The Online College Supply List You Really Need to Succeed

The Non-Essential Essential List of Things You May or May Not Need for Online College

Collage is serious business. (Yes, I meant to spell it that way it’s supposed to be funny – you can laugh now) Online college is even more serious, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun before you spend the next several years tied to your computer.

You may be wondering what kind of supplies or technology you need to make the best of your online college experience. I’ll tell you, but you may have to endure a whole lot of Dad Humor so get your cringe face ready…

When I went to college (at a physical location – they didn’t even have the internet back then – well okay they did but it was just for spies and really geeky people that used old fashioned emojis with colons and parenthesis ) oops I didn’t finish my sentence – don’t learn grammar structure from this post – you have been warned.

Like I was saying when I went to college you needed to bring a ton of supplies. Although you can get by with using all the pens you find discarded on the sidewalks between classes so you really don’t need to buy any. And if you are really miserly you can just get one really good mechanical pencil – mine lasted 4 years of art classes and I still use it now and then to this day.

University of Maryland dorm room
University of Maryland

But really if you want the true college experience you need a whole dorm room full of stuff. Bunk beds, pillows, sheets, clothes, big screen 4k TV, a stereo, huge speakers, posters, a bike, roller blades, a volley ball, football, ballerina shoes (although I didn’t really use mine). That’s not to mention the boring stuff like books, paper, pens, pencils, notebooks, a laptop, a desktop, a desktop for your desktop. You get the picture.

With online college you hardly need any of that stuff (the ballerina shoes may or may not come in handy) because you have most of what you need at home already. But there are some essentials you’ll need to make sure you have.

Essentials for Online College – The Abridged Version

SO you decided to take classes online – smart move. You live in the wonderful age of technology where that is not only possible but really really cool. I’m old I can use the word cool and still be cool. (shhh, zip it. I’m sticking with it)

By definition if you are taking online college you need a new fangled online type accessing device of some sort.

A computer.

By computer I mean any type of device that let’s you get on the internet and use visually enhanced images that move in a rapid manner. i.e… videos. Your best bet is a laptop because it is much more versatile and feature robust than a smart phone, tablet or virtual reality goggles.

I haven’t tried taking online classes with VR goggles but I’m guessing as fun as it would be to take class while wearing a medieval suit of armor it just isn’t feasible – yet.

In your typical “what do I need for online college” article they will go into all the specs you need – 1 million giga blah blah blah, 18 deci-mega bits of bitty things etc.. But the reality is if your computer was made in the last few years it will be more than adequate.

I do recommend however that you do use a laptop of some sort vs a tablet because you may run into some online colleges that still use Flash videos for their lessons. Flash is an outdated video format that may not work on all tablets. But much of what you need for online classes and teacher interaction would work just fine on an iPad, tablet or smartphone. A desktop computer is fine as well, but you’ll need an external camera for video chats.

Okay, computer, Check. Pens, paper, sticky notes, flash drive, calendar, boring stuff. Check.

Let’s talk attire.

What You Really Need for Online College

I'm wearing my Batman jammies while taking online college

The beauty of online college is that you can wear anything you want! Well, unless you are doing a video chat I wouldn’t recommend the footie jammies unless it’s pajama day (they really should have more pajama days in college like they do in grade school shouldn’t they?) Especially if you are enrolled in an online early childhood education associate degree program. Phew that’s a mouthful.

Anyway there are some theories that you will be more productive if you actually dress like you are going to a real job or brick and mortar school. Get all dressed up in business attire and online college will be a breeze.

I can’t say if there is any merit to that theory as I still wear jammies to work most mornings (I can get away with it since I work at home – the last time I wore my fuzzy bunny slippers and Batman pajamas to work I got a few odd looks – lots of compliments though)

So attire. Wear something comfortable, but not too cozy that you fall asleep during the video lessons. Drooling on your keyboard might actually have harmful side effects. You’ve been warned.

Non-Essential Essential #2 Hydration

Gallons and gallons of coffee. I know, so cliche. You don’t really need any coffee or caffeine of any sort to be successfsgasav,.. (oops fell asleep there for a bit) successful with online college. But if you enjoy coffee by all means cozy up and grab a latte. Or, it could be a steaming cup of cocoa, or I’m really digging the Earl Grey right now.

The point is get yourself your favorite hydration enhancing beverage (well maybe not favorite you don’t want to start slurring during a video chat) but it is good to have some water or refreshing beverage to keep that mouth fired up if you need to ask or answer any questions.

If you find yourself getting tired during lessons throw down a few jumping jacks or my go to while chugging through difficult text books was pushups after every chapter. I don’t know if it enhanced my learning but it sure enhanced my career as the stuntman for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Okay fine, it didn’t, but a little physical activity boosts the endorphins and can help the brain remember important details. (geeze tough crowd)

Non-Essential Essential #3 – Eye Wear

Very studious puppy all set for higher education

Actually this isn’t really a non-essential it’s pretty important if you spend a lot of time looking at a digital screen. Blue light blocking computer glasses.

The jury is still out on how much of an effect blue light radiation from screens actually has, but some say it can cause dry eyes, eye strain, sleep cycle disruption and even macular degeneration.

I do know after years and years of working on computers that eye strain and headaches can be a major problem. So here are a few good practices to keep in mind when spending a lot of time in front of a screen.

  • Sit an arm’s length away from your screen. Preferably so you are looking slightly downward. (however a chiropractor will tell you to make sure you are looking up toward the screen vs down to help with proper posture so who knows which method is best)
  • If you have a lot of glare you can use a matte screen filter. You can also try apps or filters for your monitor that filter out blue light.
  • Use the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This does really help with eye strain.
  • When your eyes feel dry, close them and cup your palms over your eye for 30 seconds. Then blink a few times to get them re-hydrated. I’m not much of an advocate of poking things in your eye but a jab with your finger… just kidding DO NOT do that. Eye drops might be a better alternative.
  • Try to stay away from fluorescent lighting while on the computer. If you can use daylight or full spectrum bulbs.
  • If you wear contact lenses, give your eyes a break by wearing your glasses.

There you have it. The non-essential list of essentials you’ll need when taking classes online. Of course there are plenty of other things you’ll need that are not on this list but the fun part of starting a new adventure is discovering that along the way. (you may just find that you prefer a blue pen over a black pen you just never know). But there is one thing I do know…

You made it! If you survived this article online college will be super easy. Congrats on the path to your future.

List of online college supplies you may need in your online education

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View posts by James
These days information is at our finger tips. When we want it, wherever we want it. For this reason online colleges have become a valid way to get your degree. I've spent (and am spending) hundreds of hours researching the world of online education for my own children. This blog will hopefully help you save some time in your research so you can get your degree a little bit faster.

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