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Back to school season can feel like the ultimate letdown after summer. But at least you get to shop for school supplies and that can smell like new pencils and fresh academic potential.
But what are the best school supplies to buy in 2021? Well, good news. In this post, I’m sharing all my favorites.
While I’m no longer in college, as a history and literature YouTuber I probably do more academic research and writing now than I ever had to do while majoring in English. And these are all my favorite study supplies that I rely on every day. And I hope they’ll help you through your studies too.
Table of Contents
- Rocketbook Fusion | Smart Reusable Notebook
- Colorful Page Flags | A Researcher’s Best Friends
- Zebra Midliners | Highlighters But Prettier
- Frixion Gel Pens | Erasable Ink
- Sofia + Sam | Lap Desk
- AbeBooks | Used Textbooks and Novels
- Grammarly | Spellcheck but Better
- MindNode | Visual Paper Outlining
- Trello | Project Management Made Visual
The Best Notebook Ever
I never before imagined falling in love with a notebook. But sometimes, you meet the right reusable spiral-bound partner, and everything clicks. And that is what it was like for me and the Rocketbook Fusion.
How Rocketbooks Work
So Rocketbooks are reusable notebooks. First, you write on their slightly plastic feeling pages with Pilot’s Frixion reusable pen line. Then you snap a picture of your page of notes with the Rocketbook app.
The app will save your notes to your designated cloud services (iCloud, Dropbox, email, etc) and transcribe them into searchable text at the same time.
Finally, simply dampen the included microfiber cloth and wipe down the notebook page. And done, your reusable notebook is clean and ready to be filled with new notes.
Rocketbook Fusion Review
The Rocketbook I regularly use is their “Fusion” model that includes calendar, dot-grid and lined pages. It really is a mixture of everything and I really enjoy having so many options available in one notebook.
Rocketbook’s pages have a slightly plastic feel when writing on them, but it’s the closest “smart” solution to the experience of writing on paper. Which, I’ve discovered really helps me concentrate and connect to my work more than trying to take notes on my iPad.
My favorite part of the Rockebook Fusion is how many sheets of paper it saves. I use mine every day while researching and planning out videos for my YouTube channel. So normally, I’d be going through 5-7 sheets of paper that would end up in the trash or taking up room on my shelves. Instead, I’m able to use the app to save any important notes to the cloud and am able to simply wipe away any I don’t need in the long term.
Also, I love that it pairs with the whole range of Pilot’s Frixion pen line because I love writing in color. Which, yes, may be a leftover from when I was in 4th grade and gel pens were all the rage. But still, the colorful Frixion gel pen + Rocketbook combo is epic.
Keep Track of the Important Stuff
Things I wish I knew about in college: fashion, cooking, and page flags. My life would have been transformed with those three things.
Seriously though, page flags are tiny sticky pieces of amazingness and are one of my favorite study supplies. Basically, they function like a sticky note/bookmark hybrid.
So while reading a book you know you’re going to have to write an essay about, you can simply use page flags to mark important passages you’ll want to use later. Or while doing research, you can mark the paragraphs with the most relevant information. And they come in pretty colors. So they’re just great all around.
Because Studying Should Be Pretty
Zebra Midliners are highlighters but in prettier, less obnoxious colors. They also pair well together. So, for example, I will often choose two or three as a “color palette” while studying a book to keep things… well.. pretty.
Erase All The Mistakes
Wouldn’t it be great to write in pen but be able to erase it like a pencil? Well, you can, with Pilot’s Frixion line.
I already touched on these pens a little bit earlier while talking about the Rocketbook. But these pens also work on everyday paper. And they do erase remarkably well (better even than many pencils). And they come in different styles (ball, gel, etc) and colors (yay for color!).
Perfect for Typing, Writing, Drawing
I used to have an old pink lap desk that was made of cheap plastic and then broke in half. Then I tried to go without one for a while, which resulted in a lot of frustration and a mild burn on my thighs from my laptop heating up.
Needless to say, I was so happy when I finally invested in a new lap desk from Sofia+Sam this is really high quality, stylish, and prevents thigh burns.
Buy Books Cheaper
Required textbooks and novels are always an expensive part of college. And also, an expensive part of life if you’re like me and buy books all the time. Thankfully, there is AbeBooks which is a used book marketplace where you can buy lightly used books at great prices. I feel like I must be one of their most frequent customers because I’m almost always waiting for a book in the mail.
Get Feedback on Your Writing
If you haven’t heard of Grammarly before, basically it’s advanced spellcheck. On its free plan, it will check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. And on its paid plan it will analyze your fluency, word choice and even check your paper for plagiarism.
I’ve used and loved both the free and paid plans of Grammarly. Admittedly, sometimes its suggestions are a little off (or a little too stringent). But as far as an A.I. writing tutor goes, it’s the best.
The Best Way to Outline
In college, I had this professor who was obsessed with mind mapping software. And while I don’t really remember much of what the class was supposed to be about, learning how to use mind maps to outline papers, projects, and my YouTube videos has proven a valuable life skill.
Basically, mind maps are outlines that let you visually organize your ideas. And the ability to drag and drop main points and supporting evidence makes outlining research papers a million times easier than opening up Word and starting off with roman numerals.
My favorite mind mapping software for Mac is an app called MindNode. Which, again, has pretty themes to choose from too.
Meet Deadlines and Plan Ahead
Trello is a project management software this is *free* and helps you plan what you need to get done visually. It makes keeping track of projects, deadlines, and to-dos easy.
I personally use it for everything from content planning to mapping out my week. It’s so much better than a paper and pencil week planner (at least in my opinion).