8 Must-Have College Tech Essentials

College, Tech, Work / Friday, August 9th, 2019
Reading Time: 7 minutes

It’s almost back-to-school time but you can’t go back without these must-have college tech essentials. Whether it’s your inaugural year of college or you’re headed back for another, tech makes your life much easier.

I never would have gotten through my college years without ample tech. I had an iPad, laptop, e-reader, apple pencil—basically, I had everything. And it paid off, two degrees later I have a better appreciation for tech and a great college experience.

Your College Tech Top-Essential: Laptop

I would have never gotten through college without my laptop. Seriously it was with me every second of my college career and during my undergraduate degree when it broke, I went less than 24-hours without one.

I personally use an Apple Macbook Pro, but this top-of-the-line computer is worth more than my car (in its defence, my car isn’t worth much) which is out of the affordability wheelhouse for a lot of college students.

For a less expensive and more portable Apple, I recommend the MacBook Air. This bad boy is thin and will fit into any backpack laptop sleeve. While the screen size is smaller than most at 11.6 inches, you still have more than enough visual space to take notes, surf the net and finish all of your projects.

If you’re looking for a cheaper laptop model, you can get a great HP for less than $350. While there is a blatant difference between Apple and PC computers, both are perfectly acceptable for school (and other options). The only time I would recommend an Apple over a PC is if you’re headed into a graphic design, art or filmmaking program where you’re needing to use a ton of art-based programs.

Purchase an Apple Macbook Air on Amazon 


It was my second year of college where I discovered the beauty of e-textbooks and my iPad made working with them exclusively possible. This not only saved my back (do you know how expensive textbooks are?) but my wallet as e-textbooks are a fraction of the price.

I’m a top-of-the-line kinda girl, so I have the 11-inch iPad Pro. What I love about this model is that I can take hand-written notes using the Apple Pencil 2 and it has a split-screen so I can write notes while doing internet research.

During my Master’s degree, I spent two weeks on campus attending lectures and living in the dorm. While attending lectures, I left my laptop in my dorm room and only carted around my iPad. With a cheap wireless keyboard, your iPad can do almost anything your laptop can, making it a great lightweight alternative to carting around your laptop.

If you want a tablet to enjoy the low prices of e-texts, but can’t afford the Apple price tag (no judgement here) then I hear good things about the Fire HD 8 Tablet. While I don’t have this, I do have an 8-inch Acer that has all the capabilities to read e-texts and take notes.

Get an Apple iPad on Amazon

Portable Charger

There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a lecture trying to take notes when your tablet dies. Not to mention the classroom real estate close to the power outlet tends to be in high demand. That’s why you carry a portable charger.

When it comes to portable chargers, the Anker PowerCore is possibly the best on the market, making it one of the best college tech essentials. It has 3 USB outlets, charges devices fast and can charge your tablet twice.

Portable chargers are great student tech—they’re lightweight and don’t take up much space in your bag. If you don’t want to get caught without access to your tech, then this is a must-have!

Pick up the Anker portable charger on Amazon

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Noise-cancelling headphones are definitely on my college tech essentials list, especially if you’re living the dorm life. They help to block out the sound and allow you to fully concentrate on your paper (if you have issues listening while you work, go with nature sounds or classical music).

I have Beats headphones. Despite some of the negative things I’ve heard about them, I use them every day, almost all day. They’re a total concentration lifesaver. They pair with my laptop, iPad and phone, and are pretty easy to switch between devices.

Read my full review on the Beats noise-cancelling headphones

My only complaints have to do with the weight and tightness of the beats headphones. You definitely have to adjust them to be a little looser. And you definitely have to give your head a rest every once in a while too!

Get a pair of Beats headphones on Amazon

Laptop Lock Cable

A laptop lock cable is definitely one of those college tech essentials that you need. These are especially important if you’re working in a public space like a library by yourself and need to get up to run to the washroom or to grab a book.

While nine times out of ten your student tech will be safe, you don’t want to be the tenth so play it safe by bringing one of these along with you wherever you go. It’s easy to use and will protect your things!

Get a laptop security lock on Amazon

External Hard Drive

While hard drive space for laptops is getting bigger, it’s not always enough. Plus the more space you have open on your drive the faster your computer seems to work (or that’s what I find). 

That’s where an external hard drive comes in. I like the Western Digital brand because it’s both Apple and PC compatible. Now, you can’t necessarily use it in a PC or Macbook at the same time but if you have to change your computer you’ll be able to use it.

External hard drives are college tech essentials, especially if you’re in a program where you’re working with big files like filmmaking or graphic design. It adds extra safe storage to ensure your files are kept safe and accessible for when you need them.

Get a Western Digital hard drive on Amazon

USB Flash Drive

Not everyone wants to cart around a portable hard drive, and that’s where an easy-to-carry USB drive comes in to play. While these might seem outdated, they’re incredibly handy to have so I highly recommend putting them on your college tech essentials list.

These small little devices like the SanDisk Cruzer have a ton of space, basically the equivalent of having a decent sized phone to store and cart around extra electronic material.

While you might not use it a ton, you’ll be seriously glad you have it when you’re in a situation where you need to transfer a file or save something in a pinch.

Get a SanDisk Cruzer on Amazon

Wireless Speaker and Proper Alarm Clock

Having a wireless speaker and a proper alarm clock is an absolutely essential college tech if you’re living in a dorm room, all students should really have one.

Yes, your phone can be your alarm clock, but I highly recommend using a proper one. You shouldn’t be using your phone in the minutes that lead up to you going to bed but if you’re setting your phone alarm right before you’re exposing yourself to the blue light which interrupts your sleep pattern.

Beyond that, while using your noise-cancelling headphones is great, you do need to give your ears and neck a break every once in a while and that’s where wireless speakers come in.

The dpnao alarm clock and speaker combo is a great choice because it also acts as a charging dock for your phone!

Get a dpnao alarm clock and speaker station on Amazon

Carrying your college tech essentials

When it comes to carrying your college tech essentials, you need a good backpack. Even now when I go to business meetings, I cart my things around in a backpack because I feel like my technology is much safer, especially in a laptop sleeve.

When it comes to picking the best backpack, I love something stylish and fun like the Kingslong. Not only does it have a cute button design, but it’s also extremely packable. It has three zipped pockets for all of your goods and a water bottle pocket.

This bag is a great choice to store and cart around your back to school tech!

Get the Kingslong backpack on Amazon

Looking for More Tech Insights?

The Single Girl’s Guide to Real Adulting uses affiliate links on some of our posts. This helps support the blog and make sure we continue to bring you awesome content. Thank you for your readership and support!