Back to School Supplies — for Professors and Graduate Students


Are you ready for the beginning of the semester? Of course not.

That’s okay. I’m here to help. No, I’m not going to update your syllabi for you, nor finish your paper, nor resolve any time travel paradoxes.

But if you did want to procrastinate on some of that just a little bit more, or reward yourself for having completed something, or add a task to your to-do list that is easy to check off, well look no further. Or rather, look just a little bit further, and check out the Daily Nous Back to School Shopping Guide.

Let’s start at the beginning of the day.

First, you have to get up. Yes, you can set an alarm on your phone. But if you find yourself snoozing too many times, you might want to consider this now classic alarm clock, which will run away from you when it goes off.

What else do you do before work? That’s your business, of course, but do be sure to throw on some philosophythemed clothing, as you surely always do, before leaving your home.

Don’t forget your work bag. Are you more the sleek messenger bag type or the sensible backpack type or the fashionable-yet-functional type or what? Whichever you go for, it’s good to have an extra little bag or two for inside, to hold electronics, wires, adaptors, etc.

Speaking of which, I like this charger. It’s small and slim and you can fold its plugs flat when it’s not in use. Oh, and is the wifi not working? You never know when that might be the case, and while there might be ethernet cables lying around the department or classroom, if you don’t have an ethernet cable jack on your computer, you’ll need an adaptor.

Got earbuds? I don’t have the budget to test out various models, but I do have the two-generations-prior version of these, which are still good, and the new ones are supposed to be better.

If you wear sunglasses or reading glasses, don’t just throw them in your bag—for a few bucks you can extend the life of those lenses. If the forecast calls for rain, get a good-sized-but-still-portable umbrella.

If you’re going away for a conference or talk, you’ll need luggage: this is good, durable, fits in carry-on bins, and is not outrageously priced.

Hydration is important. I like this smaller (16 oz.) bottle for water. It’s lockable and extra-leakproof, holds temperature very well, and doesn’t take up too much room. I don’t quite like that bottle for coffee, though, because it isn’t really made to be sipped from, and if you try to drink from it carefully, as you might with hot liquids, the flip-top lid may be up against your nose. I use a version of this travel mug for coffee instead, and it’s great, though I’m curious about this one (if you’ve tried it, let us know about it).

At work you need pens. No new recommendations here: these are my pens—comfortable and smooth-writing (10-pack available here). Get some pencils, too, for writing in books, for the smell of them, and for the pleasure of taking a moment to sharpen them. These write well, aren’t too fancy, and have a white eraser, which I like (an unpainted variation, with black eraser, is here).

A white board for your office can be a helpful for keeping ideas and deadlines in view, and for meetings with students. Don’t forget dry erase markers (finer tip, since they’re easier to write with and the board isn’t lecture-hall-distance away) and erasers.

Need decorations for your office walls, the hallway, the common area? Consider philosophy-themed posters made by fellow philosophers. (Also available there: mugs, pillows, shirts, and more, including tote bags, which are super helpful for that time every few years when the library insists you return a few dozen of the books you’ve checked out.)

How’s your office chair? Maybe you could use some more back support, or a massaging footrest.

Does your office get too cold in the winter? Consider a small portable heater that can also double as a fan when your office is too hot in the spring.

You may benefit from a desk lamp. This one has both adjustable brightness and color temperature, and is pretty reasonably priced.

Lastly, I’d recommend you get a small plant for your desk or windowsill. You can find one here, I bet.

I’m sure I’ve neglected certain types of things, so please feel free to suggest them in the comments. And if you have your own recommendations for any specific purchases, or critiques of my recommendations, please share them in the comments, too. Thanks.

I hope the new semester goes well for all of you.


Note: many of the links in this post are “affiliate links”, which
means that your purchases through them support Daily Nous.

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Colm
Colm
10 months ago

I’m a firm believer in buying simple things that last. For example, when it comes to bags, I always like to recommend swissgear. They may not be the most attractive, but they do everything you need a bag to do, and they last. For waterbottles and coffee, I personaly like using nalgene or hydroflask. Nalgene for water, and a hydroflask bottle for holding coffee that I portion out into a mug I keep where I work. Also, I’m particular about my pens, but about four months ago, I switched to using Pentel Energel pens from my normal Pilot G2, and now I will never switch back. You get the smoothness bold lines of a gel pen, but with the quick drying and smudge-resistance of a normal ballpoint. Give them a try.

Patrick Lin
10 months ago

At the risk of reducing my own access to them, this is hands-down the best CV19 face mask I’ve seen in 3+ years of using different ones. Tight foam-seal, adjustable, inexpensive, and (maybe most importantly) easy to talk/lecture in them, i.e., you’re not sucking in the mask like with others. Make sure you get the pro version.

Stay safe out there, everyone.

https://wellbefore.com/products/3d-kf94-style-kn95-pro-mask-with-adjustable-ear-loops

Mitch
Mitch
Reply to  Patrick Lin
10 months ago

I haven’t tried that one, but it looks like a 3M Aura you can get without head straps (which one should get if you actually want a good seal). Auras are much cheaper. So are the 3M Vflex which I use. It is a duckbill shape, so doesn’t shift when I talk, and is extremely breathable and comfortable. Also quite cheap. Officedepot has boxes of 50 right now for $30. They have a smaller size but neither fits my wife well. Always go with what shape/model fits your face best.

Last edited 10 months ago by Mitch
Steve
10 months ago

For those of us who have to use chalk, you gotta get some Hagoromo chalk. At the risk of sounding like an ad-bot: it’s like writing with a stick of butter, and leaves far less residue on your hands than ordinary chalk

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  Steve
10 months ago

Almost a decade ago, there was a panic because the company that made it was going out of business. It looks like a Korean company transferred the technology and is still making the chalk, and mathematicians around the world rejoice:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/17/world/asia/hagoromo-chalk.html

Leonel Alvarez Ceja
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
10 months ago

There is also a neat video on the chalk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhNUjg9X4g8. Unfortunately, my nephew, at one point, thought it was sidewalk chalk… I have a few left.

academic migrant
academic migrant
10 months ago

If you have to travel internationally and/or receive funds from overseas, Wise (formerly transfer wise) is a find multi currency card that can receive funds.

If you want app games, Monument Valley is ancient but still very enjoyable.

Paul Wilson
10 months ago

Heated seminar discussions are (usually) well controlled with an ever ready fireplace poker.

This 40″ solid steel model will overreach and tamper most any incendiary adversary.

https://a.co/d/ePSLl0h

penurious philosopher
penurious philosopher
10 months ago

$300 for a laptop bag…someone’s earning more than anyone I went to grad school with!

JDRox
JDRox
10 months ago
Michel
Michel
10 months ago

Spend $20 on a terrabyte-sized thumb drive. Then back up your files.

academic migrant
academic migrant
Reply to  Michel
10 months ago

Preferably it could connect to both USB-A and USB-C.

Meme
Meme
10 months ago

Sell all your possessions except for a bowl; then break the bowl.