Sponsored feature, words by Russ Thorne

If you're going back to school or starting uni an open, eager mind (and perhaps clean underwear) is probably the most handy thing to take with you. However, there are lots of other useful things that can help you out, from PCs to sharp pencils, and if you're a student the good news is that they tend to be cheaper. HP, for example, offer up to 35% off for students, which is happy news indeed.

With that in mind, here are just a few things to consider adding to your bag when it's time to head off for the first day of term. (Your underwear choices are up to you.)


A laptop can be helpful in all sorts of ways. For a start you have guaranteed access to a computer any time – perfect for witching hour working. Plus, with more and more halls of residence offering excellent WiFi as standard you'll be able to create your study nest within easy reach of the kettle; no need to head on to campus.

Your laptop can also be handy for group study sessions at the library, or for running specialist programmes for your course (like Photoshop or music software). The trick to keeping costs down is to think carefully about what you need it to do: don't be distracted by shiny, but useless, features. If you're never going to play games, say, you probably don't need the higher spec graphics card and nineteen holo-sound speakers. Check out HP's range to get an idea of what's out there. HP recommends the Pavilion 11 x360 2 in 1 with Intel Inside and 15 months McAfee LiveSafe AntiVirus for the perfect balance of performance, entertainment and security.


A tablet can be the best study partner ever. They're light, portable and fast – all you need is a WiFi zone and you can access your school or uni's online learning environment, triple check that you absolutely, definitely handed that essay in, or keep up to date with your timetable.

Loaded up with the right apps, they become even more useful. Cloud storage programmes like Dropbox let you access your work wherever you are; Evernote is the shared scrapbook that makes group projects easier; while Google docs lets you collaborate on and update documents simply and quickly.

Plus, student life isn't all about study, so your tablet can help you keep tabs on social media, make music, upload photos of Fresher's Week (it's the only way you'll remember it later)...or Skype home when you're missing mum / can't work the washing machine. Check out a few options here– it doesn't need to come with a piece of fruit on the back to be a good buy.


There's a popular myth that printers were sent from a dark dimension to destroy us. It's not true, of course, but it's easy to feel that way if you're reliant on your uni print service or a library printer when time is running out. Not everything can be submitted electronically, so sometimes having your own ink slinger can really help you out.

A simple document printer can be really handy at coursework time, and with student discounts available from big brands like HP they can be even more cost effective. Don't forget to stock up on ink too – eco versions cost more up front but last much, much longer, which is great for avoiding those little stress veins on the side of your head on essay deadline day.


Nothing to do with a killer bag / shoes combo (although start of term style is important), this is all about the little things. That means the pencil case and notebook stuff, naturally – it's not a new term without a stationery binge – but also a few handy tech items that you might need.

For instance, you might want to consider a portable mouse or keyboard for your laptop or tablet, or a sturdy case to protect them. An extra charger can come in handy, too, and you never know when a USB stick will be useful.

Or there are the larger accessories: a backup drive to keep all your documents and pics secure in case your laptop gets damaged, for example. Or – slightly more fun – a headset or speakers to turn your computer or tablet into an entertainment system. HP can give you a few ideas to get started with.

Of course, it's the contents of your mind, not your rucksack, that will truly make you a good student – but a little help is always welcome. Flex that student discount, get kitted out and enjoy!