9 Must-Have Computer Accessories for Students

A laptop or computer setup provides a solid foundation for the modern student’s tech needs, but what about peripherals and accessories? In the flurry of activity before college starts, you may not have time to consider which computer extras will help you through the school year. Here at Staples we’ve identified nine essential computer accessories for the college-bound student.

Remote Keyboards and Mouse Pointers

Wireless keyboards and mice allow you to turn any flat surface into a desk. When you’re strapped for cash (and what college student isn’t?) it may be tempting to make do with your laptop’s built-in keyboard and tracking pad. Wireless keyboards (our techs especially love the Logitech 750 and 760 solar-powered mice) offer better ergonomics, however, reducing your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. And tracking pads don’t offer the convenience of a good mouse.

Small Printers

Professors increasingly accept assignments by email, but some still prefer paper. While your college probably offers printing services, such services aren’t always free or available 24/7. A small wireless printer fits neatly onto a dorm bookcase and quickly pays for itself.

Cooling Desks

If you’re a laptop user, a fan-powered USB cooling desk is a wise investment. A cooling desk allows you to work with a notebook on your lap without frying your thighs or overheating the machine.


Webcams may not help much with your studies, but they’re handy for staying in touch with family and friends back home. Point out the advantages of Skype to your parents and they might spring for a webcam just so they can see you. Just make sure you and your folks establish some communication rules before you leave for college, or Mom could be Skyping at inconvenient moments.

Laptop Locks

If you’re studying in a public place, you might not want to pack up your laptop every time you get up to buy a coffee. Leaving your laptop unattended in public is just asking for trouble, however. A portable laptop lock secures your laptop to desks or tables with a galvanized steel cable and combination lock.

Storage Devices

Imagine working day and night on a major assignment for a college course. Now imagine your laptop hard drive dying, destroying all traces of the assignment a day before the due date.

Backing up data is essential for college students. External hard drives are inexpensive, and their small size makes them easy to store in a cramped dorm room. Many students choose to back up data to cloud storage services, provided by either the college or independent companies.

Don’t overlook the importance of a USB thumb drive with a few gigabytes of memory. While too easily misplaced to act as a backup device, a thumb drive is handy for those inevitable times when you need to transfer files between classroom computers and your laptop.

Extra Laptop Batteries

Like remote keyboards and mice, an extra laptop battery can seem like an unnecessary expense when you’re counting pennies for coffee money. After all, you already have a battery and you can recharge it just by plugging in, but do you know how difficult it is to find an available outlet at a coffee shop? Competition for outlets is even more intense in a college auditorium or library study hall. An extra battery keeps you going, no matter where you are. When you’re searching for one to buy, make sure it promises 6–10 hours of battery life. (Master your mobile device’s battery life with these "5 Tips for Better Battery Life Management").

Besides, come springtime you might want to get out of the dorm to study under that big ol’ tree in the quad. Lovely though they are, shade trees lack electric outlets.

Laptop Bags

It’s not exactly a computer peripheral, but no college student should be without a sturdy and comfortable laptop bag. You’ll carry your laptop from class to class on a regular basis, so choose a bag that’s lightweight and ergonomic. A good laptop bag also has enough space for textbooks and other essentials.

With these nine must-have accessories, you’ll be ready for anything your professors can dish out. Except maybe noisy dorm mates, but even then, there are some excellent noise-canceling options available.

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