My Everyday Tools for Success in Grad School

Someone asked me what I use to stay successful in grad school. Honestly, it is mostly about getting enough sleep. But it got me thinking about the tools I use on a daily basis. 

I’ve compiled a list here of all tools and gadgets that I use on a daily basis to be successful in grad school. Some are high tech and some are pretty basic. Maybe one or two of them will be useful for you! 

Images link through to Amazon or the AppStore in case you want more info on something. This post may contain referral links (read more about them here).

Macbook Pro

It might sound a little melodramatic, but I could not survive without my macbook pro. Seriously. I carry it with me all the time and use it for just about everything. Some people say the Macbook Pro is overkill (compared to the Air or just Macbook) but personally, I think it is perfect. I never worry about running out of hard drive space, it is sturdy, and I can do everything from video editing to using special software for voice analysis.

Apple is expensive though. And even if you get an older model, it’ll probably set you back at least $1,000. 

That said, if I were buying a new computer that was not the pro… I would probably get the Macbook Air.

My iPhone

I use my iPhone for everything. I love having an iPhone since it syncs so easily with my laptop. Plus I have so many neat apps to help me with school (see below). Do I really need to go on and on about the wonders of the iPhone? Surely you already know…

Must Have Apps

App One: Scanner Pro

The ScannerPro app is so useful for scanning paper into PDF’s or other formats. It uses your phone’s camera, automatically finds the edges of the document, and will scan as a photo or document in color or black and white. You can also set it up to automatically sync to Dropbox, Google Drive, or any other cloud storage or you can just email it directly.

The best part? You can get it for $1 on the app store. 

FantastiCal 2

FantastiCal 2 manages my life. I’ve tried a lot of virtual calendars and planners, but I don’t like how slow it can be when I need to quickly add something to my calendar. That’s where Fantastical really shines. You can use natural speech to input things. For example I’ll type “Assignment 3 Due Tomorrow” or “Clinic Meeting every Monday and Friday from 1 to 2pm in March” and it will automatically add it to my calendar! There is a whole load of tips and trick that come with it, but you get the idea. It also syncs with your computer and tablet. It is a bit more expensive than most apps, but saving those precious seconds is worth it.

I admit: FantastiCal is pricey. The iPhone app is $4.99  and if you want it for your computer too (which I recommend) it is another $49



WhatsApp is sort of like texting…but better. You’re thinking “But texting is already easy…” Trust me – WhatsApp makes it easier. First, it runs off Wifi/Data so you’re never stuck without signal during class. You can easily share photos, videos, voice, your location, contact info, maps, etc. AND it makes group chats super easy – you never have to try and figure out who said what or who is in the chat or not. I have a group for my study friends to remind each other of due dates. I also have a group for my fellow clinicians to keep on top of paperwork. And it works across all phones/platforms without problems… even internationally! It is how I keep in touch with all my friends and family abroad. Oh and its end-to-end encrypted for privacy.

Oh… and you can download it for free. 


Just putting dropbox on your phone is kind of silly, the real beauty of it comes from syncing across multiple devices. I store all my current notes and projects on Dropbox. I can access them from my phone, library computers, or any other device if I need to. And it keeps my organized while providing a backup in case my computer dies. This post is more about how I use Dropbox.

Adorable Sticky Notes:

For the longest time, I was really resistant to the use of sticky notes. I thought they were bad for the environment and just not very efficient. Lemme tell you, grad school has changed my view completely. I stick notes in books, on articles with questions, and all over my house to remind me of things. These SLP themed ones are just especially adorable. 

They’re just $21 for 100 notes on each of 6 shaped pads!

Clipboard with Storage:

I started using a clipboard when I was a teacher, and it is so useful as a student and clinician. I take notes on it when my desk is too small. When I’m up and moving around the clinic or the laboratory, I always have a writing space. Also, I like to use one that has built in storage so I have a place to keep extra sticky notes (see above!), pens, data sheets, and scrap paper.

This one is only $9 on Amazon!

Coffee Mug:

A good coffee mug should really not even need to be mentioned on this list. I have a pretty extensive collection of coffee mugs at home and at my work space at school. And when I’m on the go, I usually use this great contigo Tumbler I got on Amazon.

It is pretty great and only $15


Stabilo Pens:

I color coordinate most things that I’m working on. The paper calendar I carry around, the calendar app on my phone, my notes in class, and just about anything else where I think it will help. I use these neat little stabilo pens to do most of it. They’re sort of like really fine tip markers; they write on every surface.

Buy a 20 pack for $13


I have long considered switching over to a portfolio or something slightly more professional, but I haul around so much stuff that nothing beats my giant, sturdy JanSport backpack.  

I got the big one for $43


I saw this little thing at the grocery store one day, and I fell in love with it. It is a mini crockpot to warm your lunch! I don’t think you can/should cook in it, but it is perfect for warming up leftovers! I just plug it in and about 20 minutes later, my lunch is ready to go! Often I’ll plug it in when class starts and by the end it is ready to eat. It is also really useful when you have back to back activities and no time to search for a microwave. 

But it and start eating warm lunch for $29.

What do you use?

So those are the

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