Back to school season is here, and it’s time to start shopping for all the
things your kids are going to need for a successful year. Whether they’re
attending grade school or college, you want to know they have the top school
supplies of the season. Send them off to their first day back equipped with the
best in electronics, writing supplies, dorm accessories, and more. Here’s what
A Great Backpack: The Northface Jester
For middle school kids all the way to grad students, the number 1 school
essential is a backpack. Storage capacity, ergonomic design, and convenience
all have to meet to create a great
backpack. The Northface Jester is just such a backpack. It
has a carrying capacity of 1,830 cubic inches, two compartments with
organizational capabilities, molded shoulder straps, and a removable waist
The pack is 18.5 inches tall, which means it’ll hang large on smaller middle
school kids, but most teenagers should be able to wear this with no
problem, and it fits a wide variety of adult body-types. It also has
slightly less storage capacity than certain Jansport bags, but the
number of pockets and the foam back panel earn it top marks from reviewers.
On many sites, it gets at least 4 out of 5 stars from the majority
of reviewers, who love its durability and the number of colors the bag
comes in. Though the shoulder straps may feel stiff to some at first, overall
the pack is comfortable even when hauling a lot of heavy books. Plus, you can’t
beat a lifetime warranty.
A 2-in-1 Tablet: The ASUS Transformer Pad
Almost every college student needs a personal laptop or tablet, and many
high school students find them useful as well. Finding a portable personal
computer at a good price can be difficult, however. Though some
students will need laptops with specific purposes (such as the ability to run
graphic design programs), most students require the ability to do
word processing, access the internet, and read textbooks on a good quality
The ASUS Transformer Pad is an Android tablet with a detachable
keyboard. It has a 10.1-inch screen, which is on the smaller side but will work
fine for writing papers and reading textbooks. Intel power provides good
processing for a tablet of this size, and while it might be a little light on
memory (only 1 GB) it has a front and rear camera, Bluetooth wireless
capability, and a 1-year warranty.
The starting price is $299, but you can find it for cheaper with coupons and
sales. Reviewers like the durability, the keyboard, and the fast performance.
It’s not a good tablet for someone who needs extreme processing power, but it
has solid battery life, and many reviewers found using it very intuitive.
A Powerful Calculator: The TI-84 Plus
Graphing calculators don’t come cheap, but for students in geometry,
trigonometry, or calculus, they’re essential school supplies. Though college
students doing engineering will need a more powerful machine, the TI-84 Plus is
a great calculator for most students doing college or advanced high school
math. It has a USB port and is capable of connecting to computers and other
The TI-84 Plus comes with 480KB of memory, takes AAA batteries, and is
permitted for use during the SAT, the ACT, IB and AP tests, and the
Praxis. It’s good for Pre-Algebra through college math, and it works for
chemistry, biology, and physics classes. You can find a new TI-84 Plus for as
low as $99, with refurbished models selling for even lower. Buy one during
freshman or sophomore year of high school, and your student will be
set with a great calculator through college.
Reviews for the TI-84 Plus are overwhelmingly positive, with the average on
several sites sitting at 4.5 out of five stars or higher. Reviewers love how
easy to use it is, the great graphing functions, and its compatibility with
most math classes. Even teachers love it.
A Convenient Flash Drive: The SanDisk Extreme
For a USB device, the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 is a little on the
pricey side (the lowest price is $18), but most reviewers find the SanDisk
Extreme a very worthwhile purchase. Students often need to store papers
and projects on USB devices, both for the sake of backing up work and so they
can bring these digital files to class without lugging their laptops or tablets
around campus. The USB plug is retractable, so no damage will come to it, even
if it sits at the bottom of a backpack.
The device is available with 16, 32, or 64 GB of storage space, fits USB 3.0
ports, and reads files at 190 MBps. Basically, it works fast, and it
stores a lot of documents. Its 3.0 USB port means it fits in the latest tablets
with no problems whatsoever, but it’s also compatible with older USB ports.
Overall, reviewers find this USB device to be speedy and glitch-free.
Plus, many users like the sleek black design.
All-in-1 Supplies: Crayola’s Supply Packs
Elementary and middle school kids often need a lot of supplies, from
notebook paper to pens and pencils to crayons and glue sticks. School supply
lists for kids between 6 and 13 can be overwhelmingly long, and a trip to
the store to accumulate all this might take an hour or more. Crayola offers
supply packs for kindergartners, first and second graders, third through fifth
graders, and sixth through eighth graders.
Each pack contains essentials that kids in these grades typically
need for school, like composition books, markers, pencil sharpeners, and
erasers. They’re customized by age group, too. Kindergarteners have
colored paper, while middle school kids get hand sanitizer and portfolios. Each
kit costs less than $30.
Customer reviews for Crayola’s supply packs are overwhelmingly positive,
though several reviewers note a discrepancy in the number of crayons included
(16 instead of 24). As long as you make sure your kid will need everything in
the kit, you’ll significantly limit the amount of back to school
shopping you have to do.
Dorm Accessories: The 44 Piece College Dorm Essentials Set
Shopping for dorm stuff can be extremely fun, or extremely
stressful. For a new freshman in college, trying to predict what’s essential
and what isn’t gets overwhelming fast, especially considering how much advice
on this subject exists on the internet.
That’s why going for a set of supplies can take a lot of the stress out of
dorm room shopping. Cover all the bedding and bathroom basics with one
easy purchase that includes everything from bedding to a shower
caddy. You can find the 44-Piece College Dorm Essentials Set for as low as
$125, but you can customize most elements included in it. That sometimes means
a price increase, but you’re also getting to choose what’s most useful for your
Considering you could easily spend $50 on bedding alone (getting those
extra-long sheets and mattress covers can be a hassle!) this really
is a good deal. You also get under bed storage, laundry bags, bed risers,
These electronics, accessories, paper supplies, and art supplies are some of
the top buys of the 2015 back to school season. Whether your kid needs a
graphing calculator, a tablet, or an entire dorm room worth of stuff, this list
has you covered. Be sure your student has everything that’s necessary for a
successful first day and a successful school year.