Let's face the facts. No one is talking about the role school supplies plays in graduate school education. Yet it remains that school supplies represent an entire category of required tools that must be navigated.

Wanna take notes in class?

You could pull out your fancy computer OR you could use the no plug required option: pencil and paper.

Need to remember something?

You could set a reminder on your smart phone OR you could temporarily embed it into your epidermis with a ink pen that doesn't need to schedule a system update. 

You asked and we answer(as the realization sets in that school supplies are the most under rated star of MFA life). 


Don't get wrapped up in the glitter pen hype. Don't limit yourself(and your dreams) with a ball point. Technology has evolved and the best ever ink pen has been named(by me). It's the Pilot G-2 Ultra fine point(0.38). It comes in blue, black, and red ink because this pen is legit enough to know that all those other colors are for suckers. It's retractable, won't clog or pool ink, writes like silk, AND it's got a finger griper. Also don't be a jerk, just buy refills after your love affair with this wonder begins.


You simply cannot go wrong with the classic Ticonderoga #2. That is a fact of life. Practically speaking to facilitate a wood pencil you'll need to carry a blade or sharpener around too. That's totally cool, but there's already so much in my backpack! With this in mind, I humbly suggest a pencil of the mechanical variety. It just makes sense when you stop and think about it for an extended period of time like I have for this "most clicked" blog post. I'm partial to the widely embraced BIC mechanical #2 pencil with 0.5 mm lead. The Internet says it's the #1 most popular mechanical pencil, I'm suspicious of that data but also don't care enough to question it. 


During a brief period in the 1990's it was believed that during the final semester of grad school MFA students, when cut, would bleed yellow highlighter. Most art historians agree that this was an urban legend but the reliance on highlighting of texts is still pervasive in MFA programs. There are several defining characteristics of a quality highlighter. First, is color, if it's not fluorescent - don't bother. The goal of highlighting is to cause so much eye fatigue that the words will implant themselves deeper in your brain. Staring intently until your eyes water and ache is the sure sign of learning. The second characteristic to consider is flow. Highlighters that dry up are a huge disappointment and their mid-sentence failure is always disorienting. While never-ending highlighter ink technology seems to have taken a back seat to self-driving cars I suspect in the next 5-50 years we will see vast innovations. For now, we have named the official highlighter of grad school as BIC's Brite Liner Highlighter with chisel tip (btw, the flex tip is very cool too).

Update: A sponsored add based off my amazon search history just told me that sharpie has highlighters too. I'll be testing those soon and will be updating this post to reflect any changes in results. Please check back often.

Filler Paper

Go for grids. Any brand. 

Printer Paper

This essential knowledge does not matter at all. If you want to impress people when you print something use the ridiculously smooth and satisfying use BOISE Premium Multipurpose Paper. It's so smooth I rub in against my face uncontrollably. It's weird. 

Honorable Mention: Mini Stapler

Combine your flailing loose papers where ever you may roam! It's a fact that professors get agitated when you turn in unstapled papers. This Swingline Tot Stapler will save the day. 

Note to readers about sponsorship: I realize this post is a bit BIC-centric. I did not receive any free office supplies by BIC (or anyone else) to write this post. I may have borrowed a pen/pencil once that I accidentally didn't return-so in that way that person could have inadvertently contributed to this post. Thank you to that person, thank you.