10 ULTIMATE BACKPACK ESSENTIALS FOR A FRESHMAN

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I will receive a commission if you purchase a product through one of the links (at no cost to you). 

 Did you remember being a freshman? Is it fun, right? At times, not really!

 I’m Sana, a full-time student, mum of two, and now a blogger. I began a bachelor’s degree in 2012 and graduated three years ago with the support of my husband and his family. I’m studying a postgraduate course. Here’s my journey as a student.

I remember when I started college, I was just like any other student: Fun-loving, carefree and joyful. I was newly married at the time, so the only thing that I was serious about was to learn cooking (from my Mother in Law). But Oh, God! The first year of college was challenging, just as raising a kid, and that’s why I talk about coping with exam stress and studying with the kids so often in my posts.

When I was a freshman, I had few things missing in my bag (obviously I never collected them) and ended up borrowing from here and there (Now I realize that it was embarrassing!).

Apart from the stationery items and notebooks, there are essentials that you should consider keeping in your bag all the time. To make your first day of college easier, here’s the collection of supplies you should buy to prepare and organize for the coming days:

1. A laptop

The first thing you should consider buying as a college student is a reliable Laptop. With so many choices around at different prices, it can be hard to decide the laptop to suit your needs.

As a student, your laptop should have both long battery life and fast CPU performance. Most of you would like to save as much money as possible to pay off student debt. So, one of the laptops I do recommend is the Lenovo Yoga C940. With 16 GB RAM Size and Intel Core Processor, you’ll enjoy the dual feature of a notebook and a laptop to write notes with your hands and very slim, best to fit in your backpack. Other valuable options are Asus ZenBook UX333FA and Acer Aspire 5.

Shop Lenovo Yoga C940 from Ebay
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA-DH51 13.3 Notebook – 1920 x 1080 – + Office 365 Bundle
Acer Aspire 5 15.6″ Full HD Laptop i5-1035G1 8GB RAM 512GB SSD Windows 10

2. Grammarly

I know that it’s not a backpack essential, but a must-have software for your assignments. Grammarly.com is a writing software that helps us to communicate effectively by making the documents mistake-free. Click the image below to signup for FREE!

I’ve been using Grammarly.com for years for free, and later opted for the premium version due to my blogging needs. It’s like another person’s opinion about my writing and helps me make the right impression on the reader (which was at the time, my tutor). The best part is that we can start using this software for FREE! Without any time limit. Later, when you think is best, opt for premium. Since Grammarly.com offers a significant discount on premium from time to time, I recommend signing up for their promotional offers.

3. A Planner

Back in the days when I was a freshman, I didn’t quite understand the need to manage myself. Result: poor organization, mismanagement, lower academic achievements, and overwhelming study pressure.

The student portal by my university helps to keep a record of upcoming assessments, though it didn’t help me to get organized and complete tasks on time. Then, I realized the importance of a diary, and I keep it in my backpack ever since.

Kitty Cats Student Planner (7/19- 6/20) Kit, Highlighters &!Neon Page Markers from eBay
Five Star Student 2019-2020 Academic Year Weekly & Monthly Planner Customizable
me & my BIG Ideas Happy Planner 

4. Sticky notes

Another great tool to organize is to keep sticky notes. Organize your planner, notebooks, calendar, and folders to save time and avoid the headache of getting lost. It also helps gather ideas, brainstorm on a topic, and memorize. You can get them in Bulk ad save money from eBay:

Arteza Sticky Notes, 100 Sheets – Pack of 12

5. Files/Folders

As you’ll print your notes more often and the tutor will hand you the printed notes, you’ll need to organize them, so you don’t lose them. I recommend keeping them in files/folders if you find trouble organizing them in your notebook. A file bag is a smart choice since you can keep notes safe and secure, and they’re super cute too! They’re available on eBay with a variety of colors:

A4 Multi-layer Student Organ Bag File from Ebay
A4 File Folder Document Bag Holder Bill Pouch 6 Colors Office Student Supplies from Ebay
A4 Multi-layer Student Organ Bag File Bag Data Book File Storage Folder 5 inPLUS from Ebay

6. USB Drive

In the initial days of my college, I was aware of the importance of a USB Flash drive in my bag. When I needed to save a couple of files from my online portal, fortunately, I had the USB drive in my bag because the printer was NOT WORKING!

You never know when you need a USB drive. I use it as a backup since I had to face a late submission penalty, three years back (Google Drive was experiencing some malfunction at the same time I was due for submission!).

I backup my data in SanDisk and Samsung USB drive because of compatible features with large enough space, reasonable price, and additional features such as waterproof. I’m linking down below a few that you could get from eBay:

USB Flash Drive SanDisk from eBay
Cute USB Flash Drive 64GB, Aretop USB2.0 Cute Miniatur Japanese Doll Shape USB M from eBay
DM Metal 8GB 16GB 32GB Micro USB otg USB 2.0 u Disk Flash Drive for Samsung from eBay

7. Highlighters

Highlighters are one of the essential tools for me while note-taking during the lectures. The highlighted text within a bunch of text saves time by detecting the principle information and concepts.

With a wide array of colors, highlighter is a must for my bag as a college freshman. More often, the highlighters are readily available in the local shops, with some being the large and the other pocket-sized. Regardless of where you buy it from, you should use a safe, benign, and long-lasting highlighter.

That’s why I trust SHARPIE highlighters, given the usage of highlighters during the trimesters. Depending on your preference, you can choose a mono or multicolor for all documents. eBay has the best variety to fit your desire.

Sharpie Fine Neon Highlighters 4 Pack 21399 from Ebay
Sharpie Clear View Highlighters 3 Fluorescents See Through Blade Style FREE POST from Ebay
STABILO Boss Original Highlighter 4 Assorted Colour Pastel Chisel 2mm 5mm 49692 from Ebay

8. Phone Charger & Earphones

I often forget my phone and laptop charger at home. It gets even more dangerous when I have to attend the classes all day long. Sadly the same happens to my earphones. But I crafted a checklist for myself to remind me what to take along (on my mobile phone).

As a freshman, you won’t hav many friends, and you may find it difficult if you don’t keep the chargers and other electronic gadgets in your bag.

9. Hand Sanitiser and Mask

Provided the seismic wave of COVID-19, ensure your safety when you begin as a college freshman. The precaution is better than cure. A disposable face mask and a tiny hand wash should always be present in your bag. And of course, following the social distancing rules is paramount.

10. Rain Coat/Umbrella

One of the essential items to keep in your bag from the first day of your university is the Rain Coat or an umbrella, especially in the monsoon season. A raincoat is your best mate if you’ve got to walk long distances from the train stations to college.

I get into trouble for not carrying my raincoat along to anywhere in the highly unpredictable weather of Australia. That’s why the rain jacket is a must.

When buying a raincoat, you should consider whether it is durable, lightweight, and comfortable.

Final words

Being a college freshman is both exciting and delightful. Because you’re expecting a year filled with bonding with roommates, making new friends, and independence. But as a freshman, you’re prone to making mistakes that could lead to stress, anxiety, and poor academic performance. One of those mistakes is to not being organized from the first day. Being organized by bringing certain items with you in the college will help you eliminate the potential pitfalls for your successful academic year.

We hope you enjoyed reading our post.

Can you tell us one thing that you’re proud of as a freshman?
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7 BEST WAYS TO MANAGE EXAM STRESS

Do you often face stress and feels burned out during the exam season?

I’m Sana, a full-time student, mum of two and now a blogger. I began bachelor degree in 2012 and graduated 3 years ago. With the support of my husband and his family. I’m studying a postgraduate course. Here’s my journey as a student.

I’m often asked by Mums that how I manage the exam stress with so many responsibilities in line. A while back, I used to get sweaty palms and anxiety during the time my assessments were due. I’d had an uncontrollable feeling of being lost within my everyday routine. But soon, I realized that the exam stress was hampering my capability to study and that I have to act upon it promptly. I learned the primary reason behind my exam fear, which could relate to you too, and that was ‘not being ready for the exam.’

I know some of my friends who excel well to manage the pre-exam revision period, and it’s a piece of cake for them to pass a subject with their eyes closed. Alas for the others, the heart palpitations are a permanent part & parcel.

Since I’ve been able to manage my exam stress, I became more efficient in my study. In one of my previous posts, I’ve provided helpful tips to study while raising kids. Though managing stress levels is another crucial factor to ace in your exams, so keep reading till the end, because in this post I’ll reveal the secrets by which I achieved the highest score in my English language exam while my college exams were due.

1. Prepare beforehand

My stress levels dropped straight after I began preparing myself for the upcoming assessments. How long before the exam should you begin preparing for the exam? The answer is: Even before your first lecture, as soon as you get access to the university’s online portal. This way, you’ll feel prepared for the final examination and significant assignments.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to what I always do (and this shouldn’t take any longer than 30 minutes):

  1. Log in to the online study portal of your institution and find the subject overview document.
  2. Print out the material.
  3. Staple/pin all the pages together in order.
  4. Highlight the necessary information such as assessments, lectures, tutorials, marking guides, and contact methods with the lecturer.
  5. Draw a separate planner of your assessments’ due date and stick it on the fridge door.
  6. Keep a reminder of each assessment in your smartphone.
  7. Keep each subjects’ printed guides in a separate folder and keep them organized (and away from the kids!).

2. Know the expected topics

There was a time when my anxiety levels caused me to feel lost, and at one point, I was on the verge of breaking and tearing apart. Then, I learned the secret to get through the exam worries by observing the exam patterns in each subject. I found out that preparing for the expected topics to appear is yet another fantastic way to prevent the exam stress.

It’s not rocket science to get an understanding of the expected exam topics. Here’s what you should do:

  • Attend all the lectures, especially those right before the exam. These lectures contain critical information as most lecturers reveal crucial topics in the last lectures.
  • Sign in to your online portal and briefly read the assessments section in the subject guide.
  • Get to know the relevant topics of your course and briefly read them before your first lecture.
  • Highlight the topics related to your assessments.
  • Have a brief look at each topic even before your lecture and pen down the questions as it will help you clarify any confusion and ask questions with your lecturer.

3. Find a separate study space

I understand that it could be challenging to find an independent space at your home, especially when there are little ones around or if you live in shared accommodation. But trust me, designating a specific study corner is potentially the best step you can take to prepare yourself well for the exam and eventually, to avoid exam anxiety. You don’t have to organize a large table and a high-back chair for that. All you need is a quiet, comfortable space, and you can find this space in a little corner of your home, even by keeping the compact side table alone.

I used to study in my living room and sometimes, even in the dining area. I also prepared for the exams straight lying on the bed! But I felt both exhausted and distracted within a few minutes.

I did not have a separate study space; I looked for one at home, and I eventually found one in my Backyard, right on the outdoor table!

Here’s what you can do:

  • Look around the home for a place where your kids are least likely to enter.
  • Get help from your partner or a family member to engage kids and study in a quiet corner.
  • Give them the smartphone for some time (You shouldn’t encourage this always though sometimes, keeping them busy is necessary to fulfill other critical responsibilities).
  • Go to the local library, if there’s absolutely no space to study at home.
  • Or you can even find a quiet area in a nearby park!
  • Another great option: study at your college library before or after the lecture.

4. Schedule specific days to study

Here’s yet another way to decrease the chance of facing exam anxiety. Dedicate a particular day and time for your studies. Challenge yourself to stick with the schedule right away if you regularly get stressed out during exams because once you get into a routine of preparing, you’ll more likely feel prepared for the exam day.

I had a habit of delaying my study and prioritizing other commitments over study time. Later, I realized that I could’ve achieved better grades if I were more dedicated to the study schedule.

Here’s what you can do to hold with the study time:

  • Find out whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, since you can learn the best based on these factors.
  • Keep a reminder on your smartphone to remind you of the next day’s study schedule in advance.
  • If you choose to study in the morning, get a good 8-hour sleep the night before.
  • Begin your day with a strong cup of coffee/tea.
  • Set a number of topics you should cover on each scheduled day.

5. Take lecture notes

You’ll be the luckiest person on Earth if you adopt the healthy habit of taking notes. Since writing helps in memorizing, it’s pretty much apparent that the same applies to the lecture.

If your life was an absolute mess and you didn’t practice at all during the semesters, grab the notes you’ve made during the lecture and begin preparing instead of chucking them in the bin. You can even ask your friend to lend you its lecture notes just for exams. But you won’t stress much if you revise your own-written notes.

Here’s the guide to organize your lecture notes:

  • Do not take the dictation during a lecture. Instead, pen down the key ideas and keywords.
  • Grab a pen with the smoothest tip and a fancy notebook to write your lecture notes (It motivates me to keep fancy belongings organized, even if it’s a stationery!).
  • Get your pencil box organized and clean. Keep highlighters and use them frequently in your notes to highlight the keywords. This way, you’ll understand the crucial ideas of the lecture with minor effort during revision.
  • Use paper clips, Foldback clips, Static notes, and sticky flags to organize your lecture notes.
  • Make a table of content. It will help save you time to search for a particular topic in your notebook and ultimately reduce stress.

6. Take frequent pauses while studying

Okay, just because you’re stressed out with the assessment, doesn’t mean you stop eating or ignore your thirst! Take frequent breaks between your revisions to avoid overstressing and getting fatigued.

Since I used to pile up all my study load for the exam season, I often got so stressed in the exam season that I stopped feeling hungry! That was an awful feeling because back in the days, I could eat a horse! It affected my overall health, leading to more health problems.

My best suggestion is to keep eating well, stay hydrated, and follow these steps to avoid exam stress:

  • Go for a quick walk for 5 minutes.
  • Get Vitamin D from the Sun.
  • Look for a window at home with beautiful views of outside. It will entertain you from time to time while revising your exam notes.
  • Refresh yourself with an instant makeup and apply your favorite fragrance.
  • Quickly chat with someone, call a friend, or talk to your partner and kids about your preparation.

7. Give yourself a pat on the back

Last but not least, appreciate yourself for what you’ve gained throughout the semester. You’ve memorized, kept making your effort, and struggled day and night to ace in your exam.

On the exam day, most students experience the highest stress levels, including myself, though I saw others setting up a spa to relax (that’s a rare story!). Consider all the struggles you’ve made preparing for the ultimate day of assessment and trust yourself.

As I often belittled myself, assuming that I haven’t prepared enough made me more anxious for the final exams. But I eventually trusted myself. Here’s how:

  • Take a deep breath and calmly look if you’ve already prepared the major topics for the exam.
  • Celebrate the last day of your semester by treating yourself. Cook your favourite food, or even dine out.
  • Keep trust in yourself that you’ll attempt the best of your knowledge.
  • Know that this isn’t the end of the world. Exam is just a tiny drop of your life’s ocean. Don’t spoil your valuable time in stressing out for this miniature.

In a nutshell

Managing exam stress is all about planning, being organized, and looking after yourself. Stay focused to get prepared for the exam and keep a good faith in yourself. It’s a massive work that despite the busy schedule, you’re attending the lectures and submitting the assignments on time. It could be tough to balance between studies and other commitments, but believe me, it isn’t impossible. Even implementing a few of these in your routine ways to avoid exam worry can boost your confidence and efficiency during the exam.

We hope you loved reading this post. Share as much as you can.

I’d love to hear from you. What do you do to relieve exam stress?

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