Back to School Necessities for Graduate Students

Back to School Necessities for Graduate Students

It’s back to school season! I’m entering what is hopefully the last year of school ever in my life as a student, so I’m actually embracing the start of the school year instead of rolling my eyes like I normally do. A lot of back to school sales are geared towards kids or new college students, but what about graduate students? Just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we don’t need new goodies to kick off the school year too! Since I’m starting the 23rd grade (my goodness gracious ?), I figured I would share some back to school necessities for graduate students. Obviously you’ll want to stock up on pens (where do they all disappear to??), and make sure your computer is in good working order, but here are five things you should put on your graduate student back to school shopping list.

Plaid Blazer, Gucci belt, Ripped Gray Jeans, White Mules, Senreve Maestra

Graduate Student Outfit

One: An Elevated Backpack

My favorite part of back to school shopping used to be getting a new backpack! Although I love a good tote bag for school (this one is my go to), I think it’s important to have a chic backpack to distribute weight so your shoulders survive grad school as well. I’ve been using the Senreve Maestra for over a year (here’s my initial review), and love that it converts from a crossover handbag to a backpack to a shoulder bag. It’s definitely an investment, but it’s basically three bags in one so worth it in my book. Plus comes in a lot of different colors so you can still have the thrill of choosing your fave color backpack! I found a near exact $30 dupe, but I’m also sharing a few more chic backpacks options if the Maestra isn’t your style.

Two: A Planner that Helps Get Stuff Done

One of the best ways to crush your school year is to stay organized, and one of my top tips for getting work done is staying organized with planners that go beyond pretty pages and motivational quotes. I’m a huge fan of the Productivity Planner because it encourages you to organize your tasks for the week by importance, and commit a certain amount of time to each task per day using the pomodoro technique. It’s also pretty affordable and super sleek!

Three: A Crossover Blazer

Blazers are always a good look, but they are a must have for graduate students. Have a presentation in class? Throw on a blazer over a blouse and jeans. Heading to a conference? Wear a blazer with tailored pants or a skirt. Going to brunch with your friends? Wear a blazer with a tee and ripped denim. You definitely need a black blazer, but try adding a patterned one and a colorful one to your closet as well.

Four: Wear Everywhere Black Jeans

Just like blazers, black jeans have been my go to clothing piece for many graduate school activities. You can definitely wear regular jeans to class or social events, but whenever you want to look a bit more polished without pulling out slacks, sleek black jeans do the trick. Look for a pair that are straight legged versus skinny, like this pair that I’ve worn just about once a week since I bought them.

Five: Comfortable Heels

I love a good pair of sneakers or flats just as much as the next person, but whether you’re presenting a poster at a conference or standing for your oral exam, you’ll need a pair of heels with a sturdy base. You don’t have to go super high, just say 2-3 inches, and you can get a block heel for additional comfort. They were obviously a splurge, but my Jimmy Choos are actually very comfortable, and are my go to for almost every graduate school event that requires a heel. I’m planning on picking up a neutral block heeled shoe as well (these ones may be my Chapter 2 completion gift)!


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  1. Love the $30 dupe! Just what I didn’t even know I needed. Your blog is very well written & organized. Thanks for sharing your journey. ? N’neka

    1. Thanks so much for reading N’neka! And I’m kinda upset about the dupe because it looks EXACTLY the same and woulda saved me a lot of money! But I hope you enjoy it!

  2. This is a great list, Ijeoma! I especially like the bagpack/tote bag combo. I’ve definitely been the tote bag type for a WHILE, but might actually go ahead back to bags now!
    And yay to your 23rd (and final ?? year). Have an awesome time!

    1. Thanks so much Omolayo!! I’m a tote convert too (actually still often carry my Madewell Transport tote) but I’ve been more mindful of back & shoulder pain so I try to balance the weight when I’m carrying a heavy load with a backpack!