Before I started my PhD, I thought, ‘what do I need to buy before uni?’ I basically had NO IDEA what I would need. I mean, I’d only even found out about my funding a few weeks before, didn’t have my final supervision team set, and had no idea what to expect. If you’re in the same boat, don’t worry, I’m here to help! I’ve compiled a list of my top 7 grad school necessities, so you’ll be well prepared for your first day!
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Obviously, you need a decent laptop before going to uni or grad school. I, personally, have been very happy with my 13″ MacBook Pro. It’s what basically what everyone else in my programme used their equipment budget for.
The specs I’d recommend really depend on your field. If you’re in computer science and will be doing some heavy-duty computational processing, I’d recommend going for the highest power model you can afford.
Getting a refurbished model is also a good option if the newest one is outside of your budget.
If you have an equipment budget, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing this until you actually start uni, though. Usually, you’ll have to buy directly through your university’s supplier.
Now, I know people love to have the Apple vs. PC debate. Unfortunately, I've had a MacBook for so long now I'm not sure I could provide a good alternative option as I'm not super familiar with what's out there these days.
If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I’m a little bit obsessed with noise cancelling headphones. And I do think they are a necessity for uni, even though they’re an investment. I’ve done a whole post on my recommendations for noise cancelling headphones here, but, basically, I think they’re essential for studying, writing, commuting, and travelling.
These are the ones I have (and love!):
Here's a slightly more affordable option:
Note: I haven't used these ones personally, but they get very good reviews, so I've included them here. Plus, I highly trust the Sony noise cancelling products in general.
And, an even cheaper option:
A weird number of people I know just seem to put their laptops in their backpack without a second thought without a case or sleeve. This just seems like a terrible idea to me, especially when there are so many cute cases out there.
I have one like this:
Okay, so I know everyone takes notes on their computers these days, but honestly, I still recommend using good old pen and paper. The fact of the matter is, writing things down really does help you retain them and not being on your laptop during lectures does help you stay focused.
Now, the first week will probably be mostly orientation and admin activities, but there’ll be lots of key info you’ll need to write down. I’d recommend getting at least one good notebook for admin notes, meeting, lecture, and research notes.
Basically every year of uni, I’ve bought this set of notebooks:
If you’re looking for a prettier option, I LOVE any Papier notebooks:
Pot Yer Tits Away Luv Notebook (supports breast cancer charities)
Now, it’s up to you if you want to plan things on paper or on your phone. I, personally, do both. I do my weekly plans on a calendar like this FREE printable one I've created:
I put any meetings, presentations, lectures, etc. in my iPhone calendar, as well as in the notes section of my paper weekly planner.
If you'd rather buy one (or don't have a printer!), check out this one:
For more information, check out this article on how I plan my weeks.
So, the first week of uni, you’re bound to get TONNES of handouts with super important information on them. It’s super useful to have a folder or binder to keep track of them all.
Also, if you’re like me and prefer to read things on paper, you’ll likely end up with lots of printed articles over the course of your studies.
I think these binders are particularly cute.
Pair it with these tabs, which also have folder pockets, and you’ll be good to go!
Now, if you’re using a binder, you’re naturally going to need a hole punch. I, personally like these ones:
So, that's it! That's all I feel you absolutely NEED to buy for grad school. What’re your grad school necessities? What did you buy for uni? Let me know in the comments below.