Back-To-School Essentials: Medium’s Vetted Shopping Guide

Back-to-school season is here and with it, a big list of things to do — and buy — before the new school year begins.

The new school year is on the horizon, which means that the inevitable shopping rush is too. And while the prospect of filling up your cart with fresh back-to-school supplies, backpacks, sneakers and more might sound fun in theory, it can be overwhelming (and time-consuming) to track down each and every item on your lengthy list.

Here you’ll find our top picks for every stage of learning, from items for your preschool- and elementary school–aged kids to middle school, high school, and college essentials.

Whether you’re searching for the best kids glasses to help them see the board, the smartest tablets for homework help or simply a high-quality water bottle to keep them hydrated throughout their busy days, we’ve got you covered for this semester and beyond.

For The Kiddies and Highschoolers

BIC 4-Color Original Retractable Ball Pen

The four-color pen lets you choose from four ink colors (black, blue, red, and green) with a simple click. Ideal as school supplies for color-coding copy and organizing notes, this BIC pen has a 1.0mm medium point.

BIC Glide Bold Retractable Ball Pen

BIC Glide Bold Retractable Ball Point Pens provide a super-smooth writing experience. This pen features proprietary Easy Glide System ink technology that delivers smooth, consistent ink flow — making it the Smoothest Pen in the Universe! Each pen comes equipped with a 1.6mm point that makes bold, vivid lines and a rubber grip that provides comfort and control as you jot down notes, write letters, or doodle. This ballpoint pen has a convenient retractable design that allows you to extend and retract the tip with a single click.

High Sierra Curve Backpack

The High Sierra Curve Backpack ($19.99) is ideal for students of all ages and comes in an array of colors that has something for everyone. Those who like a pop of color can opt for the vibrant Summer Bloom/Fuschia color and those who prefer it muted can go for the classic Black. This backpack also comes equipped with a large compartment for computers and binders and a smaller one for the more important, accessible items.

Osprey Arcane™Large Day

Perfect for high school and college students, the Arcane Large Day is quality crafted with certified recycled fabrics that are made to endure daily use. A large J-zip front panel, padded internal laptop sleeve and streamlined low-profile water bottle pocket keep everyday essentials organized.

CISE: Vegan Leather Backpack

Finding the perfect backpack for all your needs can be tough, but look no further. The CISE Vegan Leather Backpack (Black) has arrived and will be essential to your every day and traveling needs. A piece to hold all the items you will ever need on a daily basis, even your laptop. Not only can it be worn as a backpack, it can be carried from the top handles too. True luxury made with vegan leather. This bag has no contenders. Look good. Feel good. Do good.

High Sierra Joel Lunch Kit Backpack

High Sierra Joel Lunch Kit Backpack ($27.99) is the perfect two for one bag for students. The matching lunch box has the perfect fit in this backpack so students are less likely to forget their lunch at home!


Sunnies play as hard as kids do and are made to fit their smaller faces, meaning no more stealing yours, or Mom or Dad’s! The polarized lenses have 100% UVA/UVB protection, and the arms have anti-slip material to keep them in place, making these a must-have for all kids’ outdoor adventures.

To reflect the vibrancy of the wearer, Sunnies are available in fun prints and bright solids (and shoppable on Amazon!) and are sure to put a smile on kids’ faces. 😊


Get ready for incredible back-to-school savings with Gap Kids’ Fall 23' collection! As they bring you unbeatable value without compromising on style or quality, ensuring your little one’s step into the new school year with confidence.

This month, gear up for Back-to-School season with items from $10, making it easier than ever to refresh your kids’ wardrobe for the upcoming school year. Enjoy 50% off on ALL UNIFORM items, ensuring your little scholars look sharp without breaking the bank.

Their uniform collection proudly offers inclusive size ranges, including Husky and Plus sizes, while prioritizing the planet. From polos, pocket tees, to cardigans, each garment is meticulously crafted with sustainable materials, seamlessly blending style and environmental responsibility. Moreover, our khaki bottoms are part of the Washwell program, exemplifying our dedication to sustainability across the entire collection.

Barefoot Dreams

Elevate back-to-school comfort and style with Barefoot Dreams youth apparel. The collection offers cozy and fashionable clothing designed for active young minds, ranging from plush hoodies and cardigans to soft joggers. Parents and kids alike can embrace the new school year with confidence, knowing they’ll experience warmth and luxury with Barefoot Dreams. High-res imagery is available upon request.

BOBS from Skechers

Get ready to head back-to-school in the easy-wearing BOBS from Skechers™ BOBS B Extra Cute — Dapper Brunch. This casual design features a dog print canvas upper with a pull-on style with deco laces and a cushioned Skechers Memory Foam™ insole.


Navigating the world of homework with children can be a challenging and patience-testing endeavor for any parent. Whether it’s deciphering math problems, editing essays, or designing visually appealing projects, the struggle to keep up can leave parents feeling overwhelmed. All-in-one design and visual communication platform Canva can alleviate this stress and be a valuable resource for parents seeking to support their children’s academic success.

Parents can make the most of Canva’s templates and design tools by creating custom study templates in their child’s favorite colors or themes, colorful presentations they can create on their own with animation and music to help their work stand out, and building a color-coded study schedule to pin to the fridge, or digital flashcards for at home test prep.


AI-powered grocery and recipe delivery service, Hungryroot, helps cut back on time and money spent shopping by bringing healthy, quality groceries straight to your doorstep with the click of a button. All you need to do is complete a quick and easy online quiz, and Hungryroot will fill your digital cart with grocery items and corresponding recipes that best suit you and your family’s needs, preferences, dietary requirements, etc. With 2-in-1 recipes, ready-made offerings, and quick air-fryer meals, plus a kid-friendly filter option, Hungryroot is the perfect solution for busy parents this back-to-school season.

Ocean Spray Snack Medley

Available in three delicious varieties, Cran-Blueberry™, Cran-Pineapple™, and Cran-Mango™, Snack Medley is an ideal and convenient choice for any time a quick and satisfying snack is desired at school.

Snack Medley is now available to purchase at Walmart stores nationwide and will be in additional grocery retailers this summer, including Kroger, Meijer, HEB, and Stop & Shop.

Angies’s BOOMCHICKAPOP: Sweet & Salty Kettle Popcorn Snack Bags

A perfectly sized whole grain bite for all on-the-go snacking, Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP packed up favorite popcorn flavors into snack bags to toss into your bag. You’ll be glad you have extras on hand!

For The College Students


Society6, the online marketplace that offers wall art, home décor and lifestyle goods from over 400,000 independent creators — plus, they’re offering up to 25% off sitewide until end of August for their Back-to-School Promo Series!

Shop the brand’s backpacks, notebooks, laptop sleeves, wall art, tapestries, art prints, and MORE at their BTS Shop.

BIC Gel-Ocity Quick Dry Gel Pens

The BIC Gelocity Quick Dry Gel Pens are ideal for note-taking, journaling, and a variety of other everyday writing activities due to the smooth, smear-free, quick-drying ink that dries in as little as 5 seconds. Available in a variety of vibrant ink colors, these gel pens are sure to leave a fun, striking impression.

BIC Color Cues Pen Set

The BIC Color Cues Pen Set comes in 10 vividly happy colors for limitless self-expression: blue, red, green, lime green, purple, pink, turquoise, orange, gold, and teal. This pack of Color Cues pens includes the legendary BIC Cristal ball pen, the world’s best-selling pen.


With summer coming to an end, the next thing on our ‘to-do’ list is getting back to school. With fashionablephone accessories and protective cases, back-to-school doesn’t have to mean boring!

From crossbody chains and beaded phone wristlets for busy students on the go, to phone cases and ring stands to keep your phone safe and stylish, Case-Mate’s stylish accessories are sure to turn heads in the classroom this school year.

Elevation™ Plus Softside Backpack

When it comes to Samsonite, there are many elevated and classy picks that are great for the back-to-school season, including the Elevation™ Plus Softside Backpack ($119.99). This bag boasts a minimal aesthetic and even has a holder for your AirTag™ device and a laptop pouch to protect your electronics. This backpack comes in Midnight Blue, Cypress Green and Slate and the practicality of this piece can’t be beat!


Global accessories brand, Eastpak and sustainable essentials brand, Colorful Standard have teamed up for their first-ever collaboration. The goal of this limited edition collection is to combine Colorful Standard’s expertise in sustainability and vibrant flair with Eastpak’s reputation for creating lifetime-resistant products, creating a one-of-kind collaboration.

Privé Revaux

Back to school is on the horizon and celebrity-loved eyewear brand, Privé Revaux, is the ultimate accessory to ring in the new school year. With blue-light blocking lenses in a variety of silhouettes and colors, you’ll be able to protect your eyes while never sacrificing a stylish outfit this school year. Privé Revaux’s blue lights protect from harmful blue light and UV rays emitted from screens, digital devices, artificial lights, and the sun. Unlike many blue-light lenses that look yellow, they’ve created a version that is virtually transparent — giving you all the protection you need with a crystal-clear view.

HomeGoods: Back to Campus Shop

The Back to Campus shop is fully stocked and our HomeGoods Style Experts — Jenny Reimold and Ursula Carmona — are ready to help you prep for an amazing school year ahead.

“As the mother of two students in college, I have spent the last four years styling apartments and dorm rooms for two very different personalities. My daughter, a rising college senior and sorority member, created mood boards and shopping lists for the fall…before the spring semester had even ended. While keeping college essentials, like small storage consoles and beaded lamps, she has changed her bedroom style from Boho to Coastal Grandma,” said Jenny Reimold.


IKEA U.S. is known for its storage solutions, which makes it a one-stop shop for the best tips, tricks, and insights to help make any college living situation feel like home. Below are some of the most popular IKEA storage products that are perfect for college life.

Echo Show 15

Reimagine how you stay organized, connected, and entertained with a personalized smart display that helps keeps you on track and in sync.

The 15.6” full HD screen(1080p) — largest size available — is designed to be mounted on the wall but can also be displayed on your countertop with a stand accessory. Customize the home screen with Alexa Widgets, including your shared family calendar, shopping lists, sticky notes, recipes, your compatible smart home devices, and more.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

Knowing how to relax is essential to academic success, and there are no better devices suited to weeknight cool-offs like the Roku Streaming Stick 4K. It’s super easy to use with an intuitive remote and comes Dolby Vision and HDR ready, making it one of the best streaming devices. And because it’s so small, you can take it to a fellow student’s dorm, or on a holiday visit home.

OXO Good Grips Sweep & Swipe Laptop Cleaner

A great way to ensure that your pricey electronics lasts from freshman year through grad school is to keep it pristine. This double-sided brush sweeps dirt and dust from laptop and computer keyboards, smudges from televisions and monitors, and even polishes up tiny charging ports in all matter of electronic devices.


With Back to School season here P&G’s sustainable home cleaning & personal care brand offers high-performance, solid, single-dose cleaning products for the home and body — from toilet cleaner to laundry detergent, to hand wash and more. Their patented Functional Fiber technology enables EC30 to pack trusted powerful cleaning ingredients into lightweight dissolvable swatches that are 100% waterless with minimal, plastic-free packaging.

EC30’s formulations power through any back-to-school clothing stains, simplify bathroom clean up and make handwashing so much fun!

Febreze AIR

Envelop your senses and de-stress with Febreze Air Effects Downy Calm. With its notes of creamy vanilla, delicate florals, and warm sandalwood, you can wind down and breathe in your happy place.

Lysol® Multi-Surface Cleaner, Brand New Day

Lysol’s Brand New Day line offers the perfect products for your upcoming weekend clean refresh! The collection features 7 products in 2 scents — Coconut Water & Sea Mineral and Mango & Hibiscus.

Lift Multi-Surface Cleaner

Perfect fit for all of your cleaning needs! This biodegradable and non-toxic formula is all-natural and free of chemical agents, providing superior cleaning power that’s ideal for indoor spaces and can be used on a variety of surfaces (including fabric) to remove stains and smells.

Plus, this innovative cleaner is gentle on the skin and guaranteed to not cause skin irritation or damage, providing exceptional cleaning capabilities while supporting the health and well-being of every person and community it touches.


Kicking off with their best-selling dish soap and hand soaps, Cleancult’s products are formulated with clean ingredients and packaged in 100% recyclable paper-based refill cartons to pair alongside chic resuable dispeners. From Wild Lavender, Lemon Verbena and Sea Minerals, these new scents will leave your home (and hands) smelling heavenly, while also reducing your plaste waste by 90%!


The colorful Vertuo Pop+ is available in eight colors to choose from — a machine that perfectly complements any college dorm, most stylish Vertuo ever. The Vertuo Pop+ is our smallest, and most affordable Vertuo ever that can brew five sizes of coffee and comes in an array of fun colors. This small machine offers big taste and more counter space. Deluxe models feature chrome accents and a larger water tank (32oz).

Y3.3 iperEspresso Machine

Y3.3 is the easiest way to enjoy the authentic illy taste. With a range of capsules and its adjustable cup shelf, you can make a perfect espresso or an aromatic brewed coffee with a single machine. The clean, minimalist lines of Piero Lissoni’s design make the Y3.3 easy and intuitive to use. The innovative iperEspresso capsule system makes café quality espresso with ease Unlike conventional one-stage systems, the iperEspresso capsule system uses a, patented two-stage process to create intensely aromatic, full-bodied espresso with rich, long-lasting crema. And the capsules make for quick and easy clean up. The Y3.3 iperEspresso is offered in black, white, red and blue.

Ninja Speedi Rapid Cooker and Air Fryer

Hot plates and microwaves are so last century. The Ninja Speedi Rapid Cooker and Air Fryer is a pressure cooker, high-powered oven, and even a standard hot plate in one space-saving appliance. It’s our favorite air fryer for its unmatched performance and versatility and is equally well-suited to making everyday meals to heating up freezer snacks for weekend guests.

Retro Electric Kettle and 2-Slice Toaster

Just in time for heading back to the dorms, and perfect for those living in small apartments, or anyone just looking to add a pop of color into their kitchen, you can now purchase these two morning routine staples for the incredible bundled price of $69.99 — exclusively at Costco. The Retro 2-Slice Toaster features two extra wide toasting slots, perfect for sliced breads, bagels, waffles, English muffins and more with six browning settings! Quickly boil water up to 1.7L of water in under 7 minutes with the Retro Electric Kettle’s powerful heating system, handy for tea, coffee, oatmeal, hot chocolate, & more. Both appliances have the classic look and feel of the old days, but with modern functionality.

GOODLES Variety Pack

GOODLES is the perfect no-sweat meal for back to school! This nutrient dense mac & cheese includes protein, fiber, and prebiotics, is a Low Glycemic Index food, and has 21 nutrients from plants and fewer calories so parents can feel good about what their children are eating. Their variety pack, which includes classic flavors such as, Cheddy Mac, Shella Good, Twist My Parm, and Mover & Shaker has something for all ages (even parents)! Taking under 11 minutes to prepare, GOODLES is great for a quick-packed lunch or nutrient-rich dinner.

Hot Pockets Deliwich

When it’s your job to wake-up early for those morning classes, every minute counts! NEW DELIWICH sandwiches from Hot Pockets are the ultimate win-win for you. These thawsomely portable sandwiches can be thawed OR heated. So, you’ll be ready to satisfy your hunger, anytime and anywhere. Pack it for lunch or take it to go. This 2023 Product of the Year award winner, is ready to eat when you are!

Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery

Silver Hills’ Omegamazing Bread just launched its new Omegamazing loaf. The all-new sprouted whole wheat loaf is made with whole and ground flax and chia seeds, offering both a delicious and hearty crunch as well as a better-for-you nutrition profile, including 400 milligrams of Omega-3 ALAs per slice. Each slice of Omegamazing also offers 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.

Terra Delyssa

Terra Delyssa is leading the way in olive oil production innovation, addressing the challenges posed by climate conditions and water scarcity. As major olive oil-producing countries like Spain struggle to meet consumption demands due to low yields, prices have surged, creating a global shortage.

Terra Delyssa’s approach to maintaining a steady supply of premium extra virgin olive oil is exceptional. By cultivating their trees in low-density groves, with 45 feet spacing, the roots can delve deep into the soil, efficiently sourcing water and vital nutrients. This natural method eliminates the need for excessive irrigation and ensures the resilience of their olive trees.

Uncompromising quality is a hallmark of Terra Delyssa. Their commitment to excellence has been recognized with a gold award at the renowned New York International Olive Oil Competition 2023. This accolade attests to their dedication to delivering exceptional taste experiences even in the face of challenging climatic conditions.


This innovative drink is scientifically formulated to ensure the perfect balance of carbohydrates and electrolytes for faster absorption and replenishment to help you bounce back quickly and keep you fueled for whatever the school year may bring.

CELSIUS Cosmic Vibe

Prepare for possible close encounters with your own ultimate alien invasion starter pack, and equip yourself with CELSIUS Cosmic Vibe. With an out-of-this-world taste of sparkling fruit punch, this intergalactic-inspired flavor is perfect for hosting your own alien-inspired gatherings and energizing yourself for late-night UFO sightings.



The New York Exclusive by Editor Tony Bowles

Tony Bowles is one of the youngest sought journalists in the media world. He focuses on lifestyle, travel, entertainment, food, and more! Based in New York City