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Grad. School Supplies?


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After reading through all 23 pages, I think I've managed to compile the most salient (at least for me) and still relevant pieces of advice as far as grad school supplies  Laptop - While most peo

What was valuable to me: -1TB hard drive to back up to -Bookcase (you accrue a crap ton of books) -Scanner (why have a filing cabinet when you can have a digital one that takes up no space at all)

FWIW, I recommend: A set of blank correspondence cards from Crane and postage to send thank you notes. Purell and lots of it. Your sense of humor--most notably the ability to laugh at yourself. At

This thread is so much fun! It is getting me even more excited for the move! But like many, I am moving across the country and so I am wrestling with what to take, what to leave, what to buy...this move might be really really expensive!

I too get excited by the thought of a nice solid bookshelf! Practical and makes my brain say, 'OK, let's get started!' I've never had a big bookshelf for just me either so this will be fun! Now if only I can land an apartment and oh yes! Gotta get that plane ticket pronto!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have to agree with everyone who has mentioned external hard drives or flash drives. I HIGHLY recommend both. If you get a TA position, and if your department is like mine, you will be required to keep copies of all of your students' papers for two years (in case someone decides to challenge a grade, or if there are plagiarism accusations). To put this into perspective, look at my first semester as a TA: I taught comp 1, which requires five essays, ranging in length from 2-3 to 5-6 pages. Each student should therefore have written a minimum of 15 pages worth of essays. Multiply that by about 40-45 students. Now multiply that by four (semesters). Total: 2400 pages that I'm required to keep track of at any given time. Digital copies are a life (and space) saver. Flash drives are also good for running portable apps (portableapps.com), like office software, .pdf readers, web browsers, etc.

I also agree with the scanner idea, but, as others have already pointed out, you should wait to see if your department has one available for TA use. The English TAs at my school have their own computer/printer lab, with access to scanners, including a fancy one that automatically converts the scanned pages to a .pdf file, which is great for distributing digital handouts to students by email or through an online course manager.

And you should definitely get chalk and dry erase markers if you're going to be a TA. I learned very quickly that you can't count on the classroom to have a supply of them; people either take them or other instructors "borrow" them because there weren't any in their rooms either. For the chalk, you should also consider getting a chalk holder...it will save your fingers (and your clothes) from getting dusty, and it also cuts down on broken chalk.

Regardless, you should wait on the more "specialized" office supplies until you get to school. Your department may provide a lot of things for you. Incoming TAs in my dept. receive goodie bags filled with legal pads, pens, pencils, markers, chalk, staplers...all the basics that you could possibly need as a TA or student. Sometimes there are even flash drives or other more "techy" items in the bag.

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I'm curious if the cost of dry erase markers and a white board is really less to than the cost of 99 cent paper pads and penils... Anyone do a detailed analysis on this? I ask because I like to do alot of written problems and I'm not sure the best way to go about it...

On the one hand, a mounted dry erase board would be great practice for writing on a chalk board. On the other... you have to stand to do your work.

Edited by toypajme
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I also agree with the scanner idea, but, as others have already pointed out, you should wait to see if your department has one available for TA use. The English TAs at my school have their own computer/printer lab, with access to scanners, including a fancy one that automatically converts the scanned pages to a .pdf file, which is great for distributing digital handouts to students by email or through an online course manager.

I have been using my personal scanner for 2 weeks now to catalog papers from my MS and I LOVE it! At only $55 (shipped free and quickly from amazon!), it is well worth it for the convenience. It is light and powered off of a USB cable only, so totally portable...I envision lots of occasions where I will be taking it to the library to scan and not worrying about copy fees! This thing will pay for itself and allow me to work at home more easily. And, it comes with software that easily makes .pdf files (this doesn't seem fancy at all, but a standard requirement of scanners nowadays).

I totally recommend getting one. I researched this extensively and wanted something portable and that could do high-quality photos...even though I will eventually need a printer as well, I passed over many of the HP all-in-one devices because of reports of high price for poor scan quality. Here it is:

http://www.amazon.com/Canon-CanoScan-LiDE110-Scanner-4507B002/dp/B003VQR1UC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310695478&sr=8-1

Sorry for rambling, but I am so glad I made the investment and wish I'd had this during my M.S. program!

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This is a bit late for the shoe conversation bit, but I wanted to wholeheartedly endorse:

  • Born sandals (unless you're in lab of course, hah. But they're fashionable, insanely comfortable, and supportive).
  • Ahnu shoes (not quite "dressy" but nice-looking styles that look more put-together than an old pair of trainers)

I used to try to tool around on cheap flats and boots—NOT worth it! Gives me achy ankles and hips (though this is probably also because I over-pronate).

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this thread makes me so happy - to add my $.02, i think an insulated coffee carafe is completely necessary.

i'm not a coffee snob by any stretch of the imagination - IMO, coffee, like alcohol, does not need to taste wonderful, it just needs to fulfill its intended function. with that being said, i'm kind of obsessed with my carafe. imagine: i wake up early one morning to start a marathon day of working at my computer. i make a pot of coffee, drink a cup or two, then leave the rest in the pot. by noon, when i need another cup, the coffee from this morning is either cold or scorched. i throw away what was left, and start another pot. repeat cycle. huge waste of time and money.

for those with similarly undistinguished tastes re: your caffeine, peep the carafe i have through the link below - it keeps your coffee hot (and your caffeine-high maintained) for up to eight hours. fantastic.

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=126992

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this thread makes me so happy - to add my $.02, i think an insulated coffee carafe is completely necessary.

i'm not a coffee snob by any stretch of the imagination - IMO, coffee, like alcohol, does not need to taste wonderful, it just needs to fulfill its intended function. with that being said, i'm kind of obsessed with my carafe. imagine: i wake up early one morning to start a marathon day of working at my computer. i make a pot of coffee, drink a cup or two, then leave the rest in the pot. by noon, when i need another cup, the coffee from this morning is either cold or scorched. i throw away what was left, and start another pot. repeat cycle. huge waste of time and money.

for those with similarly undistinguished tastes re: your caffeine, peep the carafe i have through the link below - it keeps your coffee hot (and your caffeine-high maintained) for up to eight hours. fantastic.

http://www.bedbathan....asp?SKU=126992

You could also invest in a french press and save money on buying filters, plus only make a cup or two at a time.

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AND french press is TEN TIMES yummier than filter coffee.

::Homer Simpson voice:: Mmmm....french press....

Hm, I believe that Homer only says "Mmmmm" before something edible/drinkable ("Mmmm... Coffee...") - but I may be wrong :-P

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  • 3 weeks later...

For the non-coffee addicts, high-quality tea (from vendors like Adagio) and an electric water boiler like from Zojirushi are a must. I drank 4-5 mugs of tea a day while doing my MA in Seattle. The caffeine is a long, moderate high, rather than a sudden peak of energy followed by a crash. The level of alertness provided by the tea is much better for long periods of reading.

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A few weeks after my first semester in grad school started, I asked a visiting speaker (in a personal chat) what she did to make it through her first year of her PhD. She said, "I bought a comfortable reading chair and a very large bottle of vodka, and I made good use of both." I followed her advice ;-)

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FWIW, I recommend:

  • A set of blank correspondence cards from Crane and postage to send thank you notes.
  • Purell and lots of it.
  • Your sense of humor--most notably the ability to laugh at yourself.
  • At least one Moleskine notebook as a journal for venting.
  • A +1 rule for taking extra sweaters/jackets with you to campus so that you can make the transition from the outdoors to the often frigid temperatures of a classroom or a library without breaking stride.
  • Using the student discount rates for academic journals specific to your field of study, as well as to popular magazines of your choice that can provide moments for intelligent procrastination.
  • Waterproof shoes.
  • A television and DVD player.
  • A pair of noise cancelling headphones.
  • Splurging on a single item that will really provide you a measure of comfort and luxury, even if that item temporarily stretches your budget. The item can be a pair of shoes, the backpack you've always wanted, a nice outfit, a Gore-Tex jacket, a nifty pair of sunglasses, an air purifier, a portable A/C unit, or some minor consumer electronic device. The years ahead are going to have some trying and stressful moments. And in those moments, it will be the small things that help you rally in the face of a set back.
  • A reliable compact LED flashlight if not also a Fox 40 whistle.
  • A hard copy of the Chicago Manual of Style. (If applicable)
  • Hard copies of all of your software apps and computer OS.
  • Enough plastic hangers for all of your clothes. (The time you save not having to fold laundry will pay off in the long run.)

HTH.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

A Github account and git for distributed version control of your papers or other work? (You've probably already had this for a while if you're in a discipline that involves programming.) Or set up a Subversion repository on a remote server and use that for version control and backups of your work.

Either way, Dropbox for sure.

Edited by stefanbehr
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  • 5 months later...

What kind of laptop does everyone use/prefer? I'm a Windows kind of girl myself, but I'm curious what people find the most useful and effective. I'm shopping around for a computer that is lightweight, small enough to carry to school, but not so tiny I can't watch the occasional episode of the Daily Show in it. And preferably under $1000! (There are some awesome laptops out there for like...$1400...but that's 21/2 months of rent!)

So what works best for you?

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I've got one of the last-generation Macbook Airs, and I'm quite happy. I paid a little over 800 for it refurbished from Apple, and it's very lightweight, but still seems very fast for most of what I do.

Any heavy duty statistics or graphics work, I do on my desktop at work, so for a laptop I mostly want something very portable and durable.

I should add, everything else in my life (both home and work desktops) are Windows, but I found the MBA to be a great machine and a nice deal. I'm also slowly switching over since my advisor uses a Mac for everything, and staying compatible with him is really helpful.

If you want something slightly larger, there's the 13" MBA for $900 refurbished.

Edited by Eigen
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If you're only looking for utility, then I'd go with:

http://outlet.lenovo...es/4170xf1.html

Haha surprisingly you are not the first person to suggest that to me today :)

Since I will be commuting likely a half an hour at least to campus, I'll probably end up going for something a little lighter. Though to be honest, I don't think I've seen one of those in person for years so they may have gotten lighter? I don't know.

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For what it's worth, I recommend this espresso maker very highly. The inclusion of a milk frother is key; I like to do half milk and half Italian sweet cream creamer.

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/nespresso-citiz-espresso-machine-with-milk-frother-base/?pkey=cespresso-makers

Also, I am a fam of north face backpacks--I've never had one last so long; they are excellent.

Edited by Carousel
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