Tech Gadgets for Back to School

This may seem like a weird post. But I wouldn’t be a good educator working at a University if I didn’t include some really useful and helpful tech purchases that will see you through undergrad and graduate school. Here’s a list of some awesome things I’ve used or wish I had when I was a student and have seen students use successfully. Students: just skip the printer purchase. There are so many on every college campus, just use those. You already pay for the ink and paper anyways, it’s included as fees at almost every college campus. Use those fees and save your money on ink, the printer is cheap/free the ink is NOT. It is convenient to have one, but you have to move it into your dorm. You want to do that in August?

Livescribe 2GB Echo Smartpen

2GB Echo™ Smartpen
Everything you get in the package. At $179, this product is absolutely worth the purchase price. You won’t miss another sentence that ended up on the exam again.

I used this when I was a Masters and Doctoral student. This pen is truly amazing especially if you get lost during lectures easily like I do. In order to get the full benefit you do have to use Livescribe’s spiral notebooks but you’ll want to. This pen records lectures and syncs the lecture to your note taking. Yeah. Super cool. If you missed something during lecture, not a big deal. You can go back to your dorm load to lecture to your computer using the included USB cord and watch your note taking while you listen to the lecture. You can even add to your notes later. It also comes with different colored ink if you color code your notes. I loved this when I used it. I still use it at conferences. It’s getting a bit old, but I’ve been using it for at least 8 years now and it’s withstood backpacks, dogs, hot cars, all of it and short of scratches it still works perfectly well. Fun fact: students do have high grades when they hand write notes versus type them.

Instant Pot 6Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Pressure Cooker – $59.99 + free shipping

Between on campus eating options and the crazy amount of fast-food restaurants students have access to it isn’t hard to figure out how the freshman 15 or in my case the freshman 20 can be easily attained. Today’s students are really health conscience for the most part but are looking for quick meals. They’re active, they like to eat healthy in college, and they’re incredibly busy. The problem is that there aren’t that many options especially for quick easy meals. Enter the Instant Pot. We’ve all seen the rage that the Instant Pot has made over the last several years and there are TONS of recipes on pinterest. (Follow me on Pinterest for some of those recipes) At $60 dollars, this is nothing price wise. Many college students can easily spend that much on drive thru in a week. Between this and a crock pot, you can have dinner covered in any dorm and not be a fire hazard. Check with your particular dorm to make sure they allow pressure cookers, many allow electronic ones, but not stovetop. I have a 10-in-1 pressure cooker but never use it. The 7-in-1 has every function I need. Chicken and Rice is a super easy dish I often cook. 3 cups of rice, 3 cups water, 2 tablespoons of miso, 5 or so boneless chicken thighs. Push the poultry setting and all you need to do is add a salad and you have an easy and complete meal. This is my easy go to meal during the week.

Avocado Green Mattress

Ultra/Extra-wide Computer Monitor

This one you will use 1000x over. Most college students now use laptops. I do all my work on a 15″ laptop. Most faculty does as well. We’re asked to move around too much, do work at conferences. I’ll even take my laptop on planes and will do work on planes. In order to maximize space on my desk I purchased a 21:9 ultrawide computer monitor. I LOVE THIS MONITOR. I can keep two documents open at once while I work on documents. One half may have lecture notes, the other half will have a Word Document or the internet open looking up sources for a report I’m writing. Depending on what I’m doing I’ll even have 4 windows open. I often watch YouTube videos while I’m working or Spotify to have some background noise. That will take up a small portion of that screen, email or my calendar. You’ll find a way to fill the space and keep you laptop screen open to work on other things. Especially if you have a 13″ laptop, you’ll definitely want one of these monitors.

This is the only place I feel curved technology actually works. It is more expensive but it’s easier to see everything since it’s such a small space and it’s focused directly at your head. I have an LG 29″ flat screen which is on sale for $229. I really do wish I would’ve purchased the curved tech after using my husbands monitor he keeps in the home office. If you’re looking for a curved monitor we have the 34″ LG curved monitor which is $549.99 but a less expensive option that gets good reviews is the Viotek 34″ Curved Monitor which is $399.99. It is expensive but for the improved productivity is absolutely worth it. It also works well for a gaming monitor.


I went to college with a 17″ laptop. OMG do I regret that. It’s heavy, bulky, doesn’t fit in any backpack that’s easy to work with. Worse of all they’re expensive. Unless you’re using a laptop for gaming the 17″ is just unneccessary. You may as well buy a small tower and save yourself $1000. What I would suggest is a 13″ or 15″ and then get an external monitor. All laptops have an HDMI port today so you’re not going to have 10 cords running around like I did. A 13″ laptop is great for mobility but hard to work on size wize. The 15″ is a great go between with mobility, weight, and screen size. Most computer companies offer a ‘discounted’ rate for students. It’s typically between $100-200. If you use the cloud extensively (Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive) you can get by with a 13″ solid state drive. They don’t really hold much outside of programs and operating system but they boot up extremely quickly, don’t lag as much, and weigh the least. I personally like my Dell but I also loved my MacBook.
My Dell is a 2017 Dell Latitude, which is great but its designed for businesses. It’s bulkier than most college students require. So I’d suggest this Dell Inspiron. It has a dual hard drive which speeds up boot up, 16G Ram, and has a touchscreen monitor. I haven’t had any luck with HP or Samsung laptops. I know they’re popular but both of mine were junked after a year. My husband uses an Surface Pro and after 2 years he’s dying to get rid of it. He finds his Surface Pro is slow to boot and super laggy. He works in IT so it isn’t a matter of keeping everything updated and clean. It’s also a top of the line computer. He just doesn’t like it and wants to go back to a Dell.

Photo by bruce mars on


I promise you. You will need headphones and you will go through several. I have a pair in my office, my backpack, and by my bed. I also have a pair still chilling in the packaging. If I lose one of my 3 running pair, that one comes in for the replacement. I use Skullcandy headphones. They’re $10. I go through headphones fast. I’ve left several pair in airplanes. My dogs have eaten SEVERAL pair including my Beats Bluetooth headphones (a $120 oopsies). They will get left in the library, class, friends car, backpack, etc. If you live in a traditional dorm, your headphones will be your best friend. You’ll watch and listen to what you want to watch and your roommate can do the same and you’re not going to bother your neighbors. I lived in a traditional dorm and that’s all we ever fought over. That was before YouTube and Facebook was just starting and MySpace was still popular. So not that long ago.

The walls are paper thin in every dorm. In order to fall asleep I use to listen to music, now I put something on YouTube or Hulu until I fall asleep. My husband has to have perfect silence when he falls asleep so I listen with one earbud.

Skip the Samsung earbuds. My husband went through 3 pair before he just got a refund.

If you need an over the ear set of headphones, you can’t beat Mpow’s over the ear headphones. It has bluetooth, noise cancelling, the base is clear and crisp. The sound comes out clean and at $50 most students can easily afford a replacement pair without too much damage to the checking account. If your college era checking account looked like mine it’s ‘How long can I make $10 last’. Spaghetti-Os work for lunch and dinner and you get a full serving of veggies 2x per day.

Light Therapy Glasses

This is definitely the luxury purchase but this technology is being used by athletic departments all over US universities and professional athletes as well so why not the student. I had a horrible time going to sleep when I was in college. Between random study sessions before a test that ran until 3am, followed by 8:30am classes and more studying after 8 hours of coursework my sleep schedule was never consistent. We’ve known for decades that a consistent sleep cycle improves student performance and overall mental health. The idea behind these glasses is they reprogram the body into better preparing itself for the day. Use them for 30mins between 7am and 9am. For me that would mean while I’m getting my morning coffee prepared, brushing my teeth, getting my clothes set out, doing my morning twitter/news check. It takes me around 30 minutes to do that. And that’s it. This technology is backed by NASA research and Pegasi is a member of the National Sleep Foundation. This is great if you’re wanting to stay away from taking sleeping aides or if sleeping aides leave you feeling worse in the morning.

Lastly, Enjoy College. It’s so much fun. I was lucky that my parents could afford to send me to college outright. I didn’t have to take loans for undergrad (grad school was a different matter entirely). I had the freedom to enjoy a lot of what the college experience was but make sure to make it your own experience. You don’t have to do everything, get involved with every student organization. I had more fun with friends playing video games in my dorm or studying in the library.

Stay Tuned as I find more cool little things I forgot to add or wish I had I’ll keep adding those.

If you have anything fun that you’ve seen link it down below in the comments. Who knows you might see it on the list with a shout out!

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