At the start of high school, my backpack was filled to the brim with what I thought was necessary. This cluttered my backpack and made it difficult to find things and unnecessarily heavy. It turns out, I didn’t need over a third of the things I brought.
By my junior year of high school, I knew to pack my backpack with only the essentials and to keep everything in designated pockets or compartments. By senior year, everything in my backpack could fit in a standard-size tote bag.
In this post, I’ll share with you exactly what was inside my backpack in my senior year. Whether you’re a high school or college student, I hope my tips and tricks can help you lighten your own backpack and make your daily routine a little easier.
Before I Begin
Context is important everywhere, especially before I give advice based on my personal experience. I graduated high school relatively recently (within the last 5 years), so in my senior year, I had the privilege of using laptops and iPads.
As a high school freshman, I carried around multiple large spiral notebooks, a planner, and even textbooks at times. By senior year, all those were replaced by my iPad.
This post is just to share my own experience and to inspire those who might be preparing for high school; it is not meant as instructions. Every student’s backpack may look a little different, and you should pack it according to your own needs and desires.
Throughout high school, I carried a JanSport Right Pack backpack in navy blue. It was sturdy and spacious, and had just enough pockets for a high school student’s miscellaneous items.
I bought a new backpack for college before I started, a Fjallraven Raven 20 backpack. You can read more about it in my recent post, 22 Things I Bought & Loved As A College Student.
MacBook Pro 13-Inch 2020
In high school, I used my MacBook for almost every class to access and complete assignments.
iPad Air 4th Gen
Though I could’ve taken most of my notes on my MacBook, I chose to do a lot of them on my iPad for two reasons: 1) my teacher would only accept “handwritten” notes, and 2) handwriting notes are shown to stay in your brain more effectively.
I also did many homework assignments (especially math assignments) on my iPad. It essentially replaced several of my notebooks. Though I highly recommend this, be sure to check with your teachers to make sure they accept this type of work!
Related Post: 7 Effective Note-Taking Strategies For Students
I used to carry a thick binder every day due to the sheer amount of papers my classes required. However, by senior year, most of my work was online. I only brought a thin, 1-inch binder to carry loose sheets of binder paper and to store hard copies of documents that I received.
TI-84 Graphing Calculator
As you reach higher levels of math, notably calculus, you may be required to own a graphing calculator. The TI-84 calculator is a trusty device that most students choose to buy; it is generally considered the standard graphing calculator and will last you well into college and beyond.
I’m unsure where my pencil case is from, as it’s a very simple one without branding. However, a brand that I used to use and still love is LIHITLAB, and this minimalist design. However, you can pretty much use whichever pencil case you own and like!
In my pencil case, I only carry a few essentials:
- A black Pilot G2 0.5 pen
- Muji 0.38 black, blue, and red pens
- 2 mechanical pencils
- A yellow highlighter
- An eraser, a small ruler, whiteout, and a small pair of scissors
As a female, I carry a few more personal products in my backpack in a small “emergency bag.” In it, I tend to have a few sanitary pads, painkillers, bandaids, and small alcohol wipes. Whatever you think you might need in the case of emergency, consider putting it in this bag.
As with many girls going through high school, I cared a fair amount about how I looked. Therefore, I kept a few more items in a “cosmetics bag,” though not all were beauty products:
- Lip balm, lip tint
- Gum, mints
- Roller perfume
- Hand lotion
- Q-tips, hand sanitizer
Not much to say here! Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day by bringing along a water bottle to school.
Wired Earbuds & Airpods
Sometimes, teachers would ask us to put in our earbuds to listen to a podcast or watch a video during class. Other times, like between classes and before/after school, I would listen to music or my own podcast to pass time. I bring both wired earbuds and my AirPods for convenience and for backup.
I carry my wallet around with me all the time because it holds my driver’s license, student ID, credit card, and money. I use a men’s wallet from Columbia, as it’s the perfect size and thickness for a student like me.
Since I started regularly carrying and using my MacBook and iPad, I decided to bring along my charger as well in case one of them runs out of battery. Since both devices use a USB-C charger, I only need to bring one (my MacBook charger).
Of course, I need my keys to get home! I highly suggest putting a keychain on it to make it easier to find in your backpack, and also to make it less likely for others to mistake your key for theirs.
Self Defense Tools
Lastly, I bring a small can of pepper spray on me at all times; there’s one in my backpack and one in my purse, and I make sure to carry one if I’m going out without either. Luckily, I’ve never had to use it (and I hope you never do, either), but better safe than sorry!
And that’s everything in my backpack! Since half of the items are very small, my backpack doesn’t end up weighing very much, especially since the weight is distributed evenly across my shoulders; most of the weight comes from my electronic devices and water bottle.
Thank you for reading this post, and I hope it helped you figure out any points of concern with your own backpack. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!
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