You might think that since you’ve been carrying a backpack for the past 12 years of your education, you already know what you should pack in there for college. But let me be the first to tell you that classes and instructors in college are a lot different than they were during your primary education.
For the most part, you are now considered an adult, and as such, your professors aren’t going to cater to you or remind you to bring certain things to class. Many of them won’t even keep track of whether you even show up to class. So, to be a functioning independent adult, there are a few universal items that you’ll need to keep handy in your schoolbag.
1. Student ID: Your bright white smile combined with wit and charm may have gotten you through high school, but you’ll need your student ID now to access many on-campus facilities such as the cafeteria, library, fitness center, and bookstore to name a few.
2. Class schedule and syllabi: Again, many of your professors are not going to remind you of what is due and when. It’s up to you to stay on top of your class schedule, testing milestones, and assignment due dates. Your syllabi will also provide details and the grading rubrics for each assignment.
3. Notebook: Yep, an old-school notebook will be your best friend in some classes as many professors still do not allow the use of technology in their classrooms. Notetaking was necessary during your previous years of education and will remain so in college.
4. Pens, pencils, and highlighters: Whether you need a #2 pencil to fill out your testing Scantron sheets or highlighters to color code notes on handouts, having a supply of different writing implements will save you from the embarrassment of being “that student” who has to ask the teacher to borrow a pencil.
5. Laptop: Although some instructors won’t let you use it in class, having your laptop can be fruitful for those classes with instructors who do allow their use. Already having it in your backpack also saves you from having to return to your dorm room if you want or need to use it between classes.
6. Water bottle or coffee travel mug: Whether you fill it with water, juice, Gatorade, coffee or tea, having a container with a lid to hydrate from is essential. Based on what classes you have during different times of the day might determine your beverage of choice, but simply having something available to drink throughout the day will help keep you awake in class and save you money by not hitting up the vending machines every time you get thirsty.
7. Headphones/earbuds: Sometimes you just don’t want to hear all the noisy distractions of the outside world. Headphones can help with tuning out so you can focus on your work. They also make a great deterrent for those chatty classmates you don’t really feel like interacting with.
8. Phone and charger: Yes, this one is kind of a given considering no red-blooded American goes anywhere without their phone anymore, but it’s still good to mention it. Not only can you surf the internet and socialize during your downtime, but your phone can serve as a scientific calculator, assignment tracking schedule, research assistant, and so much more. Leaving home without it as a college student could cause you more than a few headaches.
9. Relevant books and materials: Kind of self-explanatory, but if you have assigned textbooks or reading materials and handouts, make sure you keep them in your bag so you can easily access them for your classes.
10. Comfort items: This one is entirely optional and preference based, but keeping items such as snacks, chewing gum, chapstick, tissue, or deodorant can make a long day of classes a bit more tolerable if you don’t have to worry about the little things like hunger, B.O., or bad breath.