together now!
You really need to bring a stapler, staples, paperclips, and binder clips with you to college. Your teacher will never have a stapler with them-- because unlike your teachers in high school, the classroom is not their office. They share the classroom with other teachers at different times, so they cannot bring their office supplies with them. And really, asking you to hand in papers that are stapled or paperclipped together is not too much to ask. You’re essentially an adult living on your own-- it’s time you paid attention to details like this.
The thing to remember is that some professors want staples and some want paperclips. Some will want you to hand in a final copy of your paper along with all of your drafts-- binder clips will come in handy at that point, especially for longer projects.
These little things that hold stuff together also help with organization. When you’ve got a paper in progress, paper clips and binder clips can help keep pages worked on seperate from pages in progress without creating a fluttery mess of notes and paper all over the floor. They also help keep drafts together. It’s a good idea to keep your drafts handy, in case you need to go back and find something you deleted from an earlier draft. It also helps you track your progress as a student.
Speaking of papers...
Printers and ink aren’t as expensive as people think they are-- most basic printers are under $60 after sales and rebates, and there are plenty of ink subscription services to keep your cartridge supply full and at the ready. And you’ll be needing to print A LOT of paper!
Sure, you could print at the library or computer lab, but you only get so many pieces of paper assigned to your account and then you have to start paying “overdraft” fees. Better to bring your own printer, paper, and ink. Yes, use your allotted pieces of paper-- but save them for final copies or for when your own supply is running low.
Additionally, computer labs and libraries aren’t always open twenty-four hours a day. And while your roomies may not appreciate you printing papers at three in the morning, they’ll probably wind up doing the same thing later on.
Write it down
We love the convenience of a computer, but you have to be prepared to take notes at the drop of a hat. In college you simply have to have a pen or pencil on you at all times. Laptop batteries die, and sometimes you just don’t want to be bothered with lugging it from class to class to dorm room. And scientists know that the act of writing something down “tags” the knowledge in your head with a mind-body connection, thereby strengthening recall.
And pencils are essential for majors that require a lot of drafting or revisiting of work -- such as musicians, artists, engineers, mathematicians, architects, etc. They’re erasable far more easily than pens, and they never run out of ink. They’re also insanely cheap-- you can buy a whole pack of pencils for the same price as one pen. Grab a sharpener while you’re at it.
Sticky Notes or Journals
Sticky notes are a must-have for college-- they perform two vital functions. First, they help you leave yourself-- or your roommates-- essential reminders about homework and general life stuff. And second, sticky notes of all sizes are amazing for writing notes in books. The tiny ones are fantastic for marking important pages to discuss in class, and the regular-sized ones are great for making notes for class discussion or future papers.
But when you really want to get something out, a journal is a must-have. Check out these school-themed journals if you really want to take detailed notes by hand or have some personal time to reflect and ponder.
Oh, Mr. Postman!
Sending a letter may seem so old fashioned, but thank yous written by hand are impressive and classy. Grab a stack of cards, like these vintage university ones, for when the occasion arises.
And don’t forget Forever stamps from the post office. You’ll need them to mail out resumes, letters home, government and other official forms, taxes, and cards. Yes, you need to mail cards-- you’re an adult now, and you need to recognize people’s birthdays and anniversaries on your own now. And not to be a Debbie Downer or trigger anxiety, but you’re now old enough where you’re going to experience loss among your friends and family. Sympathy cards are just the right thing to do, even if you can make it to the funeral or if you’ve sent flowers. So mind your manners, and have a variety of cards and some stamps on hand to send as needed.
Everything in its place, and a place for everything
You’ve got the little things down, but what about where to put it all? Find containers for all of your little objects that fit your style-- mason jars, miniature terra cotta planters, and mugs or cups make great organizers for writing utensils, paper clips, binder clips, and rubber bands. Or buy an all-in-one desk organizer that has a variety of little drawers, depressions, and vessels to keep your desk objects in their right place.
Alternatively-- if your desk has a drawer or two-- purchasing drawer dividers could transform your organizational habits. A properly divided drawer can organize folders for homework, classwork, and important papers-- or keep writing implements and other small objects from rolling around in a mess. When drawers are organized, they fit more things inside them-- leaving your desktop clear to spread out papers and projects for a birds’ eye view.
When your desktop is clear, you also have more room to stack your textbooks that you’re using. Purchase some bookends to keep your books neatly vertical without falling over. Even if your desk comes with a shelf attachment, it’s still a good idea to have bookends to keep books corralled. That way you can fit more items on your shelf-- possibly personal touches, like photographs or keepsakes.
You can SEE, it’s a MIRACLE!
Your desk may come with a lamp attachment already, but those industrial bulbs can lead to migraines or poor study habits. Find one that matches your style and has the right kind of light for your work. This dimmable, portable one is the perfect size and look for most college students’ needs.
If your desk is too small to accomodate a desk lamp, get yourself a floor lamp. Artists and other majors who need to do detail work-- such as architects or mechanical engineers-- may benefit from purchasing a floor lamp that is super-bright and has a magnifying attachment. We don’t recommend this for day-to-day use, but the times when you need it to complete detail work on drawings will far outweigh the price tag and trouble lugging it to school.
We also recommend buying a flashlight or some LED candles. If the power goes out, you’ll need a way to see around the building and possibly the campus, too. Preferably, buy both-- even if you only use the LED candles for atmosphere, they’ll at least help you relax with soft light-- and the flashlight provides safety if you need to walk at night.
Power up, Buttercup!
While technically for under the desk, a safe power cord that can support your laptop, printer, chargers, and a lamp cannot be forgotten. Get one that has a surge protector in case of electricity going out.
In fact, don’t buy a power cord without a surge protector. Yes, they’re expensive-- look to spend around $20 or more for a good one-- but the investment is worth it. It beats needing to replace a fried laptop!
Make sure the surge protector has enough outlets on it. Try to get one that has at least eight to accommodate your laptop, lamp, printer, phone charger, and any gaming consoles, TVs, or other devices you wish to use.
With our shopping list, you’ll easily have a well-stocked desk that will help you stay organized and complete all of your assignments. If you think we’ve missed anything, let us know!