Keeping Your Stuff Together

When you’re taking four or five college courses, not only do your textbooks make it feel as though your backpack is filled with brick, but the innards look as though a bunch of little gnomes managed to wiggle themselves inside to throw a party of epic proportions. As a homeschooler, there’s a good chance that you’ve never had to use a backpack, or at least only on rare occasions. Now as you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking that this post is about nothing but backpacks. It’s really not, but nothing is worse than showing up to class and realizing that you can’t find what you need because you either forgot to put it in there or it’s buried under all your stuff.

The first order of business is notebooks. If you’re the one taking 5 courses, you’re going to need 5 notebooks, each colored differently from one another so that you can tell them apart. You’re also going to need folders as the same color as the notebooks you’ll be using for each of your courses. If you can’t find, say, a black folder for a black notebook, then just be sure to pick out something that’s not the same color as the others. It would also help to arrange colors with courses that you may associate that color with; for instance, I chose red for physics because it was the color of blood and hatred. If you’re wondering why not just buy a binder and stick everything in dividers, the reason is because many of your instructors may require you to turn in a folder (this is so that the paper you’re turning in doesn’t get mixed in with everyone else’s). Also, be sure to keep all of your coursework and graded papers in one pocket and all other papers (such as your syllabus) in the other.

Next thing is pens. You’ll need lots of them. Despite you’re best efforts, pens have a tendency to want to jump out of your backpack and run away. Plus, you’ll be using a lot of ink and you’ll go through at least three if you manage to hold on to them. You’ll also need a couple of mechanical pencils, but be sure they’re Scantron approved as their main use will be for tests. If you’re strongly opposed to mechanical pencils, then be sure to pick up a pencil sharpener; the small ones that you sharpen with your hand are the best. Other items you may want to get is a planner, mini stapler, whiteout, highlighters, note cards, and calculators (one for home and one to keep in your backpack). Be sure that the calculator that you’re bringing with you to courses is a scientific calculator since most professors forbid the use of graphing calculators. Apparently they allow you to cheat, I guess.

Now that you have everything, stick your notebooks, textbooks, and folders in your backpack and pens and such in the front pocket(s). Since most of your courses will be spread out throughout the week, you won’t need to bring all of your books with you. If you’re just taking two courses that one day, then bring the books and folders you need for that one day. At the end of the day, just make sure you remove the stuff you won’t need the next day and replace it with what you will need. Also, I must say, use your planner. If you’re juggling 5 courses, it becomes difficult to keep track of what needs to be done from day to day. Be sure to write down due dates for any assignments or tests you’ll have throughout the semester and reminders to read the chapters that you’ll be going over in course.