The end of July is upon us and it is time to start thinking about what you’ll need when the Fall semester starts. The best deals on school supplies will be happening now. The end of July is prime time for school supplies deals. Things may get cheaper as it gets closer to the semester but then you run the risk of only getting what is left as a lot of items will be sold out. Trust me. Buying your supplies online can save you money because you don’t run the risk of impulse buying like you would when you’re in the store. I can’t even count the number of times I have walked into Target for one thing and walked out with a cart full of stuff I don’t even need. I’m looking at you Peanut Butter Oreos and People magazine. With online shopping you are more likely to stick to your list. I know what you’re thinking. Those shipping charges are going to kill me! Actually, many online retailers have free shipping if you spend over a certain amount or pay a special way. Amazon users who have Prime (if you don’t have Amazon Prime for Students don’t even talk to me right now) almost never have to worry about shipping and get their items in two days. So, what exactly do you need? We’re going to look at the actual supplies you need for going to class and studying. Living items like sheets and microwaves are another story. Today, we focus on the little things. Here’s a list of pretty common items you’re going to need to make it through the semester.
- Post-It Flags – These little guys come in handy when studying. I like to color code them as I’m reading a chapter. One color might be for terms I want to remember later. One color might be for arguments I can use in an essay and another color could stand for phrases I want to quote. Don’t underestimate their usefulness!
- Planner – Today, you can pretty much use your iPhone’s calendar to schedule everything. But nothing really compares to the pen and paper of a planner. New students at SBU get an SBU planner with important dates and info throughout. That is helpful already. I’m a big fan of the hands on method of planning, even as a tech geek.
- Stapler – Professors have refused to accept assignments that are not stapled. That little trick where you fold the paper over in the corner and tear it to keep it in place was cute in high school. It will not flow in college. No one cares if the stapler in the library was out of staples or a unicorn stole it on a magical tricycle of rainbows. Whatever excuse you come up with, the point remains; you didn’t staple your paper and now it is being rejected. Don’t be that guy. Get one of those mini staplers and keep it in your bag. Everyone in class will want to be your friend.
- Highlighters – These are amazing if you don’t have post-it flags, or if you lose the flags. Whether you want to highlight something on the syllabus or a phrase in your textbook, they come in handy.
- Calculator – If you are taking a math class, you need a calculator. However, you need the RIGHT calculator. Be sure to check with your professor exactly which type of calculator is needed for the class and get the correct one.
- MLA Guide – This is a life saver! If you are majoring in English, or writing of any kind, you absolutely need this book. Anyone else taking a writing course needs this book. Don’t fail a paper for simple mistakes like not having your bibliography in the right style or using the wrong pronouns. Get the book. Thank me later.
- Index Cards – For centuries, index cards have been the premier studying staple. OK, maybe not centuries but you get the point. Nothing helps remember something like good ol’ flash cards made out of these bad boys. Anyone taking a foreign language can majorly benefit from making flash cards of phrases and terms.
- USB drives – Get a cheap USB. Just do it. You can back up your papers on a USB so if your computer dies, you still have a paper to turn in. Need to give a presentation in class? Throw your PowerPoint on a USB and easily present in just a few steps.
- Scantrons – The amount of people who walk into finals without scantrons surprises me every time. At the start of every semester, I head to the bookstore on campus and buy a few of these so I have them when I need them. They literally cost less than a quarter and when not having one can cause you to fail a class, it’s quite the investment. Just get some.
- Notebooks – A lot of students prefer to take notes on their laptop. Personally, I get too distracted by Reddit or Twitter so I need to use a real life notebook and a pen to take notes. Studies show that taking notes by hand, not on a computer, greatly increases the retention of the material. Study smarter and get a notebook.
- Pens/Pencils – I feel like this doesn’t need an explanation. This is college. Come prepared.
- Binders – Three of my books last semester were loose leaf books and I needed binders to keep them in. It can be annoying to spend $200 on a book and then need to buy a binder but that is how the world works. If you get the physical book, get a few binders just in case.
So that is your basic list of supplies. There are other things you might need like a printer, a computer, a bulletin board and others but these are the basics. Now the question is, where do you buy them all? The possibilities are pretty vast so we’ll cover a few of the big ones.
Target. The bulls-eye giant has a big school supplies section. They don’t have any specific section for college students but just about everything you would need is listed. If you hook up your checking account to the Target Red Card you can then use the Red Card like a debit card. That saves you 5% on everything you buy and gets you free standard shipping. Not bad. Best deals at Target right now? They’ve got Up & Up mechanical pencils, 8 count for $0.99. I bought these last semester and they’re great. Mead 70 page, wide ruled notebook or composition books are also $0.99. Stick with the Target Up & Up brand to save the most money. Not every item is sold online but you can order online and pick up in the store for almost everything.
Amazon. Obviously, I’m a big fan of Amazon. I’m more of a fan now that I saw they have a special section of school supplies for college students. That makes things a little easier. Post-It Flags are $1.99, Five Star notebooks start at $1.98, Highlighters are $0.81. There is even a 32 GB flashdrive for $11.99 with Prime shipping. Can’t beat that!
Wal-Mart. Always known for low prices, Wal-Mart naturally has great deals on school supplies. They don’t have a section for college students, which is a tad disappointment, but almost everything you need is listed. They’ve got index cards for $0.64, scientific calculators starting at $10.88, and a mini stapler for $2.51. They even have a cool backpack/supplies bundle for $28.88. You get a backpack filled with a pencil, pen, notebook, binder, loose leaf paper, folder and index cards. If you don’t have time to shop around you can grab that and be almost done with your shopping.
Staples. They also have a college section and naturally, they are really trying to sell you some computers or printers. But they have a large array of school supplies. They have a deal right now where if you buy a back pack, you get 25% off of your school supplies with a special code online. As with Target, the store brand here is going to save you money. Staples notebooks are $2.00, Staples sticky flags are $3.77, and they have a bag of 10 Bic pens for $1.00. They even have a cute little case to store your index cards for $1.00.
Office Depot. Last of the big box retailers is Office Depot. They also have a special section for college (Wal-Mart and Target need to get with the program here) with a wide array of items you’ll need. There is and 8GB flash drive for $9.99 which comes in various colors, Office Depot 3 subject notes for $4.49, and Planners that start at $12.99. They’re advertising over 1,000 items in the school supplies category for under $5.
Get out there and get shopping. Let us know in the comments what your best deal was on school supplies and where you found it.