First things first, I just want to talk about my bag. This is the Vera tote by Vera Bradley and can be found here. What's great about it is that it is HUGE and has a bunch of little pockets that can hold pens and pencils, gum, and all the little odds and ends that you may need throughout the day. The only downside is that you have to carry it on one shoulder, which can hurt your back while you're walking around campus. If you can find a somewhat large backpack that you like, then that will work just as well!
1. Notebook - I use a 5 subject notebook for all of my in-class notes and notes on any reading assignments for class. This keeps everything contained and I don't have to carry around five huge binders for all of my classes. It keeps things more organized and compact, which I like.
2. Folders - I have a folder/pocket for each of my classes where I keep any hand-outs and the class syllabus to review. It's not shown in the picture, but a few years ago I came across this epic folder contraption that has 6 pockets and tabs for each one that you can label. I have used it religiously throughout my six years of college. Whether to organize course assignments, a big project, or my club meeting information, it has been really useful and compact which is awesome! This is the closest thing I could find to how mine is designed.
3. Laptop/Tablet - Carrying around a laptop all day long can get very tiring, especially if yours is bulky like mine is. If you have a smaller/lighter laptop or if you have a tablet, I would suggest carrying that around in your backpack. I know that I rarely ever carry my laptop around because I take notes in my notebook and if I need to use a computer, I will just use one in the library. This will save your back and it will also save you from worrying about it getting lost or stolen.
4. Flash Drive - I cannot tell you how necessary having one or two flash drives on your person at all times is. I literally store both of mine in my wallet ... that's how important they are to me and how much I use them. You can save everything you need on them ... class assignments, applications, student club materials, stuff from home ... everything. They can plug into any computer, so if you are working at one in the library, you don't have to worry about losing everything you've worked on!
4. Gum - Sometimes you just want fresh breath and something to chew or keep you focused on your school work and not on your growling stomach!
5. Snacks - I'll have a post about this tomorrow, but having some quick snacks tucked away in your backpack can be a lifesaver. Personally, I have forgotten my lunch at home so many times, so having those back up snacks in my bag have been so great! Tomorrow I'll be talking about my favorite snacks to pack in my backpack and keep with me while commuting!
6. Water Bottle - Whether the water bottle is empty and you plan to fill it up in the dining hall or if it is a plastic one from the store, you should always have a water bottle with you. You never know when you're going to get a cough in the middle of the day or get a headache and just need to hydrate. You should always have water with you to keep you hydrated and able to focus on your day!
7. Pen, Pencil & Highlighter - This one is rather obvious, but if you are going to be in college, you need at least three pens, a pencil, and a highlighter so that you can take notes in class, prepare reading assignments and presentations, and do some group projects. I say you should have three pens because last week, literally all, but one, of the pens I had died on me in the middle of a three hour lecture -- so when it comes to writing utensils, the more the merrier!
8. Post-it notes - I love post-it notes but they definitely help you stay organized when you are working out of a backpack. You can add them to your notebook, your agenda, or your phone to remember something when you get home. They are super useful and don't take up much space!
9. Small purse - This could be just a little pouch or wristlet that contains the following items: chapstick, lotion, a hair-tye, tissues, money, your wallet, and band-aids. If you are a guy and don't feel all of these things are necessary that is fine, but I would definitely suggest having chapstick, some money, and your wallet in your backpack. Chapstick is obvious - if you're walking outside constantly in the elements, your lips are bound to get chapped. The money and your wallet is also obvious, you never know when you are going to forget your lunch or dinner and you need to buy something from the cafeteria or something from a local restaurant.
10. Agenda and Idea Notebook - Both of these are my personal preference, but you should definitely have an agenda in your backpack so that you can stay organized on what assignments are coming up, meetings you need to attend, and other events that are on the horizon. I add the idea notebook in there as well because this is something I have been doing this year and I really like it. Whenever I have a question or revelation about something in my career or in my schooling, I will write it down so that I don't forget about it!
11. Car Keys - You should really have a second set also in your backpack or in your small purse, just in case you get locked out of your car. Especially if you are travelling somewhat far to your university, you may not have the option of calling your mom or dad to drop off your second set during their lunch. This will help you just in case you ever accidentally keep them in the ignition or shut them in the trunk.
12. Headphones - If you want to listen to music or watch a video in the library, you have this opportunity. There are days when I am at work and just want to listen to the radio on my phone while I type away at the computer. If you forget your headphones at home, you don't have that freedom, so make sure you have a set tucked away in a pocket.
13. Books for Class - This is another obvious one, but you need to have some of your books for class in your backpack. You don't have to carry all of them at once, and I will talk about this later in the week, but if you keep one or two of the most important books you need that day in there, that would be good. Again, you don't want your bag to be super heavy, so keep all of the 'non-essential' textbooks in your car or at home.
14. Umbrella - Last but not least, you should definitely keep an umbrella in your backpack. You will honestly never know when you are going to need it. Somedays are monsoons and some are quick bouts of sprinkle, nonetheless, you will be thankful when you have that $5 umbrella from Walmart tucked away in your backpack!
There are obviously so many other things you could have in your backpack, but in my opinion, if you are a commuter student, these are the most important items to carry with you! Is there something else that you cannot live without during the day? Feel free to share it in the comments section below! Tomorrow, I'll be talking about some great snacks to keep with you while you commute between college, work, and home!
enjoy the chase,