13 College Must-Haves for Surviving Busy Days on Campus

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College must-haves are actually kind of a headache to come up with.

must-haves for college students, things every college student needs

Must-Haves for College Students

You can overthink it and have 50+ things that you want to bring to school every day, or on the other hand…

You might under prepare and find yourself wishing you had more things within arms reach.

And, really:

Either situation can cause unneeded stress and irritation. As a college student, you already have more than enough stress caused by other factors!


If you’ve read any articles offering college guidance, then you know that being the right amount prepared is a BIG part of college success.

Which is why putting a little thought into what you carry around with you is important. 


In today’s post, I condensed all my own college must-haves into a list!


Over time, I’ve found the PERFECT amount of things to always have with me. I wanted to share that knowledge with you so you can skip the whole trial and error process.

Or at least for the most part, as some things you or I like to have with us simply come down to subjective tastes. 

My College Must-Haves

Things every college student needs!

Or simply, handy stuff that helps me get through each term!

These necessary items include things besides basic school essentials (like pens, pencils, notebooks, etc.).

They are all things that I have found in my past, and current, college experience to be VERY useful to have on my person. 

Alright, let’s start with:  

1. Scantrons

Now, I do want to note that compared to universities, not many community colleges use Scantrons.


They are still a college must have, because when a class requires them you’re expected to have them at ALL times.

So make sure to double check your class syllabi and snag the right ones. 

2. Snacks

With back to back classes, having to talk to professors, and catching up on last-minute homework – pretty soon your stomach is going to remind you that: 

Hey! You need some FOOD. 

It’s just one of those “duh type of things that every college student needs.


Being smart about your snacks is less of a no-brainer.

It’s quick and easy to prepare the night before by throwing some protein bars or a banana in your college backpack. Yet, I still see so many fellow students buying food and drinks on campus!

Your school may have vending machines, school cafeteria, or a student store that sells food, but –

I’ve found these places to be OVERpriced!

Convenience always has a markup, and…

Buying food on campus every day (or even often) can add up quickly.

As broke college students, we should be doing everything we can to stretch our budgets.

So, IMO it’s best to avoid spending money for snacks on campus. I mean, haven’t they gotten enough money from you already with tuition & books??

They’ve certainly gotten enough out of me!

To avoid high-priced expenditures:

Bust out some snack prep with fresh fruits and veggies for the next couple of days! Your body and wallet will thank you. 

3. Hand Sanitizer

When I’m sitting in a closed room with 15+ students and all I can hear is coughing, sneezing, and sniffling my first instinct is to spray disinfectant on everyone and run.

Which unfortunately is frowned upon, and you can’t really do that…

The other option is hand sanitizer, a definite college must have. 

These are my favorite hand sanitizers! They smell great without being overpowering and still helps to keep those germs away. 

4. Oil Blotting Sheets

things every college student needs, College Must-Haves

If you’re LITERALLY running around campus – that face is going to be sweaty. 

And oily.

Which is why oil blotting sheets made my list of must-haves for college students.

Thankfully, they’re also pretty cheap.

5. Dry Shampoo

When school hits, especially during finals week, it hits hard.

It’s easy to get so busy that you don’t even have time to wash your hair – trust me I’ve been there.

Luckily there’s a solution – dry shampoo!

It’s crazy but, I actually didn’t discover dry shampoo until my 20’s 😫 and now I’m OBSESSED.  

I like to carry around a little travel sized one and leave my big bottle at home. 

6. Chapstick

All of the chapsticks!

I have one in every space I could possibly ever need it. In my purse, car, backpack, on my desk at home; you name a place – there’s a chapstick there! 

This is a college must-have for obvious reasons.

I mean, who enjoys dry, cracked lips? Certainly, not I. 

7. Tylenol/Advil

Anyone else suffer from stress headaches? 

This college must-have is such a life saver. Seriously.

Keep a small bottle in your backpack, as you never know when a headache will strike. 


Sharing is caring with these, and those fellow pain feelers will thank you for keeping it packed. 

TIP: The generic brands of Tylenol (aka Acetaminophen) and Advil (aka Ibuprofen) have always worked exactly the same for me, plus they’re way cheaper!

And by law, the store brand actually has to be the same in every way when it comes to over-the-counter drugs.

8. Water Bottle

must-haves for college students, things every college student needs

Having a water bottle will keep you drinking water like the hydrated goddess you are!

It’s just an all-around good habit to get into, but mostly it’ll save you from thirst on long class days.


Something cool that I’ve found in my college (in the new buildings) is that next to drinking fountains there are water bottle refill stations! 

They make it much easier to refill a water bottle, compared to trying to figure out the sweet spot angle at a drinking fountain. 

9. Travel Mug 

If you are a big tea or coffee drinker – these are a for sure college must-have!  

Even if you’re not:

Travel mugs are still great for keeping bone broth or soup warm when you’re on the go. 

10. Paper Clips

Paper clips are something that I didn’t really think about needing until I started college.


Paper clips are super helpful when you have multiple projects due and need to keep it all organized. 

I also like to use them as little reminders to mark projects that I haven’t quite finished.

11. Mini Stapler

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve SUPER needed a working stapler and I find one that’s either jammed, out of staples or just nowhere in sight!

Which is why a mini stapler is great to have.

And it’s also very inexpensive, I’m pretty sure I got mine at the dollar store.  

12. Planner or Bullet Journal

College Must-Haves, things every college student needs

I saved the best must-haves for college students for last! 

Having a planner has actually been pretty key to my college progress so far.

I was honestly SO unorganized before I had one. Like, you think you’ll just “remember” everything – but during college…

You can’t. Or at least, I couldn’t do it efficiently. 

Because there’s just SO MUCH to remember!

I use mine to keep track of due dates, classroom changes, work schedules, personal events, bills, paydays…the list is endless!


Get yourself a planner or bullet journal! If you actually put it to use, life can suddenly start to feel less overwhelming and a lot more manageable. 

13. A Nice Backpack 

No longer will little tote bags work!

Quality, functional backpacks are where it’s at for college students.

Unless – you don’t mind running to your car after every class. 🤷‍♀️  And I do mean running.

Colleges don’t have lockers, and most of your classes will be in separate buildings. Some can even be located alllll the way across campus from each other.

Having a laptop backpack for college that can hold it all (laptop included) is without a doubt in your best interest! 

college must-haves, things every college student needs

The college must-haves for freshman year all the way to senior year. 13 supplies I do NOT go without when I have a busy day on campus. #college #collegelife #student #essentials #backpack #musthave

Those are my own personal college must-haves!

These 13 items have helped me survive my busiest days on campus. I don’t even want to think about where I’d be in my college career right now without them.


Do you have any other recommendations for things every college student needs?

Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear what’s in your backpack!

What’s on your college must-haves list?

College must-haves that I always like to have with me when I\'m running around campus. These supplies kept in my backpack help take some of the stress out of college life. Click to see these 13 necessities for girls! #college #collegelife #student #essentials #backpack #musthave

I'm Jade, a full-time college student pursuing a degree in nuclear medicine down in southern Oregon. Fun Fact: I'm a makeup and unicorn enthusiast! I'm just trying to navigate this crazy thing we call life, while also being a full-time mom to a fur child and a fur-less child.

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