Life at college (or university) can be pretty hectic. In amongst the endless textbooks you need to read, the thousands of words you need to write and the infinite alcoholic beverages you will likely consume, finding some spare time to yourself can be a tricky task. Indeed, anything that can make academic life a little easier is not worth turning your nose up at.
Luckily, with this in mind, we’ve decided to help you out. We’ve scoured the web to find the best gadgets for students, from the latest electronic tech to the simplest rudimentary concepts. The result is a fine array of devices and accoutrements that would complement even the most sophisticated dormitory.
So, if you are heading away for school anytime soon, don’t even think about packing without these 18 essential gems…
1. Kindle Fire 7
Having the ability to load all your required course reading onto one small, sleek and very attractive device won’t just save you the physical pain of lugging 700-page textbooks around. Oh, no – it will also spare you the mental anguish of missing out on the last copy of The History of Nouns as you smugly download the digital version. Investing in a Kindle will often save you money on the price of books, too, with downloadable editions usually much cheaper.
Note: We’ve opted for the Fire 7 version rather than the traditional Paperwhite or Oasis versions simply because it has the option to use Netflix, Spotify and various other important educational apps; your academic performance is our main priority, after all…
$49.99 (£35) | Buy the Kindle Fire 7
2. Portable Hard Drive
Probably the only thing worse than writing a 3,000-word essay is losing it to a spontaneous tech malfunction; therefore, backing up your work regularly is a wise idea. The Toshiba Canvio Basics has 1TB, 2TB and 500GB varieties (handy if your course contains a lot of media projects), as well as the ability to store your entire library of movies, photos and music on one small device.
$49.99 (£35) | Buy the Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB Portable Hard Drive
3. LED Desk Lamp
No college desk space is complete without a practical and stylish lamp, and the UNIFUN Touch Lamp ticks both of these boxes. As well as a rechargeable internal battery, there are a number of colours to suit your mood, plus the ability to adjust your brightness accordingly – perfect if you tend to do most of your essay writing in the small hours.
$19.99 (£14) | Buy the UNIFUN Touch Lamp
4. USB Laptop Backpack
With tech becoming a more integral part of everything we use, even rucksacks are not immune. Matein’s slim travel laptop backpack (available in blue, black and grey) is a shining example of this, with a built-in USB charger allowing you to keep your phone or device juiced up on the move. There is also an anti-theft pocket in the back, as well as a spacious packing compartment for textbooks and lunch boxes.
$35.99 (£25) | Buy the Matein USB Laptop Backpack
5. Portable Charger
Even with a backpack that can charge your iPad, it’s always handy to have a high-performance backup if you have more than one device or the bag gets damaged. The Anker PowerCore 10000 can charge all kinds of devices at rapid speed and includes almost three-and-a-half iPhone 6 and two-and-a-half Galaxy S6 charges within its small and slender frame.
$25.99 (£18) | Buy the Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger
6. Smart Notebook
The debate between typing and hand-writing notes has raged across lecture halls for some time now, but with a smart notebook, you get the best of both worlds. As you write, the ink bonds to the specialised, reusable pages, which can then be easily uploaded to any major cloud-based program such as Google Drive, Dropbox or Evernote. As well as being environmentally friendly, it’s a far more efficient way to organise your notes.
7. Heated Travel Mug
Everybody agrees that coffee is an essential part of any student’s morning routine, so save yourself some cash at Starbucks and bring your own coffee to campus in a chargeable heated travel mug. You can even plug it into a USB port to keep the cup warm during those intense all-nighters at the library.
8. Ethernet Cable
Most college dormitories have WiFi built in, often with upwards of 100+ students sharing the same bandwidth – fine if you’re working or just casually browsing the web. But as soon as you try to stream video, the demand on the network will cause problems; not ideal when you’re trying to catch up with Stranger Things.
The solution? Switch to an Ethernet cable instead for a significantly stronger connection. The Cat 6 Ethernet cable by Jadaol gives you 50m of cable to play with, as well as a pack of cable clips to keep your wires orderly.
$11.90 (£8.30) | Buy the Jadaol Cat 6 Ethernet Cable
9. Noise-Cancelling Headphones
As well as built-in WiFi, college dormitories also contain a lot of noise – great when you’re feeling sociable but not when an essay deadline is just days away. Block out such distractions with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and immerse yourself in your work.
$64.99 (£45.50) | Buy the Mpow H5 Active Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones
10. Portable Printer
Sure, there are printers in the library but when the entire student body is hitting deadlines at the same time, access might be tricky. Avoid the chaos and print from the comfort of your own dorm or, alternatively, pop out for a coffee and print from your phone. HP’s Envy 4520 has wireless and cloud-based compatibility, so you can get hard copies of your projects wherever you are. Its slender frame means it won’t take up much room, either – perfect for when moving day comes!
From $39.95 (£28) | Buy the HP Envy 4520 Wireless All-in-One Mobile Printer
11. Surge Protector
With all this electrical equipment sitting around, you don’t want to risk blowing a fuse in your ever-growing Jenga tower of plug sockets. Luckily, Belkin is the gold standard in safety-first surge protectors. With 12 sockets, including rotating outlets for easier access, and over 4,000 joules of energy, you won’t be short of options; it even comes in 6-foot, 8-foot and wall-mounted varieties.
$64.99 (£45.50) | Buy the Belkin 12-Outlet Surge Protector
12. Foldable Keyboard
It’s a fact of life that, sometimes, you might get caught short; I am, of course, talking about not having your laptop to hand. In such instances, you might think that it’s impossible to get any work done, but you would be wrong: with a foldable keyboard (compatible with all major devices), you can type away on your phone or tablet before conveniently packing everything away again into your trouser pocket. Very efficient.
$29.99 (£21) | Buy the Jellybomb Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard
13. Burrito Maker
This is where things start to get really interesting. Students might not be renowned for their gourmet cooking skills, but needs often must. After a night of partying, the only way you’re likely to survive that 9am philosophy lecture is with a hearty breakfast – this inexpensive and practical burrito maker offers the ideal solution.
British students, meanwhile, may prefer to indulge their palette more accordingly…
From $24.69 (£17.30) | Buy the Hamilton Beach 25495 Breakfast Burrito Maker
14. Clip-On Silicone Colander
On the subject of food, this handy contraption can aid in the consumption of that other great staple of the student diet: pasta. The silicone colander adjusts to fit on any size pot or bowl.
$15.99 (£11) | Buy the Gizmo Snap ‘N Strain Clip-On Strainer
15. LED Frisbee
No self-respecting college student would even think of turning up on campus without a Frisbee; they are, after all, the glue that holds together the social core of the student body. The fun doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down, either, with these multi-coloured LED babies ideal for initiating alcohol-induced sports injuries during fresher’s week.
$22.30 (£15.60) | Buy the Flash Flight Disc-O
16. Cards Against Humanity: College Pack
Although not technically a gadget per se, Cards Against Humanity is still the ultimate way to make new friends (and possibly offend them at the same time). This special college edition is only likely to heighten the fun (or the tension); if it doesn’t work out, at least you’ll have the Frisbee to fall back on.
17. LED Photo Clip Lights
If you’re living away from home for the first time, it’s understandable that you’ll want to make your dorm room a little more homely. These LED photo clip lights are perfect for displaying your memories, as well as creating a little mood ambience at the same time.
$14.99 (£10.50) | Buy the Amazlab T2CU LED Photo Clips String Lights
18. The Naked Roommate
Again, not a gadget, but invaluable, nonetheless. Harlan Cohen’s seminal guide to what awaits you at college – and how to handle it – has been read and recommended by thousands of students and graduates, including on what to do when presented with the eponymous scenario. Of all the required reading you will be asked to do, this one might just be the most important.
Studying isn’t easy – far from it, in fact. But you can make your life a lot easier with this impressive array of gadgetry, allowing you to focus on more pressing concerns.
Are you currently in college? Is there anything else you would recommend? Let us know in the comments below…