The new school year is creeping around the corner and the summer sun will soon bid us farewell. With this seasonal shift, it might just be time to go on that back-to-school shopping spree. It is the perfect time to go out and get all that good stuff that will help motivate and prepare you for the academic grind to come. I mean, better to shop till you drop rather than drop the ball with a fresh start to the academic year.
To help you maximize your success, here are 10 must-buys for the new school year.
1. Extensive Planner
Number 1 tip for success in both your academic and personal life? Organization. Life gets chaotic and college chaos transforms it into another breed. An extensive planner will offer you a life raft amidst this stormy sea. When considering what planner to get, I’m going to go with the-bigger-the-better mentality. Get yourself a planner with room for not only homework, but appointments, plans with friends and to do lists, which can help you organize both your academic and personal life all in one condensed place.
2. To-do lists
Now, depending on what works for you, I suggest keeping a separate note pad where you can make daily to-do lists. This way, you can then tape it on your desk as a visual reminder. To-do lists function as a great way to make sure you get everything done. Before college, I would make them only on my busiest days when I found myself short on time with lots to do. Then came college and suddenly every day turned into my busiest days. My grades depended on my ability to check off everything that needed to get done. As such, to-do lists really can make or break you, especially the forgetful humans such as myself.
3. Designated Pencil Case
Okay, time for the designated pencil case. This is inspired by the designated backpack zipper. I think everyone knew of that zipper in their backpack growing up. You know, the smallest pocket where you would have a ChapStick or an extra hair tie. This served as the spot for the goodies that made your life a little more comfortable in the time when you needed it.
“I always keep a smaller bag within my backpack. Especially for the everyday trinkets, so it’s all kept in one place and easy to obtain,” San Diego Community College sophomore Mariela Barbosa said.
Well, that started the evolution of my designated pencil case. Whether you carry the trendy tote, the trusty backpack or anything in between, the designated pencil case might just save you one day. Stuff in their anything you might need from some non-mechanical pencils for when you walk into your final unsuspecting to a full-sized eraser for when you write those final essays timed and by hand. You could even include some hair ties, the classic ChapStick or maybe a small snack for when you sleep in late and have to skip breakfast. Regardless, once placed in your bag, the pencil case never leaves.
4. Colored Pens and Highlighters
Sometimes, romanticizing your life is the answer. When you don’t feel like doing that 50 page reading or booking it to the library where you know you will live for the next few hours, romanticizing comes in handy. How can you do this, you ask? Well, I recommend starting by channeling your inner aesthetic. Personally, I’m not the most aesthetic individual. I tend to-do what works, but when I just can’t get into the grind mindset, I turn to colored pens and highlighters.
“I like to take notes with highlighters and designate a color to a specific part of my notes. For example, yellow is always for a vocabulary word and its definition and green is always for a process (like a mathematical procedure). Highlighters help organize my notes and make it easier to quickly reference when reviewing and studying or looking over notes before an exam to refresh my memory,” Santa Clara University sophomore Avary Torres said.
We all know the struggles of digesting class material constantly. When you find it a bit harder to study, get out those highlighters and use them for their designated purposes. Channel your inner comedian in the margins and go get your rainbow on. If you need a break from the organized color-fest, you can always doodle in the margins (you deserve the break).
5. Reusable Water Bottle
It might shock you when you realize how few water fountains are accessible on a college campus. After walking around all day, you will need to hydrate. Keeping yourself healthy by feeding yourself well and drinking enough water really can make or break your success simply in terms of taking care of your mind and body. However, when focusing on your body, having your trusty water bottle will truly serve as a life saver.
Utilizing music changes everything as a college student. Composing that perfect study playlist that focuses your mind will help your improve grades. Even just putting together some tracks that you can walk to class with will help motivate your good habits (and help you not skip your classes). When you go on walks or to gym accompanied by songs that make you happy, it can put you in a better mood, helping your mental health. Turning to music in college is a universal experience in general, so have fun compiling the soundtrack to your college life!
7. Personal Support Item
I like to call this one the PSI. Allow me to explain, a personal support item that changes from person to person. For me, it would probably be my favorite book, but for another it can range from a sketchbook to a soccer ball to an instrument that you bring with you to college. Giving yourself time away from everything and doing something that brings you joy remains a great way to avoid hitting that academic wall. The potential to burn out during this new period of your life remains far more of a likelihood when you forget about needing personal alone time. As much as hanging out with friends might feel like that reprieve from academic vigor, cracking open your favorite book or popping in air buds while sketching makes a world of difference.
Personalizing items never gets dull— especially your electronics. Your laptop begs for the opportunity to be adorned in adorable or inspiring stickers. Perhaps it would surprise you to learn just how motivating starting an assignment becomes when the first step is glancing at the stickers you hand selected for your computer. I’ve seen some hilarious covers, some beautiful and aesthetic covers and some covers that gleam in an explosion of happy colors. Have fun making your laptop your own!
9. Comfy Shoes
You wouldn’t believe how many steps you will take daily going to college. Moreover, you wouldn’t believe how many students simply don’t go to class. Now, as many classes do not get recorded and professors love nothing more than to slip in information that they don’t include on their slides that will be important later on, you will quickly learn the importance of going to class. So, bringing comfy shoes that make those trips to class that feels like waking on clouds will only help you in the end.
10. iPad Pro
If you were never a laptop person, this might be the answer for you. The iPad Pro is useful in multiple respects. For one, in college, you rarely get readings that are not digital. As someone who struggles to learn without annotating, laptops don’t necessarily help me. However, the iPad Pro enables you to annotate directly on digital readings. So, depending on how you learn, this might just save your life.
“I’d say my iPad Pro helped me academically because it gave me a place to take notes by hand and keep them all in one place, download and annotate my textbooks and others readings, and organize my assignments to keep track of them,” UCLA sophomore Katrina Smith said.
Another great aspect of the iPad Pro includes the fact that it isn’t as heavy as a laptop, making it easier to travel with around campus. In comparison to other iPads, the Pro is also known for having extra power and a better screen with its higher clarity due to the display having a high-contrast and high brightness. With the insane amounts of readings you have ahead of you, it might not hurt to read off of a screen that won’t give you a massive migraine. Not to mention, the movies and TV breaks in your dorm bed will look ten times better on this iPad.