The Essential Student Backpack List

02 Sep 2016

You’ve got your results, you’ve ticked off the 10 things to do before starting uni and you’re ready to go! But before the Freshers' celebrations can begin, you’ll need to stock up on some essentials. After all, getting up for a 9am lecture is difficult enough without rushing round your room trying to find everything you need for the day.


Nobody wants to be “all the gear and no idea” – stationery shopping might have been the highlight of your academic year at school, but you probably don’t need a pencil case shaped like a Coke can or 12 different coloured highlighters. On the flipside, you also don’t want to be that person who has to borrow a pen and a scrap of paper every lecture.

Here are the essentials you need in your backpack to make sure you never get caught short this university term.

Student card

Depending on your university, you may need to show your student card to access some buildings or use printing facilities. Always carry it with you — it’s also handy for bagging some extra discount during your post-lecture shopping spree!


writing girl

It might seem like a good idea at the start of term to have a variety of notebooks for each subject, but you’ll soon get tired of lugging half a dozen heavy books around on a busy day. Instead, write everything in one notebook and transfer it to lever arch files (ideally once a week, but let's face it, you'll do it when you remember!). It’s also a good idea to tape a plastic document wallet to the inside back cover. Pop your handouts and loose sheets in after each lecture to keep your notes under control.

A handful of pens

stationery folder

Never leave the house without a few pens. Not only will one undoubtedly run out right in the middle of the most important lecture of your term, but being that person who always has a spare pen is a great way to make friends. Stock up on these in Freshers’ week – there are always people handing out pens and they’ll be much more useful than a car sticker for a society you have no intention of joining.


desk laptop

You’re going to have a lot of deadlines during your time at uni — and we mean a lot! From assignment due dates to your library books’ return date, your diary will become your most-used item. 
Lecturers will usually dish out due dates during the first week of the semester, so invest in an academic diary that will see you through your first year and ensure you don’t get a shock the night before an essay is due.

USB stick

No student wants to lose hours of work, especially with a deadline looming. It only takes one computer glitch and your whole assignment could be lost, so always back up your work on a USB stick. Carry it with you and never waste a trip to the library again.
For extra peace of mind, set up a Dropbox account or email your work to yourself — that way, you’ll still have a copy even if you misplace your USB stick.


laptop meeting

Your laptop is an essential item — but only if you use it right. Leave it at home if you plan on using it to play games or tweet throughout the lecture. Only take it with you if you need to use it to type up notes or will be working on an assignment afterwards. Otherwise, leave it at home.

A bottle of water

Don’t waste money buying a drink every day – get yourself a refillable water bottle and use the fountains which will undoubtedly be everywhere on campus. It’s much better for you than another can from the vending machine, plus it’s free!

A packed lunch or at least some snacks


Student life can be hectic and you’re already rolling your eyes at the idea of packing your lunch bleary-eyed before a 9am lecture. However, it will save you hundreds of pounds over the course of a year if you can remember to take some sandwiches onto campus every now and again. Failing that, a banana and a cereal bar are usually a more nutritious option than a latte and a Danish at the library coffee shop.

Your bus pass

If you don’t live on campus or if you’re at a city university, you can easily rack up a lot of spending throughout the year on bus travel. With unirider, you can pay once at the start of the term or year and travel on as many Stagecoach buses as you like in your area, so if you know you’re going to spend far too much at the student bar, buying in advance means you won’t be walking 3-mile home in the rain come November. Buy yours now.