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It is so important to have the right college backpack essentials accessible to you whenever you need them. College students carry their backpacks with them everywhere, so the best way to make sure you have everything you need is to put it in your backpack.
In college, you won’t spend as much time in your room as you think, which is why you should carry the essentials with you. I often leave to go to class in the morning and don’t return until after dinner, taking my free time in the afternoon to go study in the library.
Be sure to buy a durable backpack with tons of space for all your notebooks, textbooks, and more. I also recommend getting a backpack with a laptop sleeve, which is specifically made to protect your laptop. My current backpack is from The North Face, and has lasted me three years already.
Now, let’s get on to all the college backpack essentials you must carry with you at all times.
A laptop is the most important college backpack essential you should never leave your room without. Nowadays, all your school resources are available online. This includes course websites, online textbooks, and homework platforms.
I recommend a laptop over a tablet because it’s easier to type and has a more powerful hard drive. Most of what you’ll be doing online for school requires a browser, which operates much faster on a laptop than a tablet. Plus, the laptops they make now are super light and easy to carry.
Laptops can be pretty pricey, but a good-quality computer will last you all four years of college. I personally love my Macbook Air because the interface is easy to use and compatible with my iPhone. You can get a discount on an Apple laptop through the Apple Education Store by verifying your student ID, and they’re even throwing in a free pair of Airpods.
Notebooks or Binders
Most people prefer notebooks to binders because they take up way less space in your backpack. However, if you have a teacher that gives you a lot of handouts in class, a binder can be helpful to have.
Single-subject notebooks are better than 3- or 5-subject notebooks because you get more paper and only have to take what you need to each class. Also, you can color code each notebook to match a specific class, which makes it easy when scrambling to pull it out of your backpack.
I recommend getting an extra notebook to do homework in, that way you won’t be clogging up your notes with random homework problems.
A planner is a great way to stay organized in college by keeping track of all your assignments, tests, and club meetings. It can be hard to remember exactly when things are due, so writing it down is essential to making sure you don’t forget!
I was never a person who used a planner in high school, but after starting college I’ve been converted. I use the weekly pages to write down daily homework assignments and the monthly pages to write down really important dates such as exams or interviews.
The Blue Sky planners, which can be found at Amazon or Target, are super affordable and come in tons of cute colors and patterns!
Don’t be that person who always has to ask for a pencil. Plan ahead by keeping all the writing utensils you need in your college backpack. Here are all the things I keep in my pencil pouch.
- Mechanical pencils. Don’t waste time sharpening a wooden pencil and opt for mechanical pencils instead. If you take notes in pen, you’ll still need a mechanical pencil for multiple choice exams.
- Black pens. Some exams will require you to use a pen for the free response section, so make sure to keep a couple on hand.
- Colored pen set. For color-coding your notes, planner, and study guides.
- Eraser. Those tiny erasers on mechanical pencils don’t get the job done.
A graphing calculator is useful in so many different subject areas. I’ve used mine in my chemistry, biology, finance, and accounting classes, on top of my math classes.
Even if you technically could use a four-function calculator in some cases, a graphing calculator is way easier to use. It has more functions and a bigger screen, so you’ll be able to see if you make a mistake and fix it.
My graphing calculator broke in the first two weeks of college and I ended up splurging on a TI-Nspire (which was totally worth it), but the more affordable TI-84 works just as well for non-math majors.
This is a college backpack essential you don’t want to overlook. There were so many times when I forgot to staple my homework together ahead of time and had to turn it in with just the corner folded over. That was a HUGE risk because if your homework gets lost, your professor will assume you never turned it in.
Don’t make the same mistake as me and keep a mini stapler in your backpack for all your last-minute stapling emergencies.
OTHER COLLEGE BACKPACK ESSENTIALS
Chargers are something that every student needs to carry in his or her college backpack. You never know when you’re going to run out of battery, so it’s important to keep all your necessary chargers on hand.
I keep my computer charger, an extra phone charger, and my calculator charger in the front pocket of my backpack at ALL times.
Most people use headphones to study as the noise can be pretty distracting if you’re in a crowded place. You might also need headphones for some classes, especially those dealing with computer programs.
I even keep an extra pair of headphones (literally just the ones that Apple gives you) in my backpack for emergencies. You definitely don’t want to be stuck without headphones the next time you’re studying in the student center, so an extra pair doesn’t hurt!
Reusable Water Bottle
Stay hydrated and save money by using a reusable water bottle! Somehow I ended up spending over $100 last semester buying Smartwater… which was a huge wakeup call to invest in a reusable bottle I’d actually want to use.
Hydro Flask and Yeti water bottles are super popular right now and definitely worth the investment. They keep your water ice cold, even sitting in hot car all day (speaking from experience). Make sure to get a bottle with a big mouth so it’ll be easier to put ice in.
Instead of avoiding certain foods in the dining hall, keep a travel-sized toothbrush in your backpack! You won’t have time to go back to your room between classes, so brushing your teeth is a quick way to freshen up. This isn’t something I use every day, but it has certainly been a lifesaver plenty of times.
Research has shown that chewing gum can help improve your memory, but I also just like to chew gum. I find that chewing gum during class helps me stay focused and suppresses my appetite when I’m trying to make it through that one class right before lunch. Try to steer clear of sticks of gum that will melt in your backpack and opt for the hard-shelled type instead. I always keep
The weather can turn when you lease expect it, so stay prepared by carrying an umbrella in your backpack. An umbrella is a great solution for those days when you’re not sure whether or not it will actually rain. If you bring an umbrella, you don’t have to wear a rain jacket and rain boots, which would look pretty silly if it ended up being a sunny day.
It is so hard to prevent yourself from getting sick in college, so eventually you’ll need to have some tissues on hand. That way, you can deal with your runny nose in class instead of going to the bathroom. Although you don’t have to ask to leave class to use the restroom, you will miss valuable content and could cause an unwanted disturbance.
Similar to the travel toothbrush, floss picks are a backpack essential that will save you in an emergency. We all know that food has a way of getting stuck in your teeth, even if you eat super carefully.
You never know when you’ll get something stuck in your teeth right before you have class with that cute guy, so do yourself a favor and throw some floss picks in your backpack.
A granola is the perfect between-class snack, packed with protein and other nutrients to keep you sustained. Keeping a bar or two in your backpack will also save you money by preventing you from resorting to the vending machine when you get hungry.
I love the lemon Luna bars because they don’t get all melted and messy like other chocolate-based bars do. I also buy Larabars from time to time, which I love for their clean ingredients.
Lip balm is the ultimate backpack essential I could never live without. If you’re a chapstick addict like myself, I recommend keeping more than one in your backpack, as they seem to easily go missing.
I’m currently obsessed with Smith’s rosebud salve, which you can purchase in stores at Urban Outfitters, Sephora, or Anthropologie if you don’t want to buy it online.
Hand lotion is an absolute must during the winter months. When it’s 20 degrees and windy outside, my hands tend to get super dry on the long walks to class. Save your hands by using hand lotion, drinking plenty of water, and wearing gloves in the wintertime!