• Nicole Reinders

The Top Ten Minimalist Essentials for School Supplies

It’s the middle of July, hot and sticky, and I am ready to go back to school.


In fact, I am so excited, I have come up with the top ten essentials for anyone going into college.

I am a minimalist to a certain degree. I hate clutter and anything deemed unnecessary, however, I do not exclude myself to keeping only a certain number of objects. If I find value in it and can imagine it’s uses years down the road, I will get it.



Below are the top ten school supplies for anyone who is not wanting to overspend and purchase things they will never use but wants to gain an idea of what exactly is needed to start college.


1. Pens

I only write with pens. I’m faster with a pen, I can read what I wrote easily, compared to a pencil which often reflects light, and I don’t need to fuss with an eraser. I am extremely particular with what pens I use, but I always purchase ‘rolling ball’ ones. These allow for the ink to roll effortlessly onto the paper, and you won’t have to draw circles on the top of the page to allow for ink to come out.


My current favorite is Pilot Precise V5, extra fine. This one is not too thick, the ink lasts a long time, and has a smooth, even finish.


2. Pencils

Unfortunately, my need for pencils has not ceased to exist. Scantron tests still require pencil to fill in the bubbles. My freshman year I also opted for using pencil in my physics and math classes so that I could easily erase my work if I got the answer wrong.


3. Water Bottle

I do not know if I could go a single day without a water bottle. Surprisingly, there are not a lot of bubblers/drinking fountains scattered throughout buildings, meaning that if you need a drink during class you must walk a long way before finding one. Keeping a water bottle is also handy especially when you have a cough and need something to drink as to not disrupt class. I also always keep one on me because I usually head to the gym right before or immediately after my classes and don’t want to go home in-between.


4. Laptop

There are ways you can get around not having a laptop throughout your college career, but it would be difficult. As an architecture student, I spend long days and nights on projects. Some days I want to go home or to a local coffee shop to get a change of scene from school. My laptop has allowed me to do that. I downloaded the programs I needed onto it, so that I can go to and from any place with exactly what I need to complete the job. A laptop is also useful for taking notes in class. While I do try and write them by hand because I remember them more easily, I sometimes take a laptop if the class is content heavy. Typing is faster than writing and by typing your notes, you can pay more attention and dissect to what the professor is saying.


5. Planner Journal

This past semester, I worked three jobs and took 18 credits, so I was busy all the time. Each year I use a dotted notebook as my place to keep everything. I start each week by listing out the activities, homework assignments, meetups, volunteering, work times, and miscellaneous to-dos I have to do in that week. Then I write out my schedule for the week, starting with Monday and ending with Sunday, and plan out my day-to-day. This notebook I bring with me everywhere and holds random things such as some poetry journal entries, to-do and grocery lists, budgeting pages, and even some class notes. I know some people would have a separate notebook for every single one of these items. However, I have found that I do not enjoy carrying around more than necessary, I often didn’t fill out these notebooks before throwing one out, and I felt more scattered because I could visually see all of my thoughts displayed in one place.


6. Notebook

I use a gridded notebook from Five Star. I use up an entire notebook before moving on to the next one. I am majoring in Architecture but have some Urban Planning, English, and Honors classes. I have a new notebook for each of these categories, but not a separate notebook for each class. I am going into my senior year and I still use the same notebooks from my freshman year. To avoid a messy notebook, I advise dividing up your notebook into sections and placing a sticky note on the top of each to denote what it is. For example, in my architecture notebook, I have five tabs marking the section for each of my architecture classes.


These notebooks also have folders in the front which is where I put all my import documents. Otherwise I do carry around manila folders to place these in, and I have one for each class.


7. Flash Drive

This one is so important. While you can use The Cloud or OneDrive, I find this to be difficult. I print most of my documents at campus and I am often in a rush from one thing to another. Having a flash drive makes things a lot simpler when switching from one computer to another as you do not have to log in each time you switch. It is also wise to have a flash drive as an extra place to save documents, besides saving them on your laptop or computer.


8. Backpack or Shoulder Bag

This is a must have, and honestly a no brainer. Unless you go to class with the intention to not bring anything with you. During the school year, I use a backpack because I have so much to carry, from my notebooks to laptop, workout gear and lunch. I enjoy using a backpack because it has so much room to place a lot of things in.


I also use a shoulder bag for work, carrying an extra pair of clothes, a book, and a wallet when traveling between jobs. This one usually stays in my car and I only interchange items when needed. This helps me when I am on the run from one activity to another and don’t necessarily have time to run inside and grab what I need. By having a base of items in my shoulder bag, I can run and go, not worrying if I forgot anything.


9. Mini Stapler

This has saved my life many times. I am usually in a rush between classes and wait until the last minute to print things, because it is such a hassle and usually an unpleasant experience. Since I am usually sprinting between one of my classes ending, printing, and going to my next class, I don’t have time to locate a stapler. This mini one helps so much. I always keep this in my backpack and staple my documents when I get to class.


Also, the number of times my classmates has asked me for one, is countless. It is really hard to find staplers around campus and most students don’t have the time to locate one and don’t come to class with their papers together. By having a mini stapler, you will save your own butt and those of your classmates while making lots of new connections when they ask to borrow it.


10. Sticky Notes

I use sticky notes for everything. From writing out my to-do lists, separating my notebooks into sections, marking up textbooks with my notes, and writing down things to remember. I keep a couple of varieties on hand. In high school, I never used these, however realized their importance once I got to college. I went through a transition period of forcing myself to use them, however, since I am now in the habit, I use these everyday for a variety of activities. It has made my life easier when going to study or trying to relocate information for a paper.


Overall, this list is made to guide and help you. Not all of these will be useful for you. However, I hope this helps as you embark on this new adventure or get new ideas for the upcoming school year. The best piece of advice I can give you, is to experiment with different methods and then settle on one that works best for you. You will succeed more in school if you use the resources available to you.

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