Supplies You Definitely Need for University

If you’re heading to college/university for the first time, you’re probably packing right about now. Or, well, not. I know how students think — doing things at the last minute. 😉 Well, allow me to make your frantic “I NEED TO PACK” realization a little easier.

I know these kinds of lists are everywhere on the internet, but I’ve curated this one, so it is far from comprehensive and mostly academic-related; most of these are items I didn’t pack for my first semester, or I took them not expecting to actually need them. Spoiler alert: you’ll probably need them at some point. And others — your roommates, your friends, or that brilliant but unprepared person in your hardest class  will be glad you have them!

School Supplies

  • Planner — If you’re a slightly anal person, like me, you’ll want this to keep track of assignments, due dates, and other important scheduling information.
  • Loose-leaf notebook paper — You’ll be surprised how many times someone will need some scrap paper. I’ve even had a professor ask for some once!
  • Extra pens and pencils — Ingratiate yourself with the cool kids (AKA, the smart kids) in class by having extra writing utensils. Just… maybe don’t expect to get them back…
  • Highlighters — If you’re a visual learner, these will be your best friend for marking due dates, important notes, or the time of the next football game.
  • Index cards — We all have those gen ed’s that require memorizing tons of names, dates, and definitions. Index cards will be a blessing in these situations.
  • Sticky notes — If you’re like me, you need to write down every task you have to complete, or you’ll forget it. In those cases, sticky notes rock!
  • Extra lead for mechanical pencils — See note about extra pencils. Also, you don’t want to run out of lead either, especially right before an exam!
  • Mini stapler — I had one of these and kept it in my pencil case, but I think my friends and classmates used it at least as much as I did.
  • Large block eraser — We all make mistakes. This makes it a little easier to pretend you don’t.
  • Three-hole punch — If you use ring binders and want to look like you actually have your life together, this thing is your friend.


  • USB drive — This is so important. Save essays, documents, photos, etc. on here. Just be careful not to lose it!
  • Ethernet cable — If Wi-Fi is spotty or unreliable where you live, you might find it easier to just plug your laptop in while in your dorm or apartment.


  • Clorox wipes — Whether you live in a dorm or an apartment, you’ll have to clean out your space at the end of the year/lease. (But doing so more often is a good idea too.)
  • Paper towels or dish towels — Especially if you cook, towels are great for cleaning up spills or drying dishes.
  • Stain remover stick — If you’re clumsy but keep this in your backpack or purse, it could save you from some embarrassing moments!
  • Air freshener — Especially in dorm life, you’ll want something nice smelling. I’m not saying college kids are bad about doing laundry, but… okay, yes I am. I’m guilty too.
  • Dish soap and sponge — Please do dishes. Everyone you live with will thank you. And if your roommate is bad about this, you can always leave these out as a hint…
  • Broom/dust pan or vacuum — See note about Clorox wipes. 


  • First aid kit — I mostly used bandaids from my first aid kit, but once my roommate cut her hand more severely (not enough to need a hospital or anything, though!) and she used some of the gauze and alcohol wipes. You’re better safe than sorry! These are also pretty cheap at supermarkets and come in various sizes.
  • Small fan — If you like white noise (or something to block out a loud apartment or dorm building), this can be great to help you get to sleep! Or, of course if it’s hot and you need some air.
  • Batteries — If you have anything that runs on batteries (alarm clock, flashlight, wall clock, etc.) you’ll want to have a few of these around.
  • Ear plugs or noise-canceling headphones — Again, if your building is loud, these can help. Especially if you really need to study or just relax alone for a while. 

As I mentioned, this list is far from comprehensive: I left out most items you’ll need. These are just some you might think aren’t helpful or did not even think of at all.

What random item did you find unexpectedly useful in university? Did I forget something? Say so in the comments below!


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