Summer's dwindling down (although it's still ridiculously hot outside) and it's time to start thinking back-to-school shopping. But in addition to new clothes and school supplies, there's also plenty of electronics and gadgets students will be clamoring for. While I don't think every student needs, say, an iPad to start school, there are a few things I would recommend you pick up before classes start:

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    External Hard Drive

    As a student in the digital production field, most of my assignments consist of taking various movie and music files and combining them into something new. These files are BIG, and there's no way your average 2 GB Flash drive can hold all of that. But even if you're not making movies and other multimedia projects, an external hard drive will have more than enough space to store all of your assignments, as well as all your photos, music, and videos. And it's much harder to lose a hard drive than it is to lose a tiny little Flash drive.

    miss karen, Flickr
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    Take a look around Texas Tech in between classes sometime. I guarantee at least three-quarters of the students walking around will have some form of headphones in their ears with their iPods or MP3 players blaring. If you're gonna listen to your music at school, you might as well get a good pair of earbuds to enjoy it. And just a personal recommendation: I'd get earbuds instead of headphones. Headphones, while they usually provide better quality sound, are kind of clunky to carry around and much more expensive than earbuds.

    gojeffery, Flickr
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    Portable Power Pack

    I love my iPhone. But to be honest, the battery life on it sucks. And the fact that I use it for just about everything (music, E-mail, texting, etc.) doesn't help matters much. That's why I'd like to get a portable power pack. Just plug it in to your iPod, phone, or whatever device is running low on juice, and it gives you tons more battery time. It's also good for people like me who don't live on campus, but have a lot of downtime between their classes.
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    Laptop Lock

    Let's face it, not every student is going to be an upstanding citizen. There are folks out there who will steal your laptop at the first chance they get. that's why I'd recommend getting a lock for your laptop. This lock will secure it to the table and comes with a heavy-duty combination lock leaving your laptop safe from thieves and leaving your mind at ease.
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    If you don't have one, you're definitely gonna need one. Laptops have become just as vital a school supply as notebooks or pencils, particularly for the college set like me. Now, there's a lot of options out there for laptops, (so much so that I could write an entire entry on them alone) so I'll just offer these tips. If you're gonna get a laptop for school, I would choose one that is lightweight and has a long battery life. Also, look for laptops that have a lot of memory and hard drive space.

    Ed Yourdon, Flickr