As a graduate student, I know you have expenses that seem to come out of nowhere. From bookshelves to office supplies and learning tools, I have researched many popular gadgets that graduate students tend to need for their years in grad school. I divided them up by types of supplies, and I hope this blog will help you decide what should go on your Christmas list.
However many years you decide to stay in school, you will accumulate many books, papers, reports, and note-filled notebooks (try scanning them and keeping a pdf). Bookshelves and filing cabinets will allow you to keep all the assignments you complete, all the notes you take, and all the books you read in a confined space. You can always start your search on Craigslist for cheap or free bookcases and filing cabinets, but if that doesn’t work out for you, Ikea has a good choice of bookcases under $100 here and wide collections of drawer units that you can use for file cabinets here.
Deciding on which pieces of hardware to purchase can be a daunting task, but I have a few resources that can help you narrow down your choices for laptops, printers, and hard drives. For instance, do you prefer your laptop to be more durable, or would you rather it have a long-lasting battery life? You can begin to answer these questions by reading PhDStudent’s article, Best Laptop for Grad School. Also, an article I recently found on Mashable helps identify what specific types and brands of laptops work best for grad students; read 10 Best Back-to-School Laptops to narrow your search.
Sometimes, personal printers aren’t necessary until after graduation because many universities provide free printing services. You might, however, find yourself printing at odd hours and not wanting to commute to campus, so buying a printer might be a good choice for you. Check out John Burek’s article about which types of printers you should avoid and which ones you should continue researching. Consider saving some trees and cost by making a free pdf printer your default printer.
You’ll also want to think about buying an external hard drive to back up your computer files. These gadgets are important to have around in case you lose certain files or your computer decides to crash at an inopportune time. Take a look at Brett Day’s article, Top External Hard Drives for College Students; he provides many choices and is knowledgeable about each one.
A few other supplies that family and friends can purchase for you for Christmas include flash drives, smartphone applications, and simple office/school supplies. With the creation of Dropbox and other cloud backups, the need for flash drives has slightly decreased, but you can never save your work in too many places, as long as those places don’t take up too much space. Also, apps can be great resources instead of just games to help you procrastinate. Visit Tamara Powell’s article, 10 Great Apps for Grad Students to learn more about valuable apps to use.
Additional miscellaneous items that you might add to your Christmas list are office/school supplies, such as nice notebooks, your favorite pens, and large binders. Because of costs, I might not suggest purchasing the highest quality of every school supply that you can find. For instance, you might like to take notes in a small, less durable notebook for things that you won’t need to keep for years, and then use more durable notebooks, pens, and binders for materials that you will need to review or keep for a long time.
I hope that this small list of graduate tools has helped you narrow down what you would like to receive for Christmas this year. If you have any further suggestions about gifts that would benefit graduate students, then please let us know in the comment section below. I hope the end of everyone’s semesters is going well and that you all remember that stress from finals and term papers will be over before you know it. If, however, you’re so stressed that you’re not sure how you can enjoy your holiday season, check out the recent blog I just posted about enjoying your holidays.