What’s in my Backpack- 10 college essentials

As an incoming sophomore, I am eager to return back to campus and get back to my school routine. I had an amazing freshman year, and I would love for you all to do the same!

There are a million factors that go into succeeding in college Backpack, but one big one is to be prepared for anything! You will spend most of your day out, walking to class, clubs, or whatever it is that you are keeping busy with.

10 college Essentials in my Backpack

I have compiled a list of 10 essentials in my Backpack you should be carrying around at all times:

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Headphones/Airpods and Extra Chargers

I cannot leave to go anywhere in college backpack without my headphones. In college, you walk almost everywhere, so this is a must-have whether you are going to class, the gym, or walking into town to meet a friend!

Listening to music is a great way to clear your mind, especially during what may be your only alone time at school!

Emergency Makeup/First Aid Bag

There may be days in college Backpack where you spend the whole day out and away from your room.

Last year, I started carrying around a small makeup bag just in case I needed anything throughout the day but couldn’t go back to my dorm for whatever reason.

  • Basic makeup– I put just the makeup essentials in here; I would carry mascara, an eyelash curler, powder, concealer, and lip gloss!
  • First aid- Bandages, medicine, etc! Whatever you think YOU may need. I had different types of pain medicine, tums, and Vitamin C packets in mine!
  • Hand sanitizer- SO many germs in college!! You will want this.
  • Hair tie/hairbrush//scrunchies
  • Nail file
  • Gum
  • Deodorant

Oil Blotting Sheets

Even if you are not prone to oily skin, I recommend investing in oil blotting sheets! I started carrying these around last year when I noticed my skin getting a bit oily, and they helped so much!

You will most likely have long days in college, going from place to place without having time to go back to your room. These were a true lifesaver! 

Here is the link to the ones I use!

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This sounds like a given, but even if you are solely using your student or meal plan card for purchasing food on campus, you should also have some extra cash or a different card!

Sometimes systems are down and meal swipes don’t work, or you may end up wanting to go off campus for a bite to eat with friends. Either way, you should always have an alternative form of payment!

Laptop/Laptop Case

This one is a bit obvious, but I think this is a college student NEED. Investing in a good laptop will help you stay connected and on top of your classes no matter what platform your professor uses.

Laptops allow you to work from almost anywhere, and are very convenient when it comes to online classes and meetings. If you are carrying a laptop, I recommend buying a laptop case to put in your backpack.

I did not use one my first few months of college, and I noticed my laptop getting a bit scratched up from just sitting in my bag.

Amazon laptop case-

Planner, journal, etc

Organization is key in college, and something that helped me a lot was to have a physical planner where I was able to write down and keep track of everything I needed to get done each week.

Everyone is different, a digital planner or a running list may work better for you, but find something to help you stay organized! I took my planner everywhere with me, and would cross tasks and assignments off as I completed them.

This helped me meet deadlines on time, organize my work by priority, and plan for the weeks ahead.


There is nothing worse than running out of your dorm, already late for class, just to find out it is pouring outside. If you go to school anywhere where it rains, buy an umbrella!!!

It is not embarrassing, you do not want to be soaked walking around campus. There are small ones that you can easily fit in your bag and carry around with you just in case.

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Water bottle

Invest in a good water bottle for school! You will want to keep yourself hydrated every day, and having a good reusable water bottle is easier and more efficient than using plastic or disposable.

Find a water bottle that is easy to bring across campus with you, I recommend a stanley cup, hydroflask, or any target reusable water bottle!


Sometimes food options on campus are limited, overcrowded, or have weird schedules that don’t match up with yours. Or you may just not have time to sit down for food during your school day.

I recommend carrying around a few healthy, filling snacks just in case you or a friend may need them throughout the day.

I have this joke with my friends that I always carry around a protein bar no matter where I go; I have yet to use it but if I ever need it, it will be there!

Some easy, healthy on the go snacks:

  • protein bars (cliff, quest, z bars)
  • dried fruit 
  • crackers
  • Tea ( daily drinks for lasting radiance )


Depending on your classes, you may not use paper, pens and notebooks. You will get an idea for what you need in the first few weeks of your classes. However, something that helped me stay organized was colored highlighters!

Even if you solely use your laptop for a class, it is more than likely that a professor will hand out something on paper at some point. Having these is so helpful to organize important ideas, or highlight a syllabus! 

Every college student is different in the things that they need to succeed, so feel free to add some of your own items to this list! I hope these ideas will help you out during your school year. Good luck!

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