Best Back to School 2018: A Shopping List for College Students

Best Back to School 2018: A Shopping List for College Students

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Getting ready for a new semester often means new clothes to buy, devices to purchase, backpacks to replace and school supplies to acquire. College isn't cheap, so we've tried to find products that are more affordable for both a starving student's budget as well as for parents who are helping their children out. This list contains everything from coffee makers to get you up in the morning to the best laptop backpacks so you can easily protect and transport your devices. If you're specifically looking for a new laptop, check out our recommendations for school laptops.

HP OfficeJet 3830 All-In-One Wireless Printer (K7V40A)

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This printer allows you to scan documents and send them to email, which can help you get your assignments or release forms to your college professors faster. It also features wireless printing, so you can print from your laptop, tablet or smartphone (as long as you have Wi-Fi). It's perfect for any college student, or any household with K-12 students. Make sure you pick up the correct ink cartridges HP 63 Ink, which comes in Black cartridgesTri-color cartridges or a Variety Black and Tri-Color Cartridge pack. You'll also want to stay stocked up on paper during the school year, like Georgia-Pacific Spectrum. If you want to know more about these devices check out our reviews of all-in-one printers.

New School Year, New Clothing

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Many clothing stores are offering back to school sales. One of the best we've seen is JCPenny's, which gives you $10 off a purchase of $50 dollars or more. Target's back-to-school clothing and shoe deals can help you save $5 on a $25 purchase or $10 on a $40 purchase. Amazon is also offering plenty of clothing deals for students from grade school to college, so be sure to check them out if your wardrobe needs an update. College students, if you are going to an out-of-state college with drastic weather differences from where you grew up, make sure you purchase the right clothing you'll need to be comfortable in your new setting.


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College students have a lot on their plate but they deserve to relax occasionally to refresh their minds. One way to do so is by purchasing a Google Chromecast or an Amazon Fire TV Stick, which gives students access to several streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, SHOWTIME, ESPN and more. If you're not sure which device is a better fit for you, read our review on streaming media service devices. Parents, your student might also appreciate you paying for a streaming service subscription like Netflix so they can have access to their favorite shows.

Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Coffee Maker

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This Mr. Coffee is a great, inexpensive coffee machine for the student on the go. It features a pause n' serve feature so you can pour yourself a cup in the middle of the brewing process. You'll also find a delay brew setting working with the digital display, which allows you to wake up to brewed coffee. It makes up to four cups of coffee in one go, and the filter basket is easy to clean. If you're looking for something a little fancier, check out our single serve coffee review. Our best pick for single-cup coffee makers is the Black+Decker DCM18S Brew 'n Go. It includes a 15-ounce travel mug and has a permanent filter so you won't have to purchase replacements.

Fire HD Tablet with Alexa

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A tablet allows your student to use the internet to read online assignments, work on homework, print wirelessly to a printer, or relax when schoolwork is done by watching their favorite shows or listening to music.

The Amazon Fire 7 has a 7-inch screen, works with Alexa and costs less than many other tablets on the market. Amazon also sells the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10, as well as kid-proof versions of the Fire HD 8 for those in grade school. To read more about how these versions compare, read our review on the Best Amazon Fire Tablets of 2018. These tablets come in four different colors -  black, yellow, blue and red – so you can choose the color that fits your student best. The built-in camera also makes it easy for your student to video chat back home via Skype or Google Hangouts. You can either purchase this device with 8GB or 16GB of space.

We highly recommend getting a screen protector, since accidents do happen. For added protection and convenience, consider buying a case with a built-in stand like this Fintie Slim Case, which comes in a variety of colors and allows you to keep the device angled up without using your hands. Students can use the fire to take notes, which is a lot easier with the Fintie Folio Keyboard case.

Prime Student (50% Off)

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Amazon's 50% off discount for students makes Prime memberships more feasible. The free two-day delivery helps students receive necessary school items and books quickly so they don’t get behind in their classes. You can test Prime Student with a six-month free trial, after which, the price becomes $6.49 a month. A Prime membership also gives students access to exclusive deals on school items, video streaming through Prime Video and unlimited photo storage so they can capture and save memories of their student years. 

Prime Pantry

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Most people truly come to understand the term "poor starving college student" at some point during their schooling.  One way parents can help their academic children is by purchasing a Prime Pantry subscription. This allows students to order non-perishable foods like Cheerios and Ramen Noodles, as well as personal hygiene items like shampoo, conditioner and deodorant, and have them delivered directly to their dorm or apartment. This is a huge time saver, especially since your student will be able to study and focus more on school without having to somehow schedule in a trip to the store for necessities. This service also allows students to purchase cleaning supplies, which are desperately needed for apartment cleaning checks.

Prime Pantry costs $4.99 a month plus taxes. All orders over $40 include free shipping, but orders under $40 have a $7.99 shipping fee. In areas where available, Prime members can also subscribe to AmazonFresh or Amazon Now, two grocery delivery services that bring fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy items and more directly to your door.

Anker Portable PowerCore Charger 20100Ah Battery Charger

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When a tablet or phone dies in the middle of class, it suddenly becomes impossible to take digital notes. But a portable battery charger can save the day. This high capacity battery charger offers two USB ports so you can charge two devices at once. The technology allows you to charge your devices much faster than usual, and the compact, durable casing makes it easy to take in your pocket or backpack. Anker covers it with an 18-month warranty. If you're looking for something a little smaller, consider the Anker PowerCore 10000mAh. Or you might just want to purchase a dual port Anker Elite Traveling USB Wall Charger so your student can plug into any available outlet to quickly charge their devices.

Mancro Laptop Backpack

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Modern students need durable yet inexpensive backpacks that have enough space to carry school supplies, as well as safely transport laptops and other electronic devices. This backpack offers a safe, cushioned pocket for laptops 17 inches and smaller. It also features a built-in USB charging cable so you can easily charge your phone or tablet anywhere. Since students travel around with a lot of technology, this backpack comes with a shackle zipper lock to prevent and deter would-be thieves. Made of a water repellent fabric, you won't have to worry as much about your devices getting damaged should you need to walk in the rain. Another good option is the Matein Travel Laptop Backpack, which also includes plenty of padding and a built-in USB charging area. It comes in six colors so you can purchase the that best fits your style.