Prepping for classes is one of my absolute fave activities, in the history of – well – ever. When I was teaching, I had even more fun shopping for school supplies because I got to buy loads of stuff! Filling up a basket with notecards, the perfect pens, binders, and mechanical pencils is soooo much fun. Staying organized (and color-coded) is one way through which I fuel my studies. Getting ready for law school classes, especially as a 1L, can seem overwhelming. You have no clue what your professors expect, or even allow in class, until you get your hands on their class syllabus.
I’m here to tell you exactly what you need to bring with you to class, and what you should make sure to keep handy at your home desk/office area. Prepping for class is half the battle, really.
As an added bonus – I stock my desk ahead of time so that I don’t use shopping as an excuse to side-track my studies. Because honestly, who can concentrate on studying when the one highlighter you have is dying and you still have 30 pages of reading to do?
[Let’s not discuss why you would only have one highlighter. That’s not a happy thought.]
I am a firm believer in using various study tactics to improve your retention. School supplies will drastically improve your study habits and learning techniques. Though this list is not comprehensive, it does include every item I feel is absolutely essential to your success in law school. I’ve also made it easier to access these supplies, by including their Amazon links. Just click on an image, and you’ll arrive at the product’s page. 🙂
1. Backpack/Rolling Briefcase
I personally purchased this backpack and I LOVE it. I’m not a fan of the rolling luggage-type bags, and needed a bag with a laptop cushion. After scouring the nets, I found this little guy in a variety of colors! Enter the professional backpack – which I felt was adorable, and functional. I can fit 2 medium size casebooks (or 1 large Civ. Pro. text), a notepad, my 15″ Macbook pro, a pencil case, my clutch purse, and 2 bottles of water in this bad boy.
- After a year of use, it’s showing no serious signs of wear and tear, which is phenomenal considering how much weight it carries on the daily.
For those of you that have seen the Herschel bags, this one is an off-brand version. Call me crazy, but I just refused to pay $120 for a Herschel when I could pay $40 for an identical, and lesser-priced bag. #thrifty
2. Insulated Drink Bottle
(Or, a ridiculously cute one that could potentially sweat on your books, but looks awesome so you don’t care.)
My bestie gifted me a Corkcicle tumbler and it is fantastic! I can fill it with coffee before an 8am class, and it will stay hot hot hot for several hours! Equally impressive is that, if filled with ice, the beverage will stay ice cold for 6 or more hours! One of the best gifts ever. Truly. <3 Fill it up before class and don’t worry about not having enough hydration. My Corkcicle goes pretty much everywhere with me.
I personally own a MacBook, because it’s the only brand I’ve ever used (my first laptop was a gift), and I didn’t feel the need to switch over to a different operating system when my last Mac died last semester (right before midterms…)
But you should know that I have seriously considered purchasing a touch screen computer, or even the iPad Pro. I’ve learned that I enjoy taking notes in class, by hand, and wish I could test out a digital attempt. With the new handwriting apps, taking notes with a stylus or pen, on a digital medium seems like a no-brainer. But, those options can get pricey.
I recommend you figure out what kind of computer requirements your school has for testing procedures before you take the plunge into laptop commitment. Our campus requires specific software capabilities in order to run ExamSoft (program in which we take exams).
I’ve mentioned my love of planning before, and I’ve decided I need to explain how it’s done, but that will be for another post. Today, all you need to know is that a planner or calendar of some sort (digital or physical) is necessary in law school. You need to know what’s going on in class, when stuff is due, and when networking events will be. Get with the program and keep track of your responsibilities!
5. Pencil Bag
Everyone needs a reminder now and then, right?
I feel law school can get stuffy sometimes; you need a pick-me-up designed in the little things. For me, those moments come in the form of accessories. This pencil bag is more than $2, but totally worth it! After all, you’re a brilliant badass – studying law!
6. Highlighters, Pencils & Pens
If you are a visual learner, or someone who enjoys adding color to their world, then these are for YOU! I color-code my notes, as well as my case briefs. Everything has a color, so I know exactly what information I need to extract. I find this to be extremely helpful during class, when I may have lost my train of thought and a professor needs an answer from me ASAP.
Finding a highlighter was hard, but I think (aside from the standard yellow Bic version) these Sharpies are great! I would even recommend buying a large pack with 6 different colors, if you are going to really go wild. However, any more than that might just be overkill. The choice is yours though – buy them all if you want.
I stumbled across colored mechanical pencils (did you get that? colored. mechanical. pencils. Y’all. They’re real! I use mine to mark up my research papers, usually while trying not to snot-cry all over my professor’s desk, with edits and suggestions.
If you haven’t tried Staedtler pens – BUY THEM NOW! I’m left handed, and these are the best things ever. The pen dries quickly, almost like a marker. There’s very little left-hand-smudge syndrome as a result, which means my hand is virtually ink-free! ::woo::
7. Desk Lamp
The Beau gave me this lamp as a gift. It’s perfect because I can move it virtually any which way around my desk, and it comes with it’s own vice, allowing you to attach it to virtually any desk. Unlike a traditional lamp with shade, this little guy packs a punch of brightness, which you can angle exactly over your books/notes. Plus – he’s super cute, and reminds me of my Disney youth.
8. Lunch Box Set
I cannot stress how much you NEED this in your life. Our campus is downtown, which means it’s near oodles of scrumptious places to eat. Since my wallet simply cannot handle the prospect of scrounging enough cash for lunch five times a week, I opt to pack mine. I meal prep on Sundays, and prep 3 days worth of meals (breakfast + lunch). Making dinner in the evenings is relaxing for me, because I love mixing it up in the kitchen.
I just ordered this bag and container set for myself, and I am stoked about putting it to use! There’s 4 containers, which will allow for snacks and meals. AMAZING!
9. DropBox Account
Everyone needs an account. YOU need an account! There’s an amazing calm that comes with the ability to access your work from virtually anywhere with an internet connection. The auto-save feature is worth the three minutes of setup time. Once installed on your computer, creating documents and saving them is seamless. If you’re not already a DB fan, you will be.
10. FOCUS Notes
If I can take notes on a laptop in class, then I take advantage of my typing skills. However, I could not be successful in ::analog:: classes without these notepads. They’re set in a Cornell style and help create neater notes. You write the major topic or concept on the right side of the page, and then the explanation on the left side. Writing out concepts helps me, so I am a huge fan of these beauties.
There are other things I require, like coffee, coconut rum, and a gym membership. But, they’re not absolutely necessary for everyone. In your time at law school, you will figure out what works for you (and what doesn’t). Your entire body will be tested. There’s no exact way to be ready for it – you just have to experience it. This supply list should make starting out easier though. You’re going to have a great year. <3