Thursday, July 23, 2009

School Supplies for Graduate School?

That --- the title of my post --- is what brought someone to my blog recently. I was amused, thinking of course of the little checklists my mom and I would eagerly shop for every fall. They looked something like this I snatched off
  • Glue sticks (at least three for the year)
  • Scissors
  • Ballpoint pens
  • No. 2 pencils
  • Box of tissues
  • A large pink eraser
  • Water-based markers
  • Spiral-bound or composition notebooks
What, I wondered, would the grad school version of this look like? Could you imagine what my (now much older and infinitely less eager) mom would think if I dragged her along to the store to pick up these Grade 13-Infinity School List Items?:
  • Bourbon (at least three bottles per quarter)
  • No-Doze and Redbull
  • Flash drive
  • Box of tissues
  • Antidepressants
  • Portable stapler (because none of your students will ever think to bring their own or to staple their own essays, ever)
  • Uncrushable sense of purpose

More seriously, though, I can’t think of what sort of supplies are necessary for grad school. Rifling through the department’s supply cabinet for various cheap-but-fun office supplies is one of the perks, of course, and I can’t think of anything that grad students, those eager beavers that they are, wouldn’t already be fondling and drooling over and buying too much of without my sage advice. (come on, how many grad students in English only buy the required textbooks and can get out of the bookstore without grabbing at least a few extra “ooh, how cool! I must read this!” type of things?)

Likewise I think the people I know are all such nerds that we like to go out to stationery stores and paw through all the cute notebooks and gel pens and whatnot (I just bought some new ones to reward me for writing). And everybody has trouble getting out of the House of Crack alive!

Mmmm, shiny deliciousness. I must need a new PDA to be all organized and shiny and such. Perhaps the best advice to new grad students would be to not buy all the cool shininess and to make a budget instead?

So, you tell me: what essential back-to-grad-school supplies am I missing? What will the incoming grad students need that they don’t know about yet? Or, alternately, you could add to the Surviving-the-Transition list above.


Anonymous said...

I love this post. So funny! Let's see...I'd add to the list a journal in which to vent all inevitable frustrations; an enormous supply of Motrin; and a capacious yet lightweight bag that can hold a laptop, your own course textbooks and note materials, PLUS your teaching stuff.

Maude said...

Trail Mix/Power Bars
A good thermos
Water bottle
Designated Driver
Someone to pay for internet and cable for you

Anonymous said...

De-lurking to say that I'm starting grad school in a few weeks and really think the glue sticks are a necessity. Better yet: a colorful little clutter box in which to hold the glue sticks. :)

Bardiac said...

HAH! Great post!

Non-spill coffee mugs, enough of a supply that you can use a new one when they turn into dribble cups!

A couple of really big file cabinets!

EmmaNadine said...

I knew I was an academic when I went to five separate stores trying to find some more of my favorite pen which had been discontinued. I bought every one they had when I finally found them.

So, a favorite pen.
Post-it notes were always quite handy, too.

I'm trying to come up with a similar list for fitting out my first office for when I start my job next month. Is there some magical ingredient that makes impostor syndrome go away, that subtly but effectively broadcasts, I am an adult?

canuck_grad said...

One Christmas I asked my husband for a heavy-duty stapler. I like to print off articles to read, and lots were too thick for a regular stapler. He went shopping with his brother and brother's girlfriend, who is a really girly girl - and she was very concerned - she thought he was making a big boo boo lol - she kept saying "a stapler? are you sure? are you sure she'd want it as her christmas gift?" LOL

I used lots of binders too, to organize readings for classes, my dissertation, etc. But I think if I were to start over, I would start with an alphabetical by author filing system, and use software to organize the articles - I'm liking Zotero right now, so I would probably go with that. I think I'd put all readings in there - even things for classes that I'm not sure if I'd use again - and use the folders to group them by class, topic, etc.

So to the list I'd add big stapler, Zotero (or similar software), filing cabinet (unless you have one in an office at school to use), files, and label maker (I'm a GTD geek and like to use a label maker for my filing - unlike David Allen I'm not a Brother fan though - I have an older version of this one and really like it:

Flavia said...

Lots of cans of soup, tuna, beans, and a big bag of rice for when you run out of $$ before your next stipend cheque.

A lap desk.

And I second Bardiac on the big file cabinet.

Sapience said...

Dry erase markers and chalk for teaching. (My department never manages to keep any for any length of time, so it's always best to keep spares of your own.)

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

To the Mac/PC divide, I guess we can add the bourbon/Scotch debate.
A big desk calendar or scheduling software to keep track of due dates and progress on research.

undine said...

Great post. May I add a case of Top Ramen? Other than that, your suggestions and those of everyone commenting here are great.

Anonymous said...

Post-it notes (various sizes) are my must have along with Hb pencils with an eraser on top and my second favourite gift ever - a battery powered desk top pencil sharpener.
My first favourite gift ever is my new 'Radley' laptop bag - many thanks to my very supportive husband.

The Angry Swan said...

I second EmmaNadine on the favorite pen. I really need to get to Staples soon to pick up a few boxes of Pilot Precise Grips and Precise V5s.

Renaissance Girl said...

I'd second Flavia's rice, and add a very nice selection of spices for the cupboard, so that one can spin the rice differently each night and fool oneself into thinking one is not poor but ethnically diverse.

Susan said...

Everyone has useful ideas, but I'd add reading glasses. After my first semester of grad school, I got reading glasses because my eyes were so tired...

Psycgirl said...

Several of those little foamy stress balls you can squeeze/crush/throw across the room! Large pillows to beat up when you're angry

Belle said...

Where were y'all when I needed this????

Bookphilia said...

You forgot the hair shirt!

Sisyphus said...

No no, Colleen, we expect you to weave your _own_ hair shirt from what you pluck from your own head in frustration!

This is grad school, you mustn't expect your professors to do things for you anymore.


the rebel lettriste said...

Chalk is a must. But get a little Ziploc for the chalk, because it'll get all busted up in your bag.

Also, keep the chalk nub and the OB tampons in SEPARATE POCKETS when you are teaching. Busting out the 'superplus' with which to write on the board was not one of my better teaching moments.

And, locate one of those boxes that steal cable. That shit made life possible. At least until they found us out and started scrambling the signal...

Bavardess said...

Hmmm, are the glue sticks for sticking things down or for sniffing? (if the latter, I can definitely see their utility!)

Karina said...

This is a great thread! I found your blog when I was googling around for inspiration for the title of a Scientiae theme for September 2010. If you are interested in sharing your must-have school supply list, I'd love to include it in the blog carnival! The call for posts is at my blog, Ruminations of an Aspiring Ecologist.