So, I’m definitely the “mom” of my friend group. From waiting up for the “home” text from my commuter friends late at night and driving my neighbor to the pharmacy to get a prescription filled, to baking cupcakes for a classmate who had a rough week and video calling my best friend overseas to tell her bad jokes when her roommates are being jerks. Lately, I’ve even become the kind of “mom” who carries my entire life in my purse.
Yep. It’s a black hole.
My purse is also usually my backpack as well, since it is large enough to fit a couple of books and my laptop.. though sometimes I do switch back to my favorite old green floral backpack for a comfier fit.
Is it super windy out and you need lotion? Sunglasses? A snack? You know who to ask. I’ve got you.
All jokes aside, I’ve recently gotten a couple of e-mails from incoming college Freshmen (congrats btw!) with some questions about college life. One of which being, what should I keep in my backpack and carry to class?
So, I took a look in my bag… removed everything in it that was even slightly ridiculous (seriously, there’s 3 different containers of breath mints, a package of skittles, 2 cough drops, a package of advil, and gummy bears…) and narrowed it down to the top 9 things that you should carry in your college backpack.
And hey, it was also a great excuse to make me clean out my bag. Here goes:
I believe that it is always good to keep a little money on you at all times in case of an emergency.
By emergency I of course mean those mid-afternoon Starbucks cravings… just kidding.
But really, it is a pretty good idea to either have a small amount of cash or a credit/debit card with you in case something comes up. Especially if you are commuting, you need to have your drivers license on you.
I personally am not a big fan of carrying around a large wallet with me at all times so I have a super handy phone case that keeps 3 cards in the back, readily accessible to slide out at any time. I keep my debit card, driver’s license, and my school ID in the case. This is seriously helpful since I live on campus so I use my school ID for everything from getting into my dorm to paying for meals.
This is pretty self explanatory. Car keys, dorm room keys, house keys… all things you shouldn’t forget.
I get random urges to go take study breaks in the library or Starbucks, and I know I’m not the only one who focuses better while listening to music. Whether you use them to focus on work, to block out the world around you, or even just to make yourself look busy so people don’t bother you those are all valid reasons to carrying headphones or earbuds around.
If you have a laptop or tablet, I highly recommend bringing them with you to class. Even if you don’t take notes the same way I do, there will definitely be times when you will want to use your electronic devices during class.
Doing a group research project? Need to send an e-mail to an adviser? Have to download a handout from your professor’s website? Prefer to have the PowerPoint downloaded in front of you instead of all the way in front of the class? Exactly why having a laptop or tablet is handy.
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5. Flashdrive / USB Drive
We’ve all been there. Forgot to print an assignment in the library but the Wi-Fi is down? Stick it on your flashdrive and run to print it before class.
I run a radio show at my university so I constantly have a flashdrive in my bag to transfer my music around as well.
Overall having a flashdrive with you is just a good backup just in case something goes wrong.
Even though I take notes primarily on my laptop, I still make it a priority to carry a notebook to class with me. There are so many assignments where the professor asks you to “take out a scratch piece of paper..” that I just can’t risk not being prepared.
7. Pens & pencils
Gotta be prepared. If you like to color code or highlight make sure you have a handful of your favorite markers or highlighters with you at all times, but besides that just make sure you have at least one pen and pencil in your bag.
Some people don’t like writing with pencils, and I totally understand that, but if you’re given a pop quiz you don’t want to be the one person begging everyone around you to borrow and extra pencil for the scantron…
I’ve shared before how I use two planners, one big one and one small one, to keep my life together. My bigger one has much more room to write, so I combine my jobs, clubs, classes, personal life, homework, appointments, and so much more all in one place.
However, when I’m going from class to class, I don’t want to have to lug that big thing around so I have a smaller lightweight simple planner that I use to jot down class assignments only in. Then when I get back to my room I quickly copy it over into my bigger planner and get on with my day!
9. Trail Mix
I have hypoglycemia so I know that when I start feeling bad throughout the day its because my blood sugar is low and I need to eat something to kick it back up. Trail mix is the perfect snack for this for me. The protein from the nuts in it also helps to keep me going throughout the day.
Other on-the-go snacks that I recommend: Luna bars (or any protein bar that you like!), M&M’s Crispy, a mandarin, candied pecans.
Download the Checklist
Want to make sure you don’t forget to toss anything in your backpack? I’ve created a simple and perfect checklist to take care of exactly that.
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What is one thing you can’t leave behind?