Freshman 15: What's in My Backpack


In high school, I knew exactly what I needed each day. My classes were the same. I usually came home at the same time each day. So, it was easy to pack my bag knowing that tomorrow would likely follow the same schedule. Once I got to college, I had different classes and activities depending on the day of the week and thus made more decisions about how I would spend the day (i.e. would I go home or to the library after dinner?). In turn, what I carried in my backpack changed on a daily basis. 

This year, I left my room prior to my first class of the day and usually would not return until later that night. I did most of my studying at the library and would often go there or to Starbucks between classes and after dinner. Because I was spending such a significant part of my day away from my room, I needed to be smart in packing my backpack to ensure I would have everything I may need for the day. 

My biggest tip for packing your backpack is to do so the night before and think about your day ahead. What's on the schedule? Do I have chapter or a meeting I will need to pack an outfit for? What will I study when I go to the library? Will I have time to run back to my room before [insert event]? Thinking ahead can be a huge help in ensuring that you are prepared and won't forget anything on your schedule.

There are some staples that I carried in high school that I continue to carry now. But, I did make some accommodations for longer days outside of my dorm room. While of course everyone has their own necessities, here are the items I kept in my backpack at all times:

Laptop: Easily my most used item in my backpack! I used it in almost every class, and I never left my room without it.

Agenda: My day-to-day schedule always looked different. Between classes, meetings and to-do lists, I always had my agenda with me to ensure I was in the right place at the right time and was not forgetting any assignments or other tasks.

Pencil pouch: I usually kept a plethora of pens and pencils along with a few highlighters in my pencil pouch. Whether I was writing notes in class or annotating in the library, it was great to have this on hand at all times.

Notebooks, folders, etc.: Some like to just take notes on their laptop, but I am a big fan of handwritten notes. I usually had a notebook and folder for each class and would switch out which I carried depending on my classes that day. I would recommend thinking ahead and if you plan to spend time studying away from your room, be sure to pack any study materials for other classes you might need.

Water bottle: Staying hydrated at all times is important, and especially in the Alabama heat! I used my Swell bottle and always filled it up before meals or at other locations on campus. 

Umbrella: Weather in Alabama can be unpredictable and truly changes on a day-to-day basis. I kept an umbrella in one of the side pockets of my backpack at all times. It's lightweight, and you never know when it might choose to downpour! 

Snack: During second semester, you could almost always find me in the business library until the late hours of the night. I liked to keep a granola bar or some Gold Fish in my backpack as a late night snack so I didn't have to leave and interrupt my studying simply because I was hungry.

Sweatshirt/sweater: The Alabama heat is intense, but so is the air conditioning indoors! I often would go from sweating to shivering, so keeping a something I could pull on was a must.

Smaller necessities: Post-It notes, phone and computer chargers, headphones, lip balm and sunglasses were all items I kept on hand in the smaller pockets of my bag.

I found spending a few minutes preparing for the next day saved me stress from not having what I needed and lots of extra steps for running back to my room for things I had forgotten.

What are your backpack necessities?


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