I am starting my last semester of college (undergraduate at least haha)! It’s crazy. Here is my list of “back-to-school” items that I keep with me. I am not the most minimal, but everything I take with me is used all of the time.
Also keep in mind that I live off-campus and have to drive in every day. This means I have to have everything for the day with me. If you live in a dorm/residence hall, several things would be optional/not necessary to carry at all times. A few items are also major-dependent. This isn’t a “one size fits all” list, just what I happen to bring with me =)
- Backpack: Dakine 25L. It’s smaller than the old backpack I had which has saved my poor shoulders, and it has a built in cooler pouch which is great because I bring my food to campus!
- Mechanical pencils: very few times was I told to have a “#2” pencil. I usually have 3 in case one runs out of lead (this has happened many times) and one extra in case a friend forgets.
- Colored pens: usually one black, one colored, and one red. This helps me keep my planner organized. Pencil or Black pen for general things, colored for whatever needs to be a bit more defined, and red to mark important things like presentations, exams, lab practicals etc. You could be someone who color codes every class if that helps, but I find that as long as I have a red pen the most important things are covered.
- Planner: This is my life. no question. I do schedule things online using Google Calendar, but this is where I have everything written, including what assignments I have, and even my grocery lists. I have the Lilly Pulitzer Jumbo Agenda. I splurged a bit because this will act as my last semester planner, and my wedding planner once I graduate =)
- Large Sticky Notes: like 4x6in sized to put in as a to-do list into my planner. Often I’m so busy that I will plan out exactly what to study at a given time. I was also REALLY involved on campus and had multiple extracurricular commitments every day. I also make grocery lists during down time on campus.
- Calculator: This will depend on your major, but as an engineering major I need this every day. I have a TI-89.
- Safety Glasses: Again, this depends on your major, but I need these almost every day.
- Headphones: For the love of God, DO NOT forget headphones. It’s the worst.
- Notebook(s) and/or Binder(s): This will depend on your study style/learning style. I like having one big notebook that is divided into sections, or one large binder (if everything fits) divided into sections. Some people prefer a separate notebook/binder per class. It’s up to you! I’ve always found I tend to not forget anything if I have it all in one place.
- Mini Stapler and staples: My campus supposedly has staplers all over, but I find that majority of the time they are jammed. I’ve had a couple of asshole professors who won’t accept assignments if they aren’t stapled. I’ve been the class hero a few times for having this, and it’s definitely saved my butt countless times.
- USB: I try to back up any important files/project work because you never know what can go wrong.
- Water Bottle: Stay hydrated, and bring a reusable one.
- Tablet: this is optional but I found it helpful for answering emails. You could use your phone but the battery will die faster than you would believe.
- Phone charger: speaking of…..haha I bring a TINY usb charger. It only works with USB connection, and is about 5inches long. There are plenty of USB charging stations on my campus, so this works out great to save space. Keep in mind your school and what is available. Also, my tablet is charged by USB so it’s a double win.
- Books: Use discretion when deciding which books to carry around. Many you will not need in class, but some might be helpful. It definitely depends and use the first week or two to gauge which one’s you can leave at home.
- Food: Like I mentioned, my backpack has a built in cooler, and I prep my food at home and bring it with me because I live off campus and it save me a lot of $$. If you are living in a dorm/residence hall, you likely won’t need to do this.
- Car Keys: Again, I drive to campus. These often just get shoved into a pocket right away and are untouched.
It looks like a lot, but it isn’t I promise!