Welcome to the Freshman’s Guide to College series! This is the first part of the ten-part series I’m doing as college is starting up again! I remember how scary everything seemed in my first year at college, so to try and make the transition easier for you I’m going to compile all of the tips and tricks that I have learned over my 3 years in university so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes I made, and but have a much easier time of things instead. The first instalment is about back to school shopping!
I love back to school shopping!
There are so many things to choose from! The trick is to only buy what you need and save money by not buying too much.
First things first: always start back to school shopping with a backpack
I tried the whole book-bag route and it just didn’t work for me. I’m in psychology and I live off campus–I carry around about 3 books with me on a good day, sometimes up to 8 depending on whether or not I have a research project. If you really only need to carry around a laptop and a notebook or binder all day, then I would get a really nice book bag with a shoulder strap, like this one:
I’m not gonna lie, seriously considering getting it for myself this year. Even though I really don’t need it.
If you’re like me, though, and you’ll be toting around over 15 lbs of books and laptop every day, get a really good backpack. One with shoulder support and lots of pockets. This is a mistake that I made my first year–my backpack is OK, but I got it for $10 at a discount store, so I got what I paid for. Here is the one that I’m planning on getting for myself this year:
I love all of the pockets, and that there’s even space underneath to pack a yoga mat for a quick yoga fix between classes! Plus, this one’s on super sale right now! Get while the getting’s good!
Buy some great writing utensils
This one I didn’t really understand until this last year, but it makes all the difference. I’ve always been the person to get that giant 20 pack of bic’s pens for $5 at Walmart and then only use one or two of them before going out and buying a nice pen that I use the rest of the semester.
What I’ve found now is that 6 nice pens and 6 nice mechanical pencils are all you need for the whole year! And I journal, so if you only write for school purposes you probably only need 3 of each! Here are the kinds that I got last year and I’m getting again this year:
I love gel-ink pens. I find that they just glide on so easily! Here are my favourite mechanical pencils:
Then, of course, get some highlighters. You really only need two colours. I like to highlight key terms in one colour and key points in another, so that when I get Connor to test me on terms I can tell him “ask me all of the pink words” and he knows exactly what I mean!
I hate it when you highlight and it goes through the page, and these have worked pretty well for me in the past:
Of course, I’m also biased because they have a purple one 🙂 And I’m very partial to purple.
What some of my friends and I did last year to save money was buy one of these packages and then each choose our two favourite colours. We split them up in the nicest two-colour combinations (purple and green, orange and pink, blue and yellow) and then each chose! Since you really only need two, this way each of us spent only 1/3 on what we actually needed rather than the full price when we only needed a few.
Get yourself a great binder
Notebooks vs. binders is a never-ending debate. Some people love the notebook look and writing in them, and others swear by binders. I’m a binder girl for sure! I love how I can buy super cute dividers and then keep all of my notes in one place but organized. I don’t carry around extra paper, and when you get an assignment back it can get slotted right in there with the proper course. You can keep your syllabus for each course right in front of your notes, which makes keeping everything straight so much easier.
Organizers are key
There is nothing worse than realizing that you have a project due in 3 days that’s going to take you 5 days to write. And trust me–it happens to everyone. Having a method to keep your assignments and other activities organized, though, can make it much less likely.
My school hands out free agendas at the beginning of the school year, but I never find that they have quite enough space to write down everything I have to do in each of the little boxes.
So every year I treat myself to an organizer that fits my needs as a very busy student who’s also involved in multiple student clubs and church activities. The same company who makes the binder that I’m getting this year also has organizers, and you can get one that matches your binder! They have so many cute designs to choose from–I really can’t wait to get some this year! I think I’m going to get the binder and organizer in this pattern:
Freshmen: wondering what you’ll need for your first year at college? Check out this list here>>
Finally, get a nice pencil case and you’re good to go!
Depending on what type of backpack or book bag you got, you may or may not have a place to put your pencils and highlighters in the bag, so you might want a pencil case. Even though my backpack has slots for pencils, I still prefer to use a pencil case so that I can have it on my desk while I listen in the lectures rather than constantly bending down to get them out of my bag.
Here’s one that I think is super cute:
I’ve decided that I’m just going to give myself a budget and update all of my school supplies for my last year, and the navy pencil case above is definitely on my list! I absolutely love it! And it would go so well with the binder and the organizer, too!
So there you have it! Those are my must-have school supplies. Everything else is extra. If you only have these, you’ll be fine all year!
Do you think I missed anything? What are some of your favourite school supplies you get while back to school shopping? What could you not live without?
Enjoy this post? Check out the rest of The Freshman’s Guide to College:
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 1: Back-to-School Shopping
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 2: Choosing your Course Schedule
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 3: Saving on Textbooks
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 4: Making Friends
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 5: Roommates
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 6: Exams
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 7: Packing for College
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 8: Staying Healthy in School
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 9: Time Management
- Freshman’s Guide to College Day 10: Staying in Touch with Family and Friends