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Backpack Essentials That Got Me Through Freshman Year

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at George Mason University chapter.

Another year, another fresh start, welcome back to school collegiettes!! As I was reflecting on my first year of college, I was thinking about the things that made me nervous when I first started; making new friends, doing well in my classes, but also making sure I was always prepared. Since I am a commuter, I’ve had this fear of forgetting something important since I never had the luxury of being able to run back to my dorm to grab it. Due to this, I ensured I carried all my class essentials (notebooks, pens, etc), but I also realized along the way how I needed some other essentials as well:

1. Planner

Starting at a new school is tough as is, but combined with several classes and endless to-do’s, it is SO much easier and less daunting when you can list out everything you need to complete. My planner was my lifesaver, especially during the beginning of the school year when I had to keep track of to-dos for each class, dues to pay for clubs and assignments to complete on time. Having my planner with me consistently was reassuring and kept me grounded.

2. Chargers

Yes, plural!! It’s always better to have both your phone and laptop charger in your backpack at all times since you never know how much you’ll be using your devices. I have had situations where I’ve needed to use both multiple times a day and days when I’ve never even touched them but regardless, there is nothing worse than watching your laptop die while you were in the middle of completing an assignment, so I always pack both my chargers to stay on the safer side.

3. On-The-Go Snacks 

If you’re like me and you never give yourself time to eat breakfast, or you’re in your study grind and your stomach starts to growl, little portable and healthy snacks are amazing. I tend to pack granola bars or fruits in my backpack because I know I’ll be hungry some time during the day and I also use it as an excuse to let me eat something unhealthy later in the day. Eating a banana in the morning cancels out the cookie I had during lunch, right? This can also save you money in the long run since you’re not spending out of pocket for every craving you have. Happy bank account = happy college student.

4. Hair Ties

You never know when yours might break and I personally can only work with my hair tied up so having extra hair ties and scrunchies in my backpack is so helpful. I tend to use scrunchies since they pull and damage my hair less and put them in my pencil pouch so I don’t have to search my backpack for them.

5. Lotion and Chapstick

An absolute necessity for dry skinned girls like me during the winter. I always have a small bottle of lotion in my backpack that I use nearly every day when the weather starts to get chillier. I am also a chapstick fiend and own probably 20 different kinds so I keep some with me to reapply every few hours.

6. Extra Water Bottle 

Always! Stay! Hydrated! I carry an empty water bottle in my backpack just in case I forget to bring or fill up my normal one. It makes life so much easier and I’d much rather have my own water bottle than go to the water fountain for a few sips every hour.

7.  Gum

Not only does this tiny piece of rubber taste great, but it is also supposed to help your memory and keep you more attentive. I have a pack in my backpack to pop in my mouth whenever I’m studying on campus, taking an exam or if I just want to chew on something.

8. Cardigan 

I tend to get cold very easily, so I like to have a cardigan or some form of outerwear with me. I like to pack a neutral-colored one that is lightweight so it doesn’t take up too much space in my backpack, but also warm enough so that it does its job.

9. Tissues

I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve eaten food and didn’t have something to wipe my hands or mouth with. Or when I’m sick and in class with no tissue box in sight. As a result, I bring little tissue packets or just stock up from restaurants to keep in my backpack at all times. They’re a lifesaver for all disasters, whether it be spills, messes or stuffy noses.

I hope this list helped you the way it did for me. Always be prepared collegiettes, and have a wonderful year!

George Mason Contributor (GMU)

George Mason University '50

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