Your college backpack basically carries your college day-to-day life in one bag. If there's a change of plans and you decide to stay at the student union for a bit longer or go to the library before going home for a couple hours more, your backpack should equip you with everything you need. Here are the nine college essentials that I have in my backpack:
1. Academic planner
From welcome barbecues to sports games to labs, there are so many different kinds of events that you will need to organize in one place. Writing your schedule down in a planner will make sure you don't forget about that research paper you have due on Monday when making plans for the weekend.
Whether you are taking notes and looking things up while in class or reading an e-textbook in between classes, you will need your laptop. Even if devices aren't allowed by some professors, they come in handy when you have spare time before/after class and want to catch up on the news or check social media.
Chances are you will have back-to-back classes and not enough time to go to the cafeteria/food court to grab lunch sometimes. It's necessary to hydrate and refill your bottle at water stations around campus when you're on the go. Also anytime I was really tired, I would drink water to keep myself awake. A snack will help you pay attention and be in a better mood when you just want to get through a never-ending lecture.
If you decide to go to the library or class gets cancelled and you'd rather stay on campus until your next class starts, chargers for your electronic devices will ensure you stay occupied. Every time I update my phone's software, I swear the battery dies out faster, and I hate being paranoid about how long it can last. I recommend getting a portable charger so I don't have to worry about navigating my way around campus if I'm running late or having my roomie let me in if I left my key in the dorm room.
5. Study materials
These include the basics: notebooks, textbooks, pencils, pens and erasers. Throw in notecards, highlighters and multicolor sticky notes for the important sections. If I get to class early, I will pull out my notecards and study them if I have a quiz coming up. For visual learners and OCD students like myself, gel pens, tabs and highlighters are key.
6. Back-up money
You had a long day of classes and haven't eaten since morning when you realize your wallet is not with you. We all forget our wallet at least once, and in situations like these, you will want to have around $5–20 spare cash to use for a caffeine pick me up or a bite to eat.
Earphones are probably the most-used item I have on this list. You will use them to listen to music on the way to class or talk to someone as you're walking back to the dorms, and if you want less distraction when studying in a popular study area. I always buy an extra pair just in case I leave my main pair at home!
8. "Beauty kit"
For me, this includes: Chapstick, lotion, hand sanitizer, eye drops, compact brush and hair ties. The Chapstick and lotion are super useful during dry winter weather, and if you go to school in a sunny area, add sunscreen! A lot of girls include makeup powder or lipstick to touch up as well as hygiene products just in case.
9. Weather accessories
Every time it's brutally sunny or it randomly rains, you don't want to be unprepared. I carry a light jacket in my backpack because I always get cold in classrooms. I'd recommend getting one with a hoodie so you can use it when it rains. If you go to school in Buffalo or New Orleans, pack an umbrella in one of the side pockets of your backpack. If you go to school in Las Vegas or Phoenix, hat and sunglasses will keep you from being blinded by the blazing sunlight. If it snows in your college town a lot, like Manchester, pack a beanie and gloves so you don't freeze to death. And so on.
Everyone is different and adds items to their backpack based on personal preference, but I think it's essential to be prepared. Most of these items make sure you are comfortable and that you don't waste time going back to your dorm or apartment to get things that you do not have access to. Better safe than sorry!