It’s that time again–when stores break out the back to school displays and boxes upon boxes of materials are available on the floor from markers to crayons to papers and folders. For first time college students this can be a stressful but exciting time. Some chose to go off and attend a college as a resident while some chose to commute. No matter what school they pick, there are some essentials that can help maximize your college experience.
1. A lanyard/card holder
Something that no one really thinks about until they get their card is how important it is. It’s a form of identification, in most cases it has access to your meal plan, and lets you into residence halls and sometimes even your room. If you lose it, life gets significantly more difficult. But it doesn’t have to be like that. You can always carry this with your wallet, but for quick and easy access for entering buildings and swiping for your meal, it’s smart to think about buying a lanyard or other small card or ID holder. This makes carrying the essentials quick, easy, and light. Check out something like Vera Wang’s Zip ID card cases for the ladies.
2. Planner or Organizer
Even though you’re in college and you’ve moved past those high school days, projects and papers still have deadlines and tests and quizzes are par for the course. A planner helps keep things in perspective and scheduling study time, events, club meetings, upcoming tests, and even homework assignments. Schedules are easier to balance when you have something to visualize and be reminded of.
When professors first hand out the syllabus, it helps to go through after class has ended with all your courses and write down important dates, deadlines, and events like midterms and finals so they don’t sneak up on you. It can even help to flip to the week prior and note that a big test will happen on Monday or that following week so you won’t forget once you turn to the next page.
College students have busy lives, often working part time jobs and being heavily involved in campus activities. A planner is an excellent method to organize your life and better prepare yourself for what is approaching and what you can or can’t do.
3. Cell phone with texting abilities
Most students already have cell phones, but that doesn’t negate the importance of having one. For emergencies, calls to mom or dad, and keeping up with friends, a cell phone is now a necessary tool for students. Many phones have alarm capabilities, and students can set certain days for an alarm to go off. This can be helpful when balancing a schedule of classes where Tuesday and Thursday are eight AM classes but Wednesday is an eleven AM. This can also cut out the need for an alarm clock, although it is certainly a helpful back up for if something happens to your phone.
Why the texting capabilities? Often, it’s difficult to reach people just by calling them. Friends might not know the schedule of another friend, especially if they have a test or are in class. Many, if not all professors, find it rude when a cell phone goes off in class. This is an easier method to get in contact with people, to arrange quick lunch or dinner plans with a group of people with a mass text on the fly, or for mom and dad to check up on you without interrupting a late night course or library study session. Another tip: texting yourself reminders, class room numbers, or semester schedules is an excellent way to get organized in the beginning of the semester and keeping your schedule straight without having to dig through your backpack, purse, or other carryall for where you need to be or what you need to bring or do.
4. Furnishings or posters
Dorms can be rather bleak and drab. The start of the semester is always a fun and exciting time to decorate and design your side of your room with little touches and home furnishings if you’re an on-campus resident. This can help with home sickness for freshmen students also. Hanging pictures of family and friends, colorful curtains from windows, posters of favorite bands or movies, and even fabric from the walls can help make the room feel more livable and homey, especially since you’ll be living in it for the following school year.
Find little knick knacks, newspaper clippings, pictures and prints, and even a potted plant to brighten up your space, help fight any initial blues, and bring a change of pace. When the new semester hits and you feel like a fresh page is needed, rearranging furniture and other furnishings can help you feel like you’re making a new start.
Cereal, breakfast bars, chips, cookies, and even healthier alternatives like vegetables and other goodies are always a smart thing to pack away and store in your room. The same goes for soda or energy drinks for some. Popcorn and hot chocolate packets and a mug can be a smart idea also for those that have microwave usage. These are perfect for late-night study sessions, movie nights, and general snack to shove in your bag in between classes or for longer-lasting courses. These little snacks will help keep the hunger at bay until you have time to go out and eat a meal.
There are countless other things that students find extremely helpful during their college careers. Each vary from person to person; some need a coffee maker and coffee to get through the day and study sessions while others just need a quiet room. The main thing to remember is to maintain a balance between work and play: learn, go to your courses, and work, but also take the time to hang out with your friends, meet new people, and experience new things.