Why do my nightmares look like bills for college supplies?

If there’s one thing more exciting than the first day of college, it’s shopping for it.

Getting your hands on your favourite notebooks, buying tons of pens that you’ll lose halfway through the semester (definitely not talking from personal experience 😉) and skimming through the latest textbooks to see what’ll keep you up at night all year long — oh, what a time!

Cartoon characters buying books.

Since most Humber College and University of Guelph-Humber students are currently in the process of buying last-minute supplies, we decided to look back on our past.

Here’s what it was like shopping for school supplies in high school—and what it’s like in post-secondary.


Man looking shocked while reading a book.

Remember the ample supply of free textbooks you got in high school?

Well, not anymore. While high school provided free books, you’re expected to buy them in college or university—and they can cost anywhere from $200 to $2000!

For that price tag, these books had better contain the meaning of life.

Notebooks and laptops

Man working on multiple laptops.

Heading down to Walmart or Dollarama to buy a bunch of notebooks is a school life ritual that just cannot be forsaken.

Unlike school, college doesn’t require you to have a notebook for each subject. Your laptop will do the trick for you.

And, while computers are usually available to borrow on campus, you might need to get your own because many Humber and UofGH classes are still being taught online. Lucky for you, you may be able to score a student discount through Best Buy or Apple.

Extra equipment

A man shows a hammer and goggles while another man watches by.

High school, with its limited technical learning, had little-to-no use of extra equipment. (Unless, you know, a geometry box counts.)

Anyways, back in the day, most of the equipment you needed was provided in class.

But in college or university, you’ll need an “equipment” section in your budget to ensure you don’t miss any essentials. And, based on your program, you might need to buy extras like software, kits and lab tools.

There are some free and discounted software options on the college website, and Humber students have free access to Microsoft 365, but—still—shopping for supplies in post-secondary can be daunting. And that’s especially true while on a student budget.

Woman saying, "Don't worry. We got you."

But, don’t worry, ‘cause IGNITE’s got you covered!

IGNITE’s Learning Essentials Support (LES) program helps cover the cost of your program’s essential learning items—from $50 to $500 per academic year.

The learning items covered include—but are not limited to:

  • Equipment (e.g., uniforms, tool kits, cosmetic kits)
  • Software (e.g., MyITLab access)
  • Training & Professional Memberships (e.g., suicide prevention training, SoundScan membership)
  • Experiences (e.g., final projects, field trips)

To quality for LES, you must be a current full-time Humber or UofGH student registered in a program with essential learning items. If that’s you, you can apply by logging into your MyHumber account and selecting “View Available Scholarships”.

For more information about LES, please download the Learning Essentials Support FAQ

School supplies shopping may be tougher after high school. But, thankfully, IGNITE’s got your back.

What else is different after high school? It’s way tougher to meet people. Here’s how to spark conversation with anyone on campus.

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