13 Ridiculously Useful College Must Haves for Class

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College must haves (aka the stuff I’d go insane without)

desk with laptop & must haves in college

There are lots and lots of things you need for college – it’s almost an overwhelming amount of stuff! And, most of it you won’t even need everyday.


What are the daily must haves for college students? What are the bare minimum essentials for staying sane on days when you’re running all over campus?

On one hand:

You can overthink it and have 50+ things that you want to bring to school every day. I can tell you right now that your back and shoulders are not going to like that.

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, I know that I already have my fair share of stress to deal with and I don’t need anything adding to it.

Being the right amount prepared is a BIG part of college success, which is why putting a little thought into what you bring with you to school has its value.


In today’s post, I’m sharing with you my own must haves for college classes.


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 over the whole trial and error process.

Or at least for the most part!

College must haves are subjective as some things you or I like to have with us simply come down to personal tastes.

My Must Haves for College

This is the stuff that I seriously can’t go without when I’m spending the day on campus. It’s all handy stuff that helps me get through each term!

Note that:

These necessities 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

Official Scantron Brand 882-E Answer Sheet. (25 Pack) View on Amazon

I do want to point out that compared to universities, not many community colleges use Scantrons.


They’re still a must have for college, because when a class requires them you’re expected to have them at ALL times. A test can strike at any time!


Make sure to double check your class syllabi so you can have the right ones at the ready.

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 one of those “duh type of things that can easily go by the wayside when things get busy. Plus, making healthy snack choices becomes less of a priority when you’re hungry and you need food like right now.

The solution:

By throwing some protein bars or a banana in your backpack the night before you can easily prepare for when hunger strikes.

Yet, I still see so many fellow students buying food and drinks on campus!

Colleges may have vending machines, the school cafeteria, or a student store that sells food, but – I’ve found that these places are OVERpriced.

Convenience always has a markup. 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, in my opinion:

It’s best to avoid buying snacks on campus.

I mean, haven’t they already gotten enough money out of you 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

Touchland Power Mist Hydrating Hand Sanitizer Spray, JUICY 3-PACK (Watermelon, Peach, Berry), 500-Sprays each, 1FL OZ (Set of 3) View on Amazon

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 must have for college students like me.

These are my favorite hand sanitizers. They keep those germs away without having an overpowering smell.

4. Oil Blotting Sheets

boscia Clear Complexion Blotting Linens - Vegan, Cruelty-Free, Natural Skin Care - Oil Blotting Sheets for Face - For Combination to Oily Skin Types - Travel Size - 100 Sheets View on Amazon

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 college must haves.

This isn’t just an item only girls can benefit from, guys can have oily prone skin too! Those sheets are a godsend for anyone who wants to keep their skin happy and fresh.


5. Dry Shampoo

Not Your Mother's Dry Shampoo Assortment (3-Pack) - 7 oz - Clean Freak Dry Shampoo, Plump for Joy Dry Shampoo, Beach Babe Dry Shampoo - Instantly Absorbs Oil in Hair View on Amazon

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 simple work around – 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

Make sure to add good ‘ol chapstick to your list of college freshman must haves. Because if you forget it, this is something you’ll definitely miss.


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 probably a chapstick there!

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


7. Tylenol/Advil

Advil - 10 Coated Tablets View on Amazon

Anyone else suffer from stress headaches?

This college must have is such a lifesaver. Seriously.

I advise keeping a small bottle in your backpack, as you never know when a headache will come on.


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.

By law, the store brand actually has to be the same in every way when it comes to over-the-counter drugs. So you’re really not missing anything by going with generic in this case.

8. Water Bottle

Hydro Flask 32 oz Wide Mouth with Flex Cap Stainless Steel Reusable Water Bottle Dew - Vacuum Insulated, Dishwasher Safe, BPA-Free, Non-Toxic View on Amazon

Having a water bottle (I personally adore Hydro Flasks cause they last FOREVER) 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. You know, compared to trying to figure out the sweet spot angle at a drinking fountain.


9. Travel Mug

Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumbler with Lid and Straw for Water, Iced Tea or Coffee, Smoothie and More, Citron, 30 oz View on Amazon

A travel mug is on my list of must haves for college because I’m a big coffee and tea drinker.

Even if you’re not:

Travel mugs are still great for keeping bone broth or soup warm when you’re on the go. It’s not a bad idea to invest in one before winter hits.

10. Paper Clips

Paper Clips Binder Clips, Colored Office Clips Set - Assorted Sizes Paperclips Paper Clamps Rubber Bands for Office and School Supplies, Document Organizing View on Amazon

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


They 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.

The nice thing is that:

It’s also very inexpensive, I’m pretty sure I got mine at the dollar store or Walmart for cheap.

12. Planner or Bullet Journal

2024 Planner - Planner 2024 Weekly and Monthly with Calendar Stickers, Jan 2024 - Dec 2024, 5.75" X 8.25", 2024 Calendar Planner with Premium Thicker Paper, Pen Holder, Inner Pocket and 44 N... View on Amazon

I saved the best college freshman must haves 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 of uses 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

Vera Bradley Women's Cotton Campus Backpack, Bees Navy - Recycled Cotton, One Size View on Amazon

Backpacks are an obvious must have for college students, but don’t go with just any backpack.

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

Wrapping up college student must haves…

Those are all my personal must haves items for college.

You can bet your ass that they’re packed and ready to go for my next class. This stuff helps me survive not just my day to day college life, but also my craziest days on campus.

I don’t even want to think about where I’d be in my college career right now without them.


Everyone’s a little different. So I’m curious – what are YOUR college must haves for school?

Leave a comment to help a fellow student out!


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13 Must Haves for College Students

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  1. My #1 must-have was definitely a good backpack. In fact, my backpack from high school was such a good, reliable brand that it lasted me all the way through college and then some. I still have it to this day!

    1. Wow Angela, that’s amazing! The value of a good backpack cannot be overstated. It’s a must-have for life, and a reliable one is truly a gift that keeps on giving. Now I’m really curious about which brand your backpack is!