A few days ago I fell in love… with a pen. My boyfriend’s Office Max blue pen to be precise. He kindly donated it to my cause insisting my need was greater than his. (Which is probably true because I’m a law student and he studies software engineering.) The more I used this pen, the more I fell in love with it. Oh god, I began thinking, what will happen when this pen dies? How will I cope? (I’m only being a little bit dramatic here). My fear drove me to the Office Max site where I bought a box of the pens… and a few things besides.
I am a stationery fiend. So, it’s a good thing I am also a law student because boy, do we go through stationery! Semester starts in less than a week, which means I’ve been prepping like crazy to make sure I’m as ready as can be for my upcoming classes. Last week I posted my top 5 things to do before school starts, so if you haven’t already seen it, you can check it out here. This week I’m doing a wee “stationery haul” of the essentials for a new school year.
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Pens & Highlighters
These are obviously essential. Even though I take notes on my laptop, I still like to read hardcopies, highlighting and annotating as I go.
The pens I was professing my feelings for above are the blue OfficeMax retractable ballpoint pen. They have a medium point and “superglide ink”. That superglide ink is the best thing about these pens. They’re the perfect cross between a ballpoint and a super inky gel pen. They don’t go through the paper like some inky pens do, and they’re not hard and scratchy like some ballpoints. They literally glide across the page.
Of course, if you’re studying law you also have to have a bunch of highlighters… haven’t you seen the memes?
At the moment I have an assortment of highlighters left from last semester – highlighters never all run out at the same time! For the most part I like the Staedtler textsurfer classic highlighters because the tip is the perfect width for a range of different texts. But, I’m not a huge fan of the purple colour I find it too dark on the page – it seems to drown out the text. For purple, I tend to use the Warwick highlighters because they’re a lot softer. I also like using the yellow Sharpie Fluo XL highlighter because its super inky and seems to last forever. Since yellow is my most commonly used colour these are a good option because you can buy them individually and I reckon the value for money is pretty good.
Labels & Tabs
The other essentials for completing readings are sticky tabs. I like to colour code my courses so that I can grab the correct material a glance and tabs are great for that. I tend to use two types of tabs – slightly bigger ones, which I write on, to divide books into topics; and smaller ones to flag important information or sub-sections. If you’re on to it, you can re-use your tabs which can save a heap of money since these little things are crazy expensive.
Occasionally I will also use sticky notes. I couldn’t bring myself to pay for the “real” Post-Its, so I bought some cheap ones for Kmart which do the same job. I just end up throwing the notes away so these student-budget friendly alternatives work perfectly.
Notebooks and Filing
Since I don’t write my lecture notes out by hand, I don’t need multiple lecture books. Instead, I just have one spiral bound, lined A4 book that I take with me to each class to jot down any ideas or as a back up if my laptop runs out of battery. I mainly use this book to plan essays (I find it easier to do this task on paper) or to write lists.
I bring any papers or readings I need for the day with me in an A4 document envelope. I’ve had my red one for ages (probably six years) and it still serves me well. I use some A4 ring binder dividers to divide the envelope up according to course, so it’s easy to access the relevant information.
Planning and Scheduling
Most of my scheduling is done on iCalendar, but I do find it useful to have hard copies of my immediate schedule/ to-do list. Since the beginning of this year I have been using a Kikki K week planner (similar here) to organise my week and it has helped me keep on top of the tasks I need to do.
Most of my study notes and outlines are done on my computer, but this year I wanted to try making some flash cards with key concepts and cases. I bought some index cards to try this out. I’m a little concerned that they’re too big, but I’ll see how it goes and let you know.
So, those are my back to university/ law school essentials. Let me know in the comments what your stationery essentials are!