While starting college might seem hard — moving away from home, being surrounded by new people, and being bombarded with an overload of change overall — being a college student can be easier if you listen to the right advice about what to bring with you. And if you’re talking about studying and completing coursework, the answer might involve the word tech.
This isn’t news to anyone: As the academic environment gets more digital every day and finds territory in platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Notion, electronic devices have become essential to keeping up in your classes.
Whether it’s to take notes in class, write out assignments, or organize course materials, gadgets like tablets, digital pens, and laptops have been proven over and over by college students to be great alternatives to your standard pen and paper. Versatile, convenient, and, most of all, lightweight, they can be great allies in both studying and free time.
But beyond the basics, other devices can be great allies to the college experience. Not only do they make life easier — hello, organization apps — but they can also be sources of more comfort in the sometimes-turbulent (and, let’s be honest, pretty tough) college lifestyle. Think headphones, chargers, and even organization boxes to make it all more manageable and less complicated. So, if you’re getting ready to head to campus, here are 12 tech items to pack with you for college.
If you only need to bring one piece of tech besides your cell phone — and maybe your laptop — this should be it. A portable charger will be handy when you need to charge your devices on-the-go, or bring one back to life when it runs out of battery. And trust me, this will happen a lot. No more fighting for the one seat by an outlet in the campus coffee shop!
Portable Charger, Anker, $24
Convenient to take notes during lectures and especially during research, a laptop is a college must-have because of its versatility. Whether you choose an Apple product or a PC, it can be both a source of entertainment and somewhere to write assignments, check out grades, access materials, and even organize your personal life.
MacBook Air 13.3”, Apple, $750
Lightweight, portable, and practical, a tablet is a cheaper alternative if you’re looking for something other than a laptop to take notes. Compatible with a tons of apps and the ability to work with videos, images, audio recordings, and more, an iPad or Galaxy Tab is a great option for those who are looking to have it all in one.
Galaxy Tab S8, Samsung, $700
Remember those aesthetic studying videos on TikTok? If you’re a tablet user, you might also recall the use of the stylus pen. Very useful for handwritten notes and drawings, it also allows more precision and comfort when interacting with touchscreen devices.
Stylus Pen GD13, GooJoDoq, $27
Can’t splurge on expensive gadgets like laptops or tablets to take notes in class, but still want to make them digital? Then buying a Bluetooth keyboard might just do the trick. Connect it to your cell phone and write down all the info on apps like Notion and Google Docs to make them more organized.
Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Ultra Slim Combo, TopMate, $35
A pair of headphones — or AirPods, or Beats, whichever you prefer — will be your best friend throughout college. To cancel the noise while pulling an all-nighter at the library or to just listen to the perfect playlist when going to class, they’ll be tuned in at least 50% of the time. Take my word for it.
Active Noise Canceling Headphones, ZIHNIC, $60
Whether the charger you brought from home doesn’t fit your new outlet or there’s a limited number of available sockets, a cable adapter is an essential piece of tech. Also, a brief shout out to extension cords and power strips! They can optimize the one outlet you have left by plugging a lot of different devices into one cable.
(Some colleges do prohibit extension cords on campus, so check your dorm handbook or other institution instructions beforehand to see if they’re allowed to come with you!)
Multi Charging Cable 3 Pack, Puxnoin, $13
Cable organizer box
Since I am recommending a lot of different gadgets, a tech list wouldn’t be complete without a cable management box (or even a pack of three). Its need is self-explanatory: With so many different devices (and the chargers they come with), you’ll want to store the cables compactly and with care. The fact that the box might help you avoid losing them is all the better.
Clear Cable Organizer Box, Suugly, $13
Laptop or iPad sleeve
If you’re bringing along either a laptop or iPad to school, a sleeve or case is important to add an extra cover of protection on your gadgets. It can also be a practical way to carry your items around and show off your unique sense of style.
Black Smiley iPad Pro Case, Casetify, $82
Bluetooth speakers are a must-have for college students — especially if you’re living on campus. Whether you want a chill soundtrack for your study sessions or you’d rather blast some early ‘00s party anthems while getting ready with friends, this device will come in handy with some good tunes wherever it’s needed.
Flip 5, JBL, $90
Space-saving and ergonomic, a laptop stand can adjust to your posture and personality, so that you can work on assignments with less strain on your neck, fingers, and back. Some even come with extra storage. Oh, and it also looks great on pretty much every workspace!
Adjustable Laptop Riser, Tonmom, $10
Sometimes cloud storage fails us… and that’s when flash drives show themselves as very useful tools. Because they’re small and lightweight, the drives are a cost-effective, portable way of managing all your documents and important files if your other devices fail you.
128GB Ultra Flair USB 3.0 Flash Drive, SanDisk, $13