Back-to-School Necessities for the Graduate Student
Library card. If you’re on campus, most of the time your student ID serves as your library card. Ask the librarians about borrowing privileges at other libraries on campus, where the other libraries are, and the interlibrary loan (ILL) policies. If you’ve been out of school for a while, libraries have changed – a lot. They are hubs of technology and information, and a great place to start your research, study for an exam, or meet with colleagues. If you’re off campus, find the closest library to you and get a card! It’s also worth inquiring at a local college/university whether non-students are able to purchase a library card for borrowing privileges.
Bag. Whether you choose a nondescript messenger bag, traditional backpack, pricey leather tote, or eco-friendly canvas tote, a bag to hold the necessities is important. Make sure it’s comfortable, especially when it’s filled to the brim. It should be able to hold your laptop, some books, notebooks, phone, a snack or two, and a water bottle. Keep in mind any other necessities you might need during a study session or on a busy day and choose your bag accordingly!
Planner. While some people like having a digital planner in their phone or tablet, I’m a big paper planner. Not only do you get that sense of satisfaction each time you cross off something on your list, but you can simply open up your planner and look at the day or week ahead of you, even if you don’t have a WiFi connection. Seeing your obligations laid out in front of you forces you to be organized and accountable. If you have a job or family obligations, it will be especially important to stay on top of things. A planner is great for keeping school and non-school events and tasks at your fingertips. (You might also want to check out our blog post on how keeping an academic Bullet Journal can help you with dissertation/thesis work).
Pens/Pencils/Highlighters. You’ll be doing a lot of reading. Underlining or highlighting is crucial in emphasizing the most important material. Writing notes in the margins can help you remember a spontaneous thought that comes to mind or a concept you will need to come back to later.
Folders/file folders. Keep your research organized in color-coded folders or a pleated file folder! This way you won’t be rummaging through a pile of loose papers or packets that are on your desk, looking for the article you need right now before a meeting with your Chair.
Flash drive. Where else are you going to keep the latest draft of your thesis or dissertation and the numerous research articles you have downloaded?
Sticky notes/tabs. Perfect for adding to your planner or calendar when you’ve forgotten something, or flagging pages in a book to come back to later. Why not pick some fun colors while you’re at it?
Binder clips/paper clips/mini stapler. If you're doing research, you may be printing out article after article (not to mention printing out drafts of your own work to edit and revise). Keeping lots of clips or a mini stapler nearby can help keep everything together.
What is on your list of must-haves?
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