As both a former high school student and a former high school teacher, I know that there are certain materials that high school students need to help make their days in secondary education a success. Some students and parents overlook these materials, and from personal experience, I can say that students that come into class completely empty-handed, and therefore unprepared, waste time. It wastes time for that student, the teacher and the other students as well. Time spent trying to locate enough extra materials for students could be time spent educating the students, and so I present to you a list of the Top 10 Essential Back-to-School Supplies for High School Students.
1. Pencils or even pens: I would advise on having both with you, just in case. Some classes, such as math, advise you to use pencils for obvious reasons. You have the option of using an eraser to quickly eliminate any mistakes made. As for pens, some schools may even ban their usage. If not, and you’re allowed, pens can be a decent substitute. In the English classes I taught, many of my students, particularly my senior writers, preferred the use of pens as they felt they flowed more easily across the paper. I had no problems with this. If you do choose pencils, however, you can choose from two basic options. The regular kind make of wood, and the mechanical kind. There are pros and cons of both. The wooden pencils can break easily, which means the student has to stop working and sharpen it. The mechanical pencil’s lead can break too, but with the click of the top, new lead comes out. The problem here is sometimes students don’t keep extra lead, so they run out and don’t have more.
2. Paper: Obviously paper is something you’ll need, especially lined, whether it be for essays, class notes, homework, graphs, other assignments, or even secret notes to your friends (though as a former teacher I wouldn’t advise it). Two options for lined paper are in spiral notebooks and loose-leaf paper that can be placed into folders and binders.
3. Binder/folder: You WILL need binders and/or other types of folders. You will. You will. You will. Your teacher will hand out class notes or other documents to reference and you will need a place to store them and keep them organized. You will also need a place to store assignments as you’re working on them so that they don’t get lost before you can turn them in. How many will you need? That’s up to you. I would advise having one binder/folder per subject, but your teacher or school may give you specific instructions on what to get and how many.
4. Backpack: Lockers are nice if you have the privilege of using them, but you still need something to heft those heavy books around! Totes can work too, but if you find that you do really have a heavy load in textbooks, notebooks, etc., you’re going to want a backpack so you can evenly distribute the weight onto both shoulders. Padded straps for comfort are a bonus.
5. Coloring Utensils: Markers, coloring pencils, etc.: These were not a requirement in my English classes, but there were times in which my students found them handy in completing projects that included illustrations. Many of these same students used some of these materials weekly in other classes, such as science, social studies and math. I find that coloring pencils work best because of their neatness and ability to detail illustrations, but sometimes markers are best for larger sketches and illustrations, such as on poster board.
6. Protractor/Ruler: Actually, a protractor may do double duty as it has measuring units along its straight edge, so a protractor alone is probably sufficient. This will be used in math classes, particularly geometry, and sometimes in science classes. While it’s true that most math classrooms have their own sets of protractors (and rulers) that students can use, students may not be able to take them home in order to complete homework assignments.
7. Calculator: A standard inexpensive calculator is always useful to have around, but for high school math (and science) classes, at more high-tech version may be even more useful, especially for physics class. I would advise talking to other students a few grades ahead of you, or even contacting the school, to find out what they specifically advise for their classes, or even what’s allowed.
8. Scissors: Scissors tend to evoke images of construction paper characters in elementary school, but they can also be very useful in high school for projects that may require, well, cutting.
9. Correctional Fluid: This is necessary if you use a pen for term papers and other formal assignments. For informal assignments, you may have a teacher that doesn’t mind mark-outs and scribbles to cover mistakes, but for neatness purposes, correctional fluid is necessary.
10. Highlighter: The highlighter is what I would consider an underrated school supply. The highlight is great for note-taking, tests, textbooks, etc. because it allows you to highlight any information t hat may be important. I understand just as much as anyone else that black and white text can become blurry when you look at it at extended periods of time, and so if you’re trying to relocate an important piece of information, it’s inconvenient to spend a long time trying to search for it repeatedly. You need a way to “mark” it. Highlighters are excellent for this.
Some extras that you may find useful, but maybe not necessary: glue, stapler, staples, paper clips, tape.