It’s officially school supply season, according to the back to school aisles at Walmart and Target and Office Max and every other store in the world, it seems. School supply shopping can be super overwhelming, but it can also be exciting.

It’s fun to pick out which color notebook you want for which class and stock up on your favorite pencils and choose the cutest folder with the cutest puppy on it. When you go to college, school supply shopping can be really confusing. Teachers aren’t going to tell you what you need because frankly, they don’t care. Other than your textbooks and your brain, they don’t care what else you bring to class.

School supply shopping is all about knowing yourself and your study and note-taking habits, but for your first semester, you might need some guidance. That’s why I’m here. I’ve been down the path eight times, eight semesters worth of college school supplies, and I’ve learned a thing or two that I’m going to share to you.

Here are five school supplies you may have loved in high school but don’t need in college.

1) Binders

I loved setting up my binders in high school for each class, but that was when I could go to my locker between each class and actually had enough paper to fill a binder and more for each class. In college, you’re going to be mostly digital. You really don’t want to lug around a ton of binders when you’re running from class to class and then a meeting and dinner with no time to drop by your room. If you find that you’re handling a lot of printed readings piling up, you can consider one big binder to keep in your room for reference, but you don’t need a binder for every class like you did in high school.

2) A graphing calculator

There was no way to get through high school math classes without a graphing calculator. Those things can be expensive too. In college, they aren’t super necessary. If, and that’s a big if, you have to take a quantitative-based course in college, you’ll probably be in statistics, where a graphing calculator can’t help you. Unless you’re doing a repeat of high school calculus in college, you probably don’t need to splurge on the graphing calculator. If you still have yours from high school, consider selling it, at a discount, to one of the kids who will need it in your community. 

3) Loose leaf paper

In high school, I stocked up on loose leaf paper because that’s how I took notes, on loose leaf paper. Then, I put into my binder. In college, almost everything’s digital. Having loose leaf paper was a hassle because the corners would get torn up in a folder or simply lost completely. If you want to have real paper, consider something bound to help keep things organized.

4) Five subject notebooks

My first few semesters of college I thought I had hacked the system by purchasing one big five subject notebook and dedicating one section to each class. Then, I realized that I wasn’t using up even half of each section with my notes or musings for each class. Plus, I had to lug that huge notebook around wherever I went and it got beat up. Five subject notebooks can seem fun and smart, but they can be more trouble than they’re worth. If you do genuinely want to use notebooks, then focus on one subject notebooks. That way you don’t have to take all five subjects with you on the days you only have a single class. If you lose it, it’s not an entire semester’s worth of notes gone. 

5) A printer

Those “college packing lists” on the web always list a printer, printer ink, and paper on their must have lists, but they need to catch up with the times. Like I’ve enumerated multiple times, most things are digital now. You’re rarely going to be printing things. When you do need to use a printer, they will be readily available on your campus for a small fee. My college charged ten cents a page, twelve cents if it was double-sided.  If you buy a printer and use it frequently, it may be worth it for you, but if you don’t, you just invested in a printer you’ll have to move from year to year, ink cartridges you’ll likely struggle to replace easily or cheaply, et cetera. I recommend waiting a semester or so before deciding if investing in a printer is the right thing for you.

RELATED READ: 5 School Supplies You DO Need In College

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member