Here's Everything I’m Shopping For My Virtual Semester

My college recently announced that all classes would be taught online this fall, following in the footsteps of many others and likely leading the way for more to come. While I’m admittedly disappointed, I recognize the choice was made in the name of safety. I also know how important it is to be adaptable, so I’m adapting! 

Back to school shopping is one of my favorite things to do around this time of year, but the products I’m picking up are a little different this time. I’m trading in new jeans for loungewear, and going for home storage instead of a backpack. If your school is also online, or in a hybrid model with a good portion being conducted over your computer, here’s a round-up of some great products I think will enhance virtual learning and ensure a productive and stimulating semester. 

  1. 1. Noise-canceling headphones

    Whether you’re living with your parents or your roommates, studying in a hectic or loud environment is not the most conducive for learning. Noise-canceling headphones do come with a slightly higher price tag, but if they get you in the zone to work they’re worth every penny IMO. My pick is the Sony WH-1000XM3. At $278 they’re comfortable, wireless, and hold a charge for up to 30 hours. If you want something a little sleeker, I recommend Apple’s Airpods Pro. Or if you’re looking for a more affordable option, I’ve often heard that the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 are some of the best budget-friendly headphones out there.

  2. 2. Blue light glasses

    While there may be some debates and conflicting evidence about the effectiveness of blue light glasses, personally, I’m a fan. As soon as I started wearing them my eyes felt less strained, and I started getting fewer headaches. With online classes, homework and hangouts, my screen time is on the rise, and I’ll welcome anything that can alleviate some of the adverse effects. Quay has a huge selection of styles and shapes all starting at $55, the perfect combination of affordable and quality specs. At a slightly higher price point ($95), Felix Gray is one of the most-recommended eye-strain-fighting companies, and I think their Roebling glasses are super cute.

    If you wear prescription glasses, it might be useful to talk with your optometrist about different options that meet your vision needs while also fighting harmful rays. Warby Parker has a large selection of frames that can be fixed with lenses specific to you — I have the Simon glasses with prescription and anti-blue light lenses fitted to them.   

    You'll find a charitable option in DIFF Eyewear – which also offers prescription blue light glasses – as they've already donated over 1.5 million pairs of glasses to those in need. 

  3. 3. A laptop desk bed tray

    I’m not going to attend EVERY class from my bed (at least in the beginning), but if I’m doing school from home, I’m going to enjoy it. Doesn’t watching an 8 a.m. lecture just sound so much better snuggled up under the sheets with a cup of coffee? If so, a bed tray is a necessity. After scouring the internet for a functional, cute, and affordable bed tray, I’m recommending the one above from Amazon, for $30. I love the built-in cup holder, and with three color options ensure it’ll match most bedrooms for those days where productivity and comfort go hand in hand.

  4. Loungewear is just a given these days, right? I’ve had my eyes on Brooklinen sweats and shirts for a couple of months now, and I think it’s finally time to make the purchase. The NYC-based sheet company knows a thing or two about bedding, so I’m sure their clothing is going to feel like a dream, and t-shirts start at just $25.

    I’m also admittedly obsessed with Leena and Lu, a sleep/loungewear brand owned and operated by sisters Ofelia and Kathya. Their tops and bottoms are made from 100% organic, ethically sourced cotton. I love this t-shirt dress ($67), but I love the sustainability of this brand even more.

    For other options, check out Mary Young for inclusive, ethical, and classic styles.  

  5. 5. Home workout gear

    I’m sad to not have access to my on-campus gym this fall, but that’s not going to stop me from working out. Not only is exercise great for the mind and body, but it’ll give me something to focus on that’s not tied directly to my computer. My current essentials are a yoga mat, running shoes, and some light dumbbells.

    Society6 has some really cute yoga mats for $31.

    For runners, I’d highly suggest The Hoka One One Cliftons ($160). They’re easily the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever run in.

    Target has a great selection of weights ranging from 2 to 15 pounds, starting at just under $4. 

  6. 6. Home storage

    The need for home organization this fall could not be more important. If I’m going to be working out of my bedroom more often than not, I want it to be clean and tidy. Nothing is harder than trying to focus on the task at hand when everything in my physical space feels out of control and chaotic. I really like the idea of floating shelves for their space-saving practicality, but also because they double as cute wall decor! I really love these ones I found on Etsy, starting at just under $46. Their beautiful finish and handcrafted stability guarantees a perfect resting spot for all of my textbooks.

    As for my desk, with paper, pens and notebooks strewn all over the place, I’m opting for this organization kit from The Container Store. I like that you can pick and choose the pieces you need, while ensuring everything matches for a clear and coordinated workspace.

I know this upcoming semester is going to look and feel different than any before, but I’m excited and thankful for the opportunity to learn. I hope these product recommendations help you create a safe and productive space so you can crush your academic goals, too!

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