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Supplies Needed for a College Writing Class

Do you remember those nice lists your elementary school teachers would give you so you knew what school supplies to buy each year? They don’t make those for college students. Yet, there are some supplies you will need for your college-level writing class that you might not think of yourself (and, of course, a few that you would think of on your own).

  • 2 flashdrives of at least 4 GB

Why 2 flashdrives? Well, as a teacher, I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it has been when I’ve had students work on several drafts of a paper only to have their flashdrive lost or stolen just before the final paper is due. (True stories!) Naturally, as a teacher, I give the student some extra time to get the paper done, but it is frustrating for the student to have lost all the time and work that went into making the perfect draft. (By the way, the word “perfect” is used loosely here. There really is no such thing as a perfect draft.)

Keep your work on two flashdrives. Use one as the working flashdrive. It goes wherever you go. Use the other as the backup drive. Save all of your work to the backup drive at least once a week. Then if the unthinkable happens, you don’t have to start over to recreate your work.

  • a fanning portfolio-type folder

Most writing teachers will ask you to print out drafts periodically. Save all of these drafts! Put all of the drafts for one assignment in one of the portfolio compartments. Every now and again, you might decide you need an idea from a previous draft, or you need to see the comments your teacher or one of your classmates wrote on a draft. With a portfolio-type folder, none of your work is ever truly gone, and, better yet, it is easy to find it again.

  • pens (black plus one other color)

Black is the standard color for most work, especially if your teacher makes you write in-class essays. However, when you are writing on your drafts, it is usually easier to see comments and changes when they are made in another color. I like subtle colors like blue and green myself, but you could use any color you like. I tend to avoid red pens because most people have had negative experiences with red pens and their writing. (For example, “AHHH! My teacher bleed all over my paper.”)

  • pencils

Some of your classmates may prefer that you write on their drafts in pencil rather than pen. Plus, pencil is a good choice for making notes in your textbook. Pencil is harder to see and is easily erased when it is book buy-back time (if you are concerned about that kind of thing).

  • printer ink (always have at least one spare on hand)

Murphy’s Law states: “The ink cartridge will run out of ink when you are printing the final page of your paper.” The ink cartridge always runs out of ink when you are in the middle of an important project. Always make sure that you have another printer cartridge on hand.

The way the printing looks on the page is the first impression your teacher will have of your paper. It looks unprofessional to turn in a poorly-printed paper, and it sends the message that you don’t care about your work. If you don’t care about your work, why would your teacher want to give you a good grade on it? Your teachers don’t care why they can’t read your paper, and most will lower your grade in some way if they can’t read it. Others may require you to reprint the paper before they will read it. Save yourself the trouble by printing a clean, professional-looking paper every time.

  • a ream (500 sheets) of white paper (at least one ream)

For the same reasons you need extra ink cartridges, you need lots of paper. Murphy’s Law has a similar law for paper as for ink: “You will run out of paper the night before your term paper is due.” (A ream of paper is 500 sheets. Copy paper is usually sold by the ream.) College writing classes are not paperless. You will create multiple drafts of each paper you write for a writing class. Plus, you will be sharing your work with your classmates, so you’ll need to bring 2 or more copies of your paper to class occasionally. Bottom line: you can expect to print multiple copies and multiple versions of your paper. Be prepared by having lots of paper on hand.

A ream of paper should be enough for most of a semester but never have less than 50 sheets on hand. (See Murphy’s Law above.)

  • stapler and extra staples

You might think this is obvious, but every semester I have students turn in papers without stapling them. If you don’t want your teacher to misplace a critical page of your essay, staple all the papers together.

  • any other supplies your teacher mentions on the syllabus

Teachers have different methods for wanting you to turn in papers. Some will ask for the paper only in which case you don’t need any additional supplies. Some will ask for the paper with its drafts. In this case, the teacher may want you to put your work in a manilla folder or a two-pocket folder. Most teachers will tell you how they want papers submitted and what extra materials you need to buy in their syllabi.


Comment from Nadine
Time September 18, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Interesting, I`ll quote it on my site later.
Have a nice day

Comment from Charlie
Time September 29, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Greetings, I have already seen it somewhere…

Comment from
Time May 15, 2014 at 3:51 am

What’s up, I check your blogs on a regular basis. Your humoristic style is witty, keep up the good work!

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