What to Carry in a Backpack for College

In college, your backpack is kind of like your home away from home. Wait… that’s your car. So, your backpack is like your car away from your car. Which is your home away from home. See where I’m going with that? 

Backpacks are really important. They hold everything that you may need as you voyage out into the day of trekking across a wet or hot or cold campus (uphill both ways, of course)! As you spend more time in school, you’ll really determine what your must-have items are. 

Here are the ones that I suggest! 

1. Mechanical Pencils

I love mechanical pencils because they have the benefits of a pen but they’re also erasable. I NEVER EVER try to color code my notes or make them pretty in class (learned that my freshman year). I simply write my class notes in pencil and rewrite them in a pretty way when I get home!

2. Black or Blue Pen

Carrying around a black or blue pen is just part of being an adult. You never know when you’ll have to sign something / turn it in… and it can be a little embarrassing when someone tells you they can’t accept something written in pink ink (true story from my life). 

3. Planner

Obviously! I never go anywhere without my planner

4. Stapler

I like having a tiny stapler (in a pretty color, of course). It makes me feel really put together when everyone is lining up to use the classroom stapler and I just whip out my own at my seat. Bonus: Pink staples! 

Purse Organization + Essentials

5. Water Bottle & Snack

Getting dehydrated can be really easy for college students. In order to be your most effective self, make sure to eat and drink consistently every day! It sounds so easy, but it can be challenging, especially towards the end of the semester when things get busy!

6. Textbooks (obvi.)

When you’re walking around campus, it’s super important to bring along those textbooks! And I prefer plain, old, paper textbooks over digital books any day! Just think of all the muscles you’re building by carrying them around! 

Back to School Shopping List

7. Notebook

I used to have an individual notebook for each class (partly because I just hoarded pretty notebooks and hoped they could be used in the future). However, I have really come to love having ONE notebook with different sections for each subject/class. 

OR if you can’t find one with enough different subjects for each class, buy notebooks and use them based on day. For example all of your M/W/F classes in one… all of your T/R classes in another. 

8. Class Folders

I have a really streamlined folder system. I would suggest buying one 2-pocket folder (that you think is really pretty) for each class. Inexpensive and doesn’t take up a lot of room in your backpack!

9. USB Drive

This is super essential for college! I do NOT love to carry my laptop around campus, so I would just have everything on my USB drive and use the school computers. 

10. Post-It Tabs

LITERALLY THE BEEEST! Instead of *highlighting while I’m in class, I flag any pages my professors say are important and revisit them later! This also makes making study guides a breeze! 

*You’ll notice I do NOT have highlighters on this list. That’s because I think that we get too excited and either highlight things that don’t need to be highlighted or highlight things inconsistently. I bring a mechanical pencil to class with me and write notes in the margins. I save the highlighting for studying at home so I know it follows a specific system. 

Here is my system for highlighting: Effective Ways to Highlight Your Textbooks

Welcome to Organized Charm, where the author has strong opinions on highlighting 🙂 

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What essentials to you have to have in your backpack? Leave your list below! 

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