This is a guest blog post by Stella Louise, editor of the personal finance blog at Savings.com. She is very grateful she only had to suffer through one year of geometry.
I recently researched back to school supplies and was astounded at how much is required to properly equip a child for the new school semester. At the risk of sounding like my parents, when I was a kid back to school shopping mainly consisted of a brand new pair of shoes and some updates to the wardrobe plus a couple of notebooks and some pencils.
But as school budgets cuts have increased with the ailing economy, more and more of the slashed funding has been offloaded to external sources. This explains not only the increase of school fundraisers, such as the adorable third grader from down the street panhandling $5 chocolate bars door-to-door, but also the increasingly gargantuan back to school supply lists.
When I was a kid (and granted, this was EONS ago…), I recall having an art independent study class where I painted for the entire semester. Canvas after canvas using the entire spectrum of acrylic paints and brushes of varying width and thickness to create my “masterpieces.” I ended up being voted “Most Artistic” by my fellow senior classmates for the yearbook, but today’s student would be fortunate to even experience an art class much less free reign to use a seemingly unending amount of art supplies.
Looking at a typical eighth grade school supply list, I can’t help but wonder if many of the items are truly necessary:
- 12 – #2 Pencils
- 2 – Glue Sticks
- 1 – White Glue
- 1 – Pink Erasers
- 1 – White Eraser
- 1 – Pkg. Washable Felt Markers
- 1 – Pair Scissors
- 1 – Pencil Case
- 10 – Pocket Folders
- 2 – Pkg. Lined Paper
- 1 – Pkg. Plain Paper
- 4 – Lined Notebooks
- 10 – Blue Pens
- 3 – Red Pens
- 1 – Ruler
- 1 – Pkg. Pencil Crayons
- 2 – 1″ Binders
- 8 – Subject Dividers
- 1 – Scientific Calculator
- 1 – Geometry Set
- 1 – Pocket Dictionary
- 1 – Thesaurus
- 1 – Pencil Sharpener
- 3 Highlighter Pens
- 1 – Agenda Book/Student Planner
- 1 – Stapler
- 1 – Staple Remover
I went online and accumulated the contents of the list into a shopping cart and the total was almost $100! In most cases I chose the cheapest option and I wasn’t able to find a geometry set. As I recall, geometry was offered in grade nine so the fact that a geometry set is required on the supply lists for grades 8-12 is baffling. I only had to take it once and believe me, that was enough.
But I digress…
Of course many of these items (calculator, geometry set, ruler, scissors, pocket dictionary / thesaurus, stapler, binders) need to be purchased only once and therefore parents can expect some savings on school supplies as their student progresses.
But I’m scratching my head at a number of these so-called “required” supplies. I cannot recall ever needing glue sticks or white glue in junior high or high school. At least not on a daily basis. I’ve also no recollection of needing washable felt markers or “pencil crayons.” Yes, I spent a semester doing an art independent study, but by eighth grade I had advanced beyond coloring.
And why binders AND notebooks? Wouldn’t one or the other suffice? I remember having seven classes in school and only five required note taking.
It’s also interesting to see that the list includes a stapler and staple remover, but not staples. What good is a stapler or staple remover without staples? Then again, any stapling that needed to be done when I was in school was handled by one stapler used by the entire class.
Do you stick to the school supply lists provided by your child’s school or have you found them to be a bit excessive when it comes to getting your child equipped for the new school year?