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10 Things You Need to Help You Have a Great Semester

It’s that time again! Back to school season has always been one of my favorite seasons. Even though I’m no longer a student, I’ll never forget the joyful, refreshing feeling of a clean slate at the beginning of a new school year. 

One of the activities I always looked forward to most before heading back to school was shopping for school supplies. There’s no greater feeling than picking up some new supplies and accessories to help you start the semester feeling confident, prepared, and ready to dive into your classes. 

Through my own college experience, I found that these items helped me have a great and successful semester. Whether you’re attending class in-person on campus, taking online classes from home, or a mix of both, these are the 10 items you need to help you have a great semester. 

10 Things You Need to Help You Have a Great Semester

Planner (Paper or Electronic) 

Although purchasing a planner may seem like common sense, I can’t recommend getting a planner enough, especially to new college students.

It doesn’t matter if you prefer paper or digital, as long as you have a centralized location to help you stay organized. When you receive syllabi for your classes at the beginning of the semester, write down all of the assignment due dates, exam dates, and other noteworthy information in your planner right away. 

Paper planner recommendations from the GenTwenty team:

Digital planner recommendations: 

Reusable Water Bottle

It’s no secret that staying hydrated and drinking water is good for your health. The easiest way to ensure you’ll stay hydrated is to carry a reusable water bottle with you, especially if you’re attending classes on campus. 

Water bottle recommendations from the GenTwenty team:


A reliable pair of headphones is a must! For days spent in the library, walks between classes, or times when you need to crank out your assignments at home with no distractions, a pair of headphones are a necessity to keep nearby. 

A couple of the most popular headphone recommendations:

Laptop Case (& Laptop)

When I was preparing for college, I always heard that I needed to invest in a nice laptop, but nobody ever talked about purchasing a laptop case.

It’s the underdog of items that rarely gets mentioned, but I highly recommend investing in a protective laptop case of some sort. Whether it’s a hardcover case or a sleeve to carry your laptop in, you’ll never regret taking care of your laptop to ensure it lasts through all of your college years. 

A few of my favorites from Amazon: 

USB Flash Drive 

Set yourself up for success and pick up a USB flash drive or two! I used a USB flash drive to organize all of my electronic reading assignments and other PDF documents by class so that they were easy to locate and accessible on devices other than my laptop when I needed them. My USB flash drive also came in handy when I needed to print at the library, but couldn’t get my laptop to connect to the library’s printer.

A couple of my favorites from Amazon:

Stationery Sets 

Calling all notebook, colored pens, and Post-it Notes enthusiasts! A new semester is a perfect time to stock up on stationery sets. Be sure to snag paper clips, highlighters, push pins, and all of the other handy stationery items you may need. You can never have enough notebooks or Post-It Notes to write down your latest and greatest ideas. 

Stationery recommendations from the GenTwenty team:

Favorite Coffee Cup or Mug

Whether you’re obsessed with coffee, or not much of a fan and prefer tea instead, you need a favorite coffee cup for your desk or a travel mug if you’ll be spending time on the go. If you’re not a coffee or tea drinker, snag a mug and use it as a desk accessory to hold your pens and pencils. 

Coffee cup and mug recommendations from the GenTwenty team:

A Portable Charger

I bought a portable charger for the first time when I was a college student and haven’t looked back since. This is the perfect item to keep in your backpack or purse (with an extra charging cord). 

A couple of my favorites from Amazon: 

Alarm Clock

Over the years, many of us have started using our cell phones as alarm clocks. Although this functionality is convenient, I always recommend purchasing a real alarm clock to those who are starting college. If you’re living on campus, you may not know what your dorm setup will accommodate until you get there. Having a separate alarm clock will also give you a backup if something happens to your phone.

A few recommendations from Amazon:

Even if you’re not living in a dorm and know you have an outlet near your bed, it can be helpful to have an alarm clock near your bed so that you can charge your phone elsewhere and not need to sleep with it nearby. 

Subscription to Your Favorite Music Streaming Service (Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora)

Last but certainly not least, I highly recommend leaving room in your budget for a subscription to your favorite music streaming service. Whether you love podcasts or playlists, having something to listen to on days when you need to focus will come in handy. 

  • Spotify Premium Student is $4.99/month 
  • Pandora Premium Student is $4.99/month 
  • Apple Music offers a discounted rate to students for up to 48 months

Let us know if you snag any of the items on our list and how you like them. On behalf of the GenTwenty team, have a great semester!

About the Author

Alyssa Towns (Swantkoski)

Alyssa graduated from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. Early in her career, her interests shifted, and she works in communications and change management. She lives in Denver with her husband, and they love going on adventures together. She lives for summers in Colorado and enjoys hiking and stand up paddleboarding. She also enjoys collecting plants and stationery sets, reading self-help books, and is obsessed with the Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel. No matter where her career path leads her, writing, and sharing her experiences to help others will always be a part of her plans.