College 101: Backpack Essentials

Nervous about your first day of college? So was I! Even though it's been six years since I began my college journey, I still get nervous at the beginning of each semester. I guess it's the fear of the unknown. Not knowing what to expect, who you'll meet, and whether or not your professors are going to have the soul of natural teacher.

If you're wanting to stay away from the bad professors, my suggestion is head to ratemyprofessor. This is a nifty website I have been using since Freshman year. I have gotten great teachers by using this site! However, there are always a few that get good ratings, but cannot teach to save their life. So, use it objectively. And consult those who have gone before you. 

Now is not the time to panic, though. Especially over the little things. Undue stress rarely makes for an enjoyable semester, especially on the first day. Without the things you need, you'll be "up a creek without a paddle", as my mom likes to say. And that's putting it lightly. 

Being a 6th year college student majoring in History, there are certain things I have found that are essential in helping to get a good grade. Having the essentials for success in college is essential. No. Really. It is! It's imperative that you have a goal, a plan, stay focused & organized, and have fun. Most most of all, have fun!

Be Prepared--There's nothing worse than going into a class unprepared. It's better to be overly prepared than under prepared. You NEVER know what the day will hold and you want to do everything you can to ensure success! The good thing is this: it's really not that hard. (I'll go into detail in another post). But first, we need to talk about the essentials that need to have a permanent home in your backpack

Writing Utensils-- This part is a no brainer. Pens, pencils, and highlighters are good to have on hand throughout the semester and during study sessions (you'll be reading a LOT). I usually keep mechanical pencils, retractable pens, and an assortment of highlighters in my pencil bag. After all, you'll be taking notes, needing to highlight things in your textbooks....and syllabus. 

Notebooks--This is pretty obvious, but another must have on your checklist. I find it best to have at least one notebook per class. I have also found that having a folder for each class is helpful in staying organized, and for keeping assignments stored neatly. As the semester progresses, you'll get a better understanding of what materials you will need for each class. Although, it doesn't hurt to have extra! In addition to notebooks, I often keep a pack of loose leaf paper in case the professor gives an impromptu assignment (e.g. essay, quiz, etc) in class. 

Student ID Card--Always have this little baby on hand. Put it in your backpack or your wallet. Just always have it! Sometimes professors will require your student ID for tests and papers and you might need your student ID (if you have one). I will advise that when you get your student ID number that you memorize it, like, now! You'll also need it if you're going to advising, signing up for classes, switching majors, as well as getting in and out of your dorm (and if you have a key...remember that, too!).

Laptop--Even though I have used it for every class thus far, some of you may not need to use it as much as others. Plus, it's a pain to have to carry around and remember to keep charged. But, if you're like me, I usually have a couple hours between my classes, which is a great time to finish an assignment or do some research for a class (or two); sometimes I take a mental break and watch cat videos before my next lecture. Most college libraries have computer labs that students can access for free, but there's no guarantee they'll have enough. 

Chargers-- If you're going to bring your laptop and/or phone with you to class, don't forget to bring the chargers to the devices! Keep them in your backpack at all times. There's nothing worse than being in class or studying during a break and having one or both die on you. 

Headphones--Always have a pair in your backpack. Music has been a life saver for me! Especially when studying. When I am stressed out. Or when I need a moment to just "zone out" before a test. 

Snacks--If you're like me and have to have snacks on hand because of low blood sugar, or because you like to eat, pack healthy snacks. I usually pack my snacks. I like to use a plastic sandwich bag to put my snacks in because it's easy to store in my purse or backpack. The snacks I normally take if I am wanting to be cheap usually end up being: tortilla chips, carrots, pretzels, sliced fruit, or cheese & crackers. However, if wanting something less ordinary, grab snack bar. I usually go for KIND Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt,most CLIF bars, and if I want to splurge I'll treat myself to a Larabar Uber Dark Chocolate Turtle. If you choose to take a snack into class, make sure the snack you bring doesn't make a mess and isn't distracting. Be mindful of others, especially your professor, as he may not allow food or drinks in class (especially in Lab). 

Makeup & Hair--It could be that I don't have the time or because my skin only allows me to do it ever-so-often (which is almost never). And I almost always wad my hair up into a bun. But for those of you that find this a MUST in order to make a public appearance, don't go overboard. Pack a few beauty essentials and a compact mirror. Also, you might want to pack facial cleansing wipes for a mid-day pick-me-up or if you're heading to the gym after class. 

Clothing--If you have room. I usually leave my extra set of clothes in the trunk of my car. However, if your packing an extra set of clothes, pack according to schedule, freak accidents and/or weather. And make sure to have a retractable umbrella on hand! You never want to get caught in bad weather unprepared. 

This seems like a lot hitting all at once. It's not as bad as it seems, thought. I have carried more than that in my backpack before; so trust me, you can handle this. Just make sure your backpack is sturdy enough to handle the bulk of a minimum of 2 books, 2-3 notebooks, a laptop, water bottle, snack bars, and whatever else you might need! Oh...and if you can fit it in there, bring with you a pinch of perseverance, a dash of patience, and a heaping spoonful of focus


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