The start of a new semester is always my favorite time of the school year. It’s time to make your shopping list, navigate the aisles of your local Staples or Target, and buy everything you need to reach your goals, stay organized, and get things done!

But one of the most stressful aspects of preparing for the semester is making sure you have the tools you need to keep up with your responsibilities. That’s why I’ve prepared a list of 5 must-have items that will help you stay on top of things throughout the semester.

*The following recommendations are entirely my own. This post does not contain any affiliate links.

1. A Planner

First – and possibly most important – is a planner. I would not last a single day without one! Keeping track of your assignments, appointments, and obligations is much easier when you have a place to write them all down. I always find that writing things down helps me clear my head and keep stress at bay. A planner is a valuable tool because it helps keep you organized and allows you to track your progress throughout the week. There are plenty of options out there. From bullet journals to Life Planners, there is bound to be something that works for you!

I use an Erin Condren Life Planner, and I swear by it! In future posts I will tell you exactly why, but for now I will say that I understand the Life Planner is out of many students’ price range. My Life Planner cost about $45.00, and while it is most definitely worth it, there are plenty of more affordable options out there.

 

5 Must-Haves for an Organized Semester

Lily Pulitzer Planner – $15.00, The Paper Store

This planner is adorable on so many levels! Lily Pulitzer is probably the Life Planner’s biggest competition, and the prints are fun and bright. Several of my friends own this planner, and I’ve heard nothing but great reviews!

Blue Sky Orchid Planner – $9.99, Target

Before I bought a life planner, I always bought my planners at Target. They carry tons of unique, simple designs, which makes it easy to find something that matches your style. Aside from the cute factor, you can’t beat a nice, big planner for such a low price! This one is 8.5 x 11,” a full letter-sized sheet.

2. Good Writing Utensils

The second must-have for any college student is pens. By purchasing lots of pens, markers, pencils, and highlighters, you’ll be setting yourself up for success from the very start. The worst thing you can do in college is arrive to your classes unprepared. I recommend buying a pencil case and filling it with all of your favorite tools!

PaperMate InkJoy 300RT – $4.49, Amazon 

These are great because they come in tons of different colors, and they’re super cheap. They write smoothly and never bleed through the paper the way that gel pens often do. They’re perfect for color-coding your notes, and they have relatively fine tips, which makes squeezing notes into your margins just a bit easier.

Uni-Ball 2017 Retractable Gel Pens – $11.98, Amazon

These pens are amazing! They’re ridiculously cheap – less than $1.00 per pen – and they write super smoothly. A nice, smooth gel pen that glides easily across the page is a total must-have, and these are even quick-drying, which means you won’t smudge the ink across your notes while you’re scribbling things down in class.

3. Stationery

If you want to stay organized, you have to write things down. I know what you’re thinking: if I have a planner, why do I need extra stationery to write on? Well, I find it helpful to have some smaller stationery that you can grab when you need it, including to-do lists, plain sheets of paper, and post-it notes.

Threshold To-Do List Pad – $4.99, Target

I don’t know where I’d be without to-do lists. I find it extremely helpful to be able to check things off as I go. Sometimes, I feel the need to make a list that I don’t want to add to my planner, like a packing list or a quick list of chores to do for the day. It’s also nice to tack them to my bulletin board and have a visual representation of things I need to do.

 

Post-It Notes 6-Pack – $10.04, Amazon

Post-It Notes are a classic organizational tool. They’re perfect for everything from to-do lists to simple reminders. You can stick them almost anywhere – in your planner, on the wall, or even just on your desk if you want to have a reminder right in front of you.

4. A Desk Organizer

In order to have a truly organized and productive semester, your backpack isn’t the only thing that should be neat and tidy! Your desk is your home base; you should have some sort of organizational tool that helps you keep your class syllabus, your important paperwork, and all those flyers you collect on campus.

Smoke Like-It Desktop Organizer – $24.99, The Container Store

This is the desktop organizer that I use while I’m away at school.  In college, your best option is a desktop organizer that will hold some file folders, writing utensils, and other office supplies such as a stapler, scissors, and paper clips. This one is perfect, and it comes at a relatively affordable price.

 

Linus 4-Section Drawer Organizer – $11.99, The Container Store

Drawer organizers are yet another valuable tool that you can use to keep all your school supplies in their place. It’s much easier to focus when you have a clean workspace. With the help of a drawer organizer, everything will be safely tucked away until you need it, and you won’t waste time sifting through all your drawers looking for your staple remover.

5. Notebooks

Last but not least – notebooks! It may seem like a no-brainer, but notebooks are possibly the most essential resource for college students. I know many people love taking notes on their laptops or iPads, but I find that handwritten notes help me the most. And I’m certainly not alone – there are plenty of scientific studies regarding writing your notes down. It’s the best way to ensure that what you’re learning really sticks in your head. I recommend college-ruled notebooks, because the pages have more lines, giving you more space to write.

Five Star 3-Subject Notebook – $4.29, Target

Juggling notebooks for five different classes each semester can turn out to be a pain. That’s why I like to consolidate a bit by grouping my class notes together in a 3-subject notebook. This way, it’s easier to study for finals because you only have one notebook to cart back and forth to the library or your dorm room to study!

 

Mead College Ruled Notebook – $0.79, Target

If you opt for single notebooks, it’s always fun to choose an upbeat or bright print! I like to choose different colors for each class and decorate the front covers. Spiral notebooks are usually really cheap, so there’s nothing stopping you from customizing your coursework with fun colors and patterns.

And that rounds out my 5 must-haves for an organized semester. Just remember: staying organized doesn’t have to be boring. The best aspect of all the products above are that they come in multiple colors and are entirely customizable to your preferences.

I hope that this was helpful and that you’ll use these recommendations to make informed decisions about your organization on campus! Leave a comment below to let me know what you think, or to share any of your favorite organizational tools.

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