College Tips: The Best Things To Carry In Your Bag
All of the things I list are from many years of heavy academic experience, so even if some of these things sound less vital I would totally recommend that you check them out! After all, school isn’t just pencil and paper anymore.
Tip #1: Find the best bag for you.
So, this one is obvious, but if you’re an avid academic student such as myself, you’ll probably not want to carry around one of those aesthetically cute, but terribly impractical backpacks you might find at your local Target. No, as much fun as it would be to wear a small, light backpack that also looked cute, it’s not going to help your academic journey whatsoever. Especially if your campus is large.
The point is to be the most practical as possible.
And so, you probably won’t always find the most practical bags at normal stores, which is why I like to scour Amazon for the best options. Sometimes they can be more expensive, but you have to remember that the more expensive it is, it will probably last longer. Of course we know that’s not always true, but a majority of the time it is.
Though many will be plain, some backpack brands can surprise you and have a few different color palettes. The best kind of backpack will have enough space for books. And we’re not talking about ones with all the little pen sleeves. If you’re a person who likes those, that’s awesome! But I’ve never found them to help at all. I move fast, unpacking and packing up when in class. I like simplicity.
Then, there is the matter of support. Having a backpack full of books, pencil & pen cases, papers, a computer, phone and computer cords, etc., can begin to hurt a serious amount when trekking around campus. You might look like a hiker-fanatic, but better the large size and heavy straps than a measly, thin bag that gives you no back or shoulder support. Trust me, I walked around campus with three bags last year. And only one of those was my backpack. The other two were for my lunch and the rest of the books I couldn’t fit in my backpack. It was not fun. Thus, in the nicest of ways, follow the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Sweetheart. I won’t call you stupid because that’s just not kind.
Something I plan on doing this year is buying a computer-type bag. If you’re taking a lot of classes and don’t have enough room for all of your books — and just don’t want to carry it while wearing nice clothes — then take the professor route and get a rolling bag. I think that it will greatly improve my posture, as well as limit my shoulder pain. It’s just not fair to carry around thirty pounds of school material. Every. Single. Day. So, I recommend making it 10x easier!
Tip #2: Buy a sensible pencil/pen/office product pouch.
Below, I have taken a screenshot of the one I bought at the beginning of last school year so that you can look it up for yourself! I have to admit, it has worked extremely well.
I bought this exact Navy Blue one. That little pocket on the very front fits my iPhone, and might fit your phone if the width isn’t much larger than the iPhone 7. Inside, there is a zipper pocket where you can fit sticky notes, paper clips, page tabs, etc. And like you see on the side, it can lie flat or expand to fit more than a handful of pens, pencils, and even a small pair of scissors. This is my top pick for a school-necessities case. The point is to find something that can fit your usual tools.
Tip #3: You’re a student, so get the best writing tools possible.
You want lasting ink and a nice smooth tip? Buy a couple packs of G2s. Goodness, these are the best pens out there. The next time you’re at Target or Walmart, buy yourself some. They’re overall good to have on hand. I feel like this might be intuitive, but maybe that’s just because my parents have always bought them and kept them around the house. Most G2s are only black ink, except for the few packs that have five or six extra colors.
So, what do you get when you want colored pens? Buy yourself a large, 16 pack of Paper Mate gel pens. These will save your life if you’re a color-coder like myself.
Pencils is our next writing tool, and still I go back and forth between brands. It really depends on your personal taste. I like to use the Bic brand. One good thing about them is that you can buy multiple and keep a big stash for a long period of time! I haven’t run out of them this year, and actually don’t need to go shopping for more this year.
These Xtra-Sparkle Bic mechanical pencils have stronger lead, which is why they’re my first choice. But…
I like these too. Knowing myself, I don’t believe I press too hard when writing. I’m someone who writes in printed and cursive font, so the angle of the lead sometimes breaks. It’s frustrating because it can be really weak at extremely unnecessary times or when you’re trying to take quick notes, but I still like to have them on hand just in case. Plus, if you keep the lead short, it will break less often.
I keep the Xtra-Precision just in case I need to share them with someone (and that person isn’t considerate enough to remember and give it back to me at the end of the class). Am I mean or relatable? Um, I think both. I may have high standards, but returning pencils is not a high standard to have. C’mon people. You’re just going to lose it anyway.
Bic is definitely my first choice brand for pencils, but sometimes I revert to the Paper Mate mechanical pencils just to see if I like them better. Usually, I don’t end up liking them as much, but it’s nice to have them as “fancier” versions. That’s a very rare occurrence, though. At least you know they’re there if you want to try something new.
Tip #4: Keep a zipper or bag for your personal grooming.
This goes for all people. Having a type of grooming kit on hand will never be bad. For instance, a Music student such as myself has to practice and work through the day, just to go to a group practice or performance in the evening. In order to look clean, calm, and collected, it’s best to have some of the necessities with you:
- Chapstick and/or lipstick.
- A comb or brush.
- Floss and edible mint chew or drink of some kind.
- Perfume or essential oils (the right amount must be used. And I mean, must be used or everyone will silently loathe you from the bottom of their souls because you smell so strong. Like, thank you for wanting to smell better than that strange “outdoor smell” people get when walking outside for too long, but please consider my nose when you decide to spray twelve pumps of Axe, Bath and Body Works, or OldSpice. Music Directors will give you the stare of death for sure if you become a smelly distraction at practices and performances).
- Deodorant. Remember when I talked about perfume? Yeah, it’s not a deodorant replacement. Bring both, please. Your pits and friends will thank you.
- And if you have your car with you or are close to your living quarters (house, apartment, dorm), it makes it way easier to keep a new set of clothes to change into.
Tip #5: You have to contact all sorts of people. Why not keep a planner or contact list?
We are adults now. There are department heads, professors, financial planners, and countless other important individuals we need to continually contact throughout the semester. The best way to stay on task and have access to those contacts is to keep a planner with you. Now, I’ve never used the contact list in the back of any planner before, but I have written down on multiple different sheets the contact information of many individuals in the past. So, why not keep them all in the same place?
At this point, we’re nearing the end of summer and for me, school starts in two weeks! What a rush. There are so many people to contact, so many names to keep in the back of your mind, and a very lengthy list of tasks to check off in order to have a smooth semester. Thus, when you get the syllabus, highlight the professor’s info. If you have a phone call with a really helpful financial planner, add their name and phone number. If you have an academic planner, stay in touch with them through email. Even if you’re just saying “Hi” or “Checking in,” it’ll be good to keep tabs. The happier and more impressed they are with your efforts, the quicker any process can be. Don’t think of it as playing people. Being efficient is not bad, and in the moment you’ll be rewarded with friendship or at the least, courtesy. They want to make a good impression on you, too!
Now go out there and succeed, my fellow learners. Make this year extraordinary.
All my love,