College Thriving Guide: what to put in your backpack


I’ll confess that it took me till my senior year of college to really have my backpack down to a science. So learn from my trial and error and get your backpack situation figured out before you even walk to your first class.

Freshman year it was over-stuff with stuff I really didn’t need (why did I think I would ever need spare tennis shoes?) and seriously it made my shoulders and back hurt walking across Ohio State’s giant campus! So sophomore year I tried to take out most of it but would find myself annoyed when I didn’t have something I really wanted like a sharpie.

Learn from my experiences and remember don’t over-pack your backpack but don’t forget necessities.

*** This article may contain affiliate links that I receive a small commission off of. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I always appreciate any support to keep this site running! Thank you!***

1) Laptop

Seems obvious but my biggest advice is if you are buying a new laptop for college consider the weight but also the academic capacity. Little, thin laptops are great for carrying around but make sure you like the keyboard enough to write a 20 page paper on it.

2) Planner

My planner obsession started in college. Working full time and going to school full time (check out how I did that here) made my planner my best friend. Keeping track of exam dates, class times, project deadlines etc. will either make you or break you in college. And actively using a planner can help you from realizing at 12:01am that you missed an assignment deadline.

For about 5 years now I have used Me and My Big Idea’s Happy Planner

Get it here!


and have never been disappointed by them! They have special stickers for college students too that I loved.


3) Writing tools

There are 3 necessary writing tools to keep in your bag – a #2 pencil, colored pens, and a sharpie. All 3 came in handy so many times in college for me. For colored pens I highly recommend the Staedtler TriPlus Fineliner pens. I still use them religiously to this day on my planner and at my job.

4) Notebook

Yes, laptops are way better for taking notes on BUT there is something to be said for the increased retention from writing notes by hand. Even if you refuse to take hand written notes, you never know when you’ll need to hand something in during class on paper. A lot of times for small groups we would have to turn in our answers and names and I was the only one with notebook paper. Being prepared = being successful in college.

5) Snacks

You never know when a quick study session will become a 7 hour library night. So have some granola bars or whatever your preferred snack is in your bag. Being hungry will keep you distracted from getting your work done! I am a big fan of protein bars for breakfast too and always kept a spare one in my bag for mornings I forgot to grab one on my way out the door.

6) Chargers

Phone and laptop are the two biggest to remember. This includes a wall outlet for your phone! I also liked to keep a spare iPhone converter and headphones in my bag. They are light and when you need them you will be so thankful you have them.

7) Wallet

Again, seems a little obvious but always keep your wallet on you with your drivers license and school ID in it. I also recommend keeping some single dollar bills and quarters in your wallet in case you ever need to hit up some campus vending machines.

Shopping for a backpack? Check out this cute one on Amazon! I freaking love it!

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Every step you can take before a new year at college starts will help make that academic year better!


Any backpack necessities that weren’t on here that you needed in college? Let me know! I love hearing about everyone else’s college experiences.




*links are affiliate but not sponsored. all opinions are my own*

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