When its time to go back to school a lot of us have a hard time deciding what to pack . The problem is that most students find themselves either over packing and including tons of things they don’t need or under packing and being stuck with only one pair of underwear or only a mound of mismatched socks. But fear not fellow frosh and sophes (I’m assuming that by the time you’re a junior you have probably already figured out what you need and what you don’t, but if you don’t you can keep reading too.) I have made a list of stuff that you will need both for the classroom and the dorms.
In this entry I will cover the classroom needs, in the next entry I will cover the dorm/housing needs. Needless to say the next entry will probably be a bit longer.
This is the absolute minimum you are going to need for your classes. I say with all the emphasis necessary: DON’T BUY THESE THINGS FROM YOUR CAMPUS BOOKSTORE. This is because 9 times out of 10 the bookstore is way more expensive than your local office supply store. The only exception to this are your textbooks which you can buy at the bookstore if you like but if you take a look back at my Buying Textbooks entry then you will see that most likely you can find textbooks for a better price than at the bookstore.
I’m hoping that this point most of this stuff is pretty self explanatory, if it isn’t then perhaps now is a good time to ask yourself how you got into college.
Some Extras (In Most Cases)
In most classes these would be considered extra things but it all depends on what major your taking and where your taking it. If you’re some sort of math major at MIT then your more likely to need this stuff then a liberal arts major at your local community college. The best way to find out is to look up your course requirements at your school and ask around to find out what other students are using.
Calculator — It depends on what classes your taking and what your going to be using it for. In general, I always like having at least a basic calculator with me no matter what class I’m taking just in case I need it. But if your taking Advanced Calculus or Engineering or something then your probably going to need one of those TI graphing calculators that can like launch rockets and stuff. Just keep in mind that if your going to be getting one of those advanced calculators you might have to shell out anywhere from 100 – 150 bucks (but on the upside I hear now you can go online and pick out all these funky colors and stuff.)
Tape Recorder — This is in case you have trouble taking the notes as the professor is saying them or your likely to forget something they have said. I think having a tape recorder is a good idea (especially if your in a smaller class) so you can always go home and listen to parts of the lecture you might have missed (or maybe fell asleep during.) Just one bit of advice is that you always should ask the professor if they don’t mind being recorded (most will give you the ok on it) but if they say no you have to respect their right to not be recorded. On that note, I once had a professor that told me she didn’t mind being recorded or having me take notes on my computer but she copyrighted everything that she taught and so if any of her students ever tried to use what she said in a book (without her permission) or against her for some reason she did retain the right to sue them. Needless to say I was a little on edge from that point on. So be sure to ask first if you’re going to record a professor.
Laptop — Some students opt to use a laptop in place of the traditional pen and paper for taking notes. I have used both the pen and paper approach as a well as using a laptop computer. I found that I am able to type faster much faster than I write and I am more organized with my notes if I take them on the computer. Not to mention the fact that my computer is able to make clean-cut colorful charts, graphs and diagrams and I could never make trying to draw freehand. With all of the software out there, having a laptop can be especially helpful for students who have majors in art, education, medicine, music, science and technology. Like a tape recorder you have to ask the professor of the class your taking for their permission to use a computer to take notes during their class. Some professors find that laptops are a distraction during their lectures and prefer students not use them. I have found that most professors don’t mind me using my laptop as long as they don’t see me playing games while they are talking and that I don’t distract the other students. If you do decide to use your laptop be sure to mute the sound, charge the battery and try to sit in the back of the class if you can (it also helps keep the prying eyes of your peers off your screen.) If you want to find out more about how to choose a laptop for school be sure to check for a future entry.
Check back for “Packing the Essentials — Part Deux” in the next entry which will cover what you need to pack for your dorm/housing needs.