What Do I Need for College? My Backpack Essentials
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You’re probably wondering, “What do I need for college?!” right? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
When I first started college, I had no idea what materials I would actually need and use. Due to this, I thought it’d be helpful to share the materials and devices that haven gotten me through the past 3 years. I personally believe the things on this list are necessary for a successful college career, as they’ve helped me make the most out of my time so far.
What Do I Need for College?!
I am a firm believer in quality over quantity, meaning everything I have on this list is well-reviewed and isn’t cheaply made. This doesn’t mean that it’s expensive, though, which is the great part. It just means you’re getting a better bang for your buck and the quality of everything will make your life much easier.
Now let’s get to these college essentials!
First and foremost, you need a comfy, reliable backpack. With all the books, binders, and notebooks you have to carry around all day, not to mention your laptop, you need something that will hold up.
This JanSport Backpack has a lot of storage space and is a comfortable fit. It also comes in a variety of colors so it’ll fit any personality. There’s really no need to buy an expensive backpack when this one will get the job done for less.
This is one of the most important things you need to get you through college. End of story. Without a planner, keeping track of assignments, deadlines, and other important tasks is impossible, making it hard to succeed.
Ever since I’ve started using a planner, I’ve become more organized and on top of the things I need to do. Physically writing down what needs to be done and when really helps with remembering tasks and keeping up with them.
When it comes to choosing a planner, it really depends on how you like to keep yourself organized. In the past, I’ve tried the ones with only small sections to write on for each day and absolutely hate them. They don’t provide enough room to write down everything I want.
Therefore, I suggest getting either this type of planner or a bullet journal. They are both very different but are great ways to keep track of your schedule and assignments. I really like the layout and self-reflections provided in the Panda Planner. However, I like the flexibility of the bullet journal. Which one you choose really depends on what you like best, but I highly suggest investing in some type of planner!
Being an engineering student, a good calculator is a must. If your major also requires a lot of math work, you should choose the TI-nspire CX CAS Graphing Calculator. It will make your life 10000x better, I GUARANTEE it.
Some of the awesome perks of the TI-nspire CX CAS:
• It’s rechargeable, so you don’t have to buy any batteries! This is a feature I really like, as all I have to do is plug it in when the battery’s low. The calculator does come with a charging cable.
• You can create notes or upload documents to it.
• There are soooo many different math functions that this calculator can solve for you! All you have to do is choose the correct equation, input your variables, and you’ll get your answer. This is extremely helpful when you want to double check your work on an exam.
• You don’t have to use the insert button in order to add something you forgot! Simply select the line you want to fix, add in what you missed, and hit enter. My old TI-84 made me use the insert key to fix something and I hated it.
• And just overall, this calculator is so much easier to navigate and saves so much time compared to other calculators.
The few extra bucks the TI-nspire CX CAS costs over the TI-84 or similar is well worth it. You will not be disappointment, I promise. Especially once you learn all of it’s capabilities (there are TONS).
Obviously you need a laptop for college. I can’t personally recommend a specific laptop, as everybody’s needs are different. I’m not going to tell you an Apple product is better than Microsoft or Dell, because it all depends on what you need a laptop for. However, I highly recommend getting one that’s light weight, especially if you’re carrying around a ton of other stuff in your backpack. In addition, having a larger screen makes life so much easier, but if you have monitors as well, then it probably won’t matter as much.
Now that’s all the advice I have to give on laptops. Just do your research and get advice from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. A lot of sales people will try and push you on the latest and greatest or the most expensive, so try and consult someone you know won’t rip you off.
Having a designated place to store your pens, pencils, and erasers is handy. Otherwise, you’ll have to dig through your backpack looking for one. That’s where this nifty Lihit Lab Pen Case comes in handy. It honestly has more room in it than you could even imagine. You can fit all your pens, pencils, scissors, sticky notes, highlighters, earbuds, and more in there. Having a specific place to put all of that in an organized fashion is extremely useful and will make your life so much easier.
I don’t know about you, but writing is so much more enjoyable with a fine tip writing material. Everything looks nicer and it’s much easier to write in a small font. This is especially important for filling up those tiny note cards with equations that professors allow on exams. And to me, writing with fine tips is just more exciting! I know, I’m crazy.
Let’s face it: the tiny eraser on the end of your pencil isn’t going to last longer than a week. It’s the cold, hard truth.*insert laugh crying emoji*
But honestly, you’re going to need an eraser, and a good one at that. The amount of times you’re going to erase something is astronomical so it’s good to be prepared. Probably the most common erasers out there are these Staedtler Mars Plastic Erasers that come in a 4 pack. They will most likely last your whole college career and are a wise investment, as they’ll save your paper and yourself from trying to erase with a worn out pencil eraser.
When taking notes or reviewing for an exam, it’s important to use colorful pens. Otherwise, everything blends in, making important terms or equations difficult to find.
If you want studying and note taking to be easier, I highly suggest getting some colorful pens. They’ve made the dreadful processes of note taking and studying a bit more fun.
Five Star Multi-Subject College Ruled Notebooks are a saving grace. I bought some a few years ago and haven’t used anything else since. What I really like about these notebooks are the super wide pages, as they provide more space for taking notes or working out problems. They also come with built in folders which double as the subject dividers.
These notebooks also eliminate the need of one separate notebook for each class. Since they’re multi-subject notebooks, I use one notebook for one days set of classes and another for the next days classes. By doing this, I only need to carry around one notebook a day. This means the spirals of the notebooks no longer get intertwined and stuck together. Win!
Folders & Binders
As mentioned above, the notebooks come with built-in folders. While these are very nice for a few papers, they get full pretty quickly. Due to this, I recommend buying just a few separate folders to store extra papers in. These Five Star Folders with Pockets are my favorite. Since they’re made out of plastic and not paper, they’re less likely to rip and tear, meaning they’ll last a lot longer.
In addition to folders, having binders for specific classes is necessary. I mainly use binders for math classes and my fluids class I just took. If you use graph paper or print out a lot of class notes, binders are very beneficial for organization. You really don’t need anything special, but you want them to be large enough to fit all your notes and materials in. Due to this, I recommend these basic 1 1/2″ binders.
Index Cards & Case
Any class that requires memorization of terms, phrases, definitions, equations, or anything similar means you need some index cards.
When creating flashcards, we physically have to write down whatever it is we’re trying to memorize. By writing it down, there’s a greater chance of learning it, as opposed to just reading it out of the book over and over again. This is part of what makes flashcards such a great study tool.
Another perk of using flashcards for studying is how compact they are. Since they’re so small and easy to carry, they can be taken anywhere and everywhere, making studying more convenient.
To make storing flashcards easier, try this index card holder case. It prevents the flashcards from getting bent and has 4 different dividers, which is handy when there are flashcards for multiple subjects.
College is expensive and eating out for lunch every day is a great way to drain your bank account. Instead, I recommend buying this Built NY Neoprene Lunch Tote and bringing your own lunch. The shape of it makes for easy carrying and allows it to fit nicely in a back pack. I always bring my own lunch and have saved hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars doing so. You should, too!
Staying hydrated is essential for your health. Instead of buying bottled drinks throughout the day, I highly suggest buying a Hydro Flask. It’s THE greatest vacuum insulated water bottle on the market. Your drink will stay cold literally all day and warm up to 6 hours. And to make it even better, it comes in a variety of sizes and colors, with a bunch of different options for lids.
Ever since I bought my Hydro Flask, I’ve been drinking twice as much water as I did with my Nalgene. The straw lid makes me drink even more. Trust me, always having cold water at your fingertips makes water more enjoyable. This in turn makes you healthier!
For all you germaphobes out there (or really anyone that doesn’t want to get sick), hand sanitizer is a must! You can get small 1 ounce containers with a little carry case to attach to your backpack or purse. Or, you can just get the small 1 ounce container and keep it in your backpack. Either way, it’s a smart thing to have, especially on a college campus. It’s something I never leave home without.
Well there you have it – my top college essentials. I hope they suit your needs just as well they have mine!
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