What to Bring to College for a Successful Semester

For most of you, whether you're a Freshman in college or working toward your masters, school has already begun! One of my favorite parts of school is back-to-school shopping; not just for clothes but also for stationary and folders...ya know, school stuff! I am obsessed with cute stationary so I just had to share with y'all everything that I purchased and how it is going to help me achieve a successful semester as a senior at Purdue University.

My glasses are from  Warby Parker in the style Baker.

Before I head back to school, I make sure I have purchased the essentials. Here is a list of things I cannot live without when going to school and why they're a necessity :

  1. A cute and large planner.

    1. Some of you that follow me on Instagram know that I was deciding between a couple of different planners from Anthropologie. I ended up choosing this floral planner from Riffle & Co. Its practically the size of a notebook, which I like. The clean print on the front makes it aesthetically pleasing to look at and write in. I always make sure that my planners have enough space in them so I can write down all of my course assignments along with any other events I have planned. TIP: use different colored pens or markers for different things. For example, I use light blue for everything school related and pink for personal events!

  2. A pencil case.

    1. I've used actual pencil cases before, and have found for them to be way too small for my liking. This year I decided to use one of my older Kate Spade cosmetic cases for my pencil case. It has so much more space yet it is just as cute. Here is a similar option.

  3. A cute notebook that is not designated to any course, but more so just to scribble in and jot down random notes.

    1. I didn't really use this trick until about a year or two ago, but it is very helpful! I am a kind of person who has to write things down in order to complete them. I used to swear by sticky notes, and although I still use them I switched over to a larger notebook. Using a notebook to jot down things like grocery lists or ideas keeps things so much more organized. I got this one from TJMaxx but attached some similar options here, here and here.

  4. Hand lotion.

    1. This is probably the last thing anyone expected for this post, but it is so essential! If you are anything like me, you probably hate the feeling of dry hands. Living in the Midwest has showed me how brutal mother nature can be on our skin. Moisturizing is key to keeping your skin soft and youthful. I keep a big bottle of this Pacifica Island Vanilla Body Butter in my backpack at all times. Not only is it cruelty free, but is is made of great ingredients and is price conscious (smells amazing as well).

  5. Folders

    1. This tab is pretty self-explanatory. Everyone takes notes differently. What I've learned works best for me is purchasing notebooks and folders for each class; this way, I have a place to take notes and a folder for loose paper without the bulk of a binder. I do take notes on my laptop, but writing things down really help me learn the information. Sometimes if I really don't understand the material, i'll transfer my notes from my computer into my notebook just to reiterate the information that much more.

  6. A water bottle, preferably insulated.

    1. Hydration is one of the most important things to success at school and in life in general! Ever since starting my college career, I made it my goal to drink tons of water through out the day. Not only does this keep me hydrated, but it also keep me more alert and concentrated. When I skimp out on drinking enough water, I can feel a headache creeping up. Although water is not proven to cure a headache, I am convinced that I get them when I am dehydrated. If you really can't stand the taste of water, try adding some fruit or even making a light iced-tea.

    2. Espically with the amount of walking that college students do it's nice to take a sip of cold water anytime you need, so it is a smart idea to invest in an insulated water bottle. I was gifted this one after I finished my summer internship, but companies like Swell and Hydro Flask make similar options.

  7. Marker pens.

    1. I am obsessed with these marker pens! I've been on the hunt for thin marker pens that are easy to write with, and I have finally found them! Like I mentioned under my tip above, color coordinating my planner really helps me visualize what I have to do and when everything is do. I color coordinate things like school assignments, appointments, non-school priorities, work and blog. Each time I have something in light blue, for example, I know that it has to do with school.

This fall, I am going into my senior year at Purdue University. School is tough already, and over these past couple of years as a college student I have learned what does and doesn't work for me! Something that works for me might not work for the next person, but I find these tips and tricks very helpful!


I've also compiled some tips that I wish I learned coming into my freshman year as a college student.

  1. Don't purchase your books before hand and try to rent them to get the best price. Unless your professor assigns reading before class or you know someone who took the class and recommends purchasing the book, 9 times out of 10 you won't even use the book and you'll end up spending close to $100 for a book you never even opened. When I have to purchase a book, I try to either rent it through my own school or rent it through Amazon.

  2. Go to class. This tip may seem silly but attendance is seriously important. Believe it or not, most college professors do take attendance points, or use things like clickers in class for points. At times, this can even push you up a letter grade. I have had friends who have failed courses because they never went to class, never gained those attendance points and ended up loosing vital information that wasn't available online. Although you are in college and skipping class seems fun, it can really hurt you in the end. If all else fails, just think of the amount of tuition money that is being wasted as you sleep for that 50+ minutes of class!

  3. Grades are important, but make sure to keep track of yourself. Although college is a place to further your education, it is very important to make sure you are taking care of yourself through health and surrounding yourself with positive people. Try things like walking to class instead of taking the buss or picking up a yoga class with some of your roomies. Your body and mind will thank you. You will see your grades improve along with your mentality. If you are in a negative place, please make sure to seek help. Often times your University will have free resources for you to use...make sure to utilize those tools to your advantage.

  4. Budget. Whether you are a freshman spending too much money on cheesy-bread or a senior wasting your money at the bars, budgeting is going to save your bootay in the end. Although you may need to put some things off at that moment, budgeting is going to help you in the long run. For example, since I budgeted my money last spring semester I was able to start my internship in Florida with some cushion cash. Not only did this allow me to easily buy groceries but I got to do a little shopping before I started work. It feels good when you have some saved up money so why not give it a try!

The planner above is large enough for all of my assignments. It comes with a calendar view along with a day-to-day view...even a place for notes! Make sure to research what planner works best for you; it can really be a great tool to use.

This notebook that I purchased form TJMaxx is great for jotting down notes. Most TJMaxx's or Marshals will have cute stationary like this! You can also try places like Paper Source, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters.

I hope the start of your school semester is going well! Whether its your second week back or you're just starting, make sure to keep a positive mind and you will succeed. School is tough, but it is all worth it in the end. If you have any questions or just want to chat, feel free to email, comment or DM me at any time.

XO. Natalie.