Semester Prep!

Hello dear readers!
This post was inspired by my upcoming fall semester. I want to share with you what I bring to school with me every day, my must-have items for school, favorite snacks and teas for fall, and favorite school supplies. Plus, the most important part (maybe?): I will be sharing how to set yourself up for a very successful semester!

First thing is first: Favorite school supplies:

  • Five Star College Ruled Notebook (1 subject): College ruled is the only paper I can stand writing on – I know I’m a paper snob. Five Star is my favorite brand of notebooks because they are durable and have grate quality paper…not to mention they are somewhat spill proof; the cover is plastic, so if I drip some of my drink onto the cover, it’s no problem. [P.S. When Target was in Canada, I bought a Target brand Five Star equivalent notebook…it was cheaper but still same style. If you have a Target around, go look for those instead of the Five Star. We Canadians no longer have that opportunity.]
  • Sharpie Pens: I think along with being a paper snob, I am a pen snob (haha). I like these pens because not only do they write incredibly smoothly, they are also long lasting and don’t bleed through paper or leave gloopy spots like cheaper pens sometimes do. I have 4 plain black pens and 4 coloured pens by Sharpie. I like my notes to be all black ink and then use the coloured pens for indicating important things or colour coding. Also, for chemistry, I like to use coloured pens when working with formulas and molecules. Same as biology. So Sharpie Pens all the way!
  • Bic Intensity Pens (fine point): Like the Sharpie Pens, these are my favorite. They are actually pretty close to the Sharpie Pens. Same idea: don’t bleed, good ink flow, smooth. I only recently discovered them, so if you want a better priced alternative, give these a go!
  • Five Star College Ruled Heavyweight Refill Paper: For class notes, I use my notebooks. As for taking notes form a textbook or handing in some work during class, I like this paper – a lot. It’s thicker than average paper, so it won’t rip easily or get crumpled as quickly. Plus, I find my pens work really well with this paper – always a plus!
  • Bic Wite-out Tape: Because no one has time for waiting for the liquid stuff to dry!
  • Bic Highlighters/Sharpie Highlighters: I buy the assorted colours because I colour code things and like to have the freedom of deciding what colour I will be staring at for a few hours. They work well and don’t make paper soggy. *thumbs up*
  • Cue Cards (blank and ruled): I think this is self-explanatory? Quickly though: Blank are for sciences where I need to draw and write, ruled are for courses which require only writing. Plus some professors give the option of bringing one cue card with us to exams. Handy!
  • Bic Mechanical Pencils: Easy peesy lemon squeezey! No sharpening required and comfy.
  • Regular wood pencils: I use these sometimes. It depends really. At home, I use the wood pencils a lot more, but during class the mechanical ones are easier. [I will add sharpener and eraser here: the eraser I use is just a regular white one from Staedtler and I use a metal sharpener because it’s sturdy].
  • Avery Heavy Duty Binder: Some classes are just really handout heavy – like biology. Other times, I like to keep all my progress throughout the semester in binders along with important notes and syllabi.
  • Post-It Notes and Page Markers (multi coloured): Super handy for reminders, or little notes in textbooks, or flagging significant spots. I like marking chapters to do before exams, what to read every week, etc.
  • Folders: I like to keep folders with 2 pockets lying around for times I need to bring in essays or hand-in assignments (like labs). I currently have cat ones (who would of thought…HA) and a silver one.
  • A ruler, scientific calculator, and graph paper: Umm, as a science student, I pretty much couldn’t live without these items.

Next, let’s talk about what I bring to school with me on a daily basis and all of what I think every student should own:
What I bring in my backpack:


  • Snacks, lunch, and a water bottle/tumbler. My school has a free water dispensing station located on almost all the floors. I just bring an empty water bottle with me and fill it when needed. In the mornings, I also always bring my tumbler with fresh brewed tea in it (Handy tip: bring tea bags with you from home and ask cafeteria for hot water. No cost for tea!). Snacks and lunches are going to be a separate post! But I like to have a hearty lunch and light snacks.
  • Notebooks, pencils/pens, binder etc. The essentials. I don’t think I really have to list that part out, right? Haha
  • iPad…well, I would bring my laptop if it weren’t so large. On my tablet are things like e-textbooks, Google Calendar, & Email. Having a small tablet is easier to lug around.
  • iPod…because bus rides suck without music.
  • Kit: hand sanitizer, Advil, Band-Aids, Pepto-Bismol (we all have bad days, ok), hair ties, gum, travel mouth wash, lip balm, hair brush, and tissues.
  • I bring homework to work on during breaks or things to study. I like to utilize all of my time at school, especially when I have long breaks between my classes, being productive then means I will have less to do once home, and that is always a welcome state of affairs!
  • Cellphone charger, wallet, USB stick, keys, and an extra layer of clothing in case I get chilly. Where I live, the fall months are always rainy, so I bring a small umbrella too.

Here are a few things which I would classify as must-haves for most of us students:

  • Agenda/planner (either hard-copy or electronic). I have been saved by this item before. I use Google Calendar, it’s a good app that I can access on any device and it keeps me organized. A great way to stay on top of due dates and exams. Trust me. Planning will help with stress management!
  • USB stick…we need this item. Great way to back things up and make sure that even if you forget to print an essay, you still have it on hand.
  • Laptop. You’re going to college in the 21st century. Most of the general population, I think, will be able to get their hands on an average non-fancy laptop, if they want one. But really, having your own portable device will make life easier and more convenient. Also a laptop sleeve to protect it.
  • A small kit to bring in backpack. Something with emergency medications, hand sanitizer, tissues…etc. You never know what you may need and it’s better to have a small stash with you at all times.
  • Travel tumbler/mug and reusable water bottle: I think these are pretty essential. Why spend money (we college students rarely have) on things like coffee or packaged water bottles? Investing in these items will save you money in the long run. Plus tumblers keep hot drinks hot for a long time, so that is always good in the colder months.
  • A glass container which is medium sized and has a tight lid. Make sure it is dishwasher and microwave safe. Having one of these will make taking lunches or dinners to class with you a cinch.
  • Portable charger or just a wall charger. We all use our cellphones. We also hate being left with a dead phone mid-day. So bring a charger!
  • Food. Pretty much a given? You’d be surprised. I see many people buying expensive food from the cafeteria on campus. It’s nice to treat yourself sometimes, but on a day-to-day basis…I suggest bringing your own food.
  • Calculator: even if you don’t take sciences, it’s still pretty good to have around.

Okay, that covers the essentials I believe every college student should bring to campus with them. Let’s move on to talking about how to set yourself up for the most successful semester yet!


  1. Prioritize and Organize: Before classes even begin, take a look at your schedule and print out a copy. Next, write in times for sleep, exercise, studying, showers, lunch, dinner. Literally map out every single day of the week. By hours. It may seem silly but once you have a good schedule set up, you can play around with it and modify as you get into the groove of things. The main thing is to know the general pattern of each day. Stick to the overall schedule – it doesn’t have to be by the minute or even by the hour, just do follow a schedule. It will keep you motivated!
  2. Keep track: Once you get your syllabi, get your planner (or wherever you keep your schedule) and write the due dates, other important days, and exam days for your classes. Also keep track of how you are doing in the course – for each course you are taking, write down everything the prof will evaluate you on, and next to that write down your grade for that exam/assignment.
  3. Buy your books early: shop online for textbooks a month in advance for new/used ones and 2 weeks before classes begin for books students are selling. The earlier you get on top of things, the better chance you have of scoring a good deal on a used (or new) textbook.
  4. Make connections with your professors: Don’t be intimidated. Most professors really like keen students. If you form a good rapport with your instructors, you will benefit greatly from it.
  5. Sleep: Getting the appropriate amount of sleep a night is vital to not only memory, but your immune system, and a whole load of other things. We need sleep. Manage your time well enough, so that you get 7-8 hours a night of solid sleep.
  6. Set small goals: for each course you are taking, have a list of small goals you want to achieve and reward yourself with lattes or other treats when you reach it. It’s much more fun when you make a game out of it and encourage yourself. For example, a goal I set for myself is: if I do all of the practice problems for my chemistry course tonight, I will bake myself cookies. Simple, yes? Very effective, actually.

Time for a little blurb about my favorite fall/winter teas and snacks (not school related)! Let’s get to it:

  • Cold 911 from David’s Tea. Especially if you have the sniffles with the weather change, this tea is great. Eucalyptus and peppermint is really good for the sinuses.
  • Serenity Now from David’s Tea. It’s just perfect after a long day.
  • Earl Grey from David’s Tea. Classic and delicious.
  • Coconut Chai Tea by Zhena’s Gypsy Tea. I mix it with some cream and sugar. This one is a great warm-me-up when I get home.
  • Cinnamon apple chips (homemade). I think this is a good alternative to regular chips and also cures a sweet craving.
  • Cheesy garlic bread and tomato soup. Comforting and warm and gooey.
  • Cajun buttery popcorn. I think it’s a pretty easy snack if you are just peckish while studying or watching something.
  • Warm naan bread with a spread like humus or guacamole. I know, odd combo, but I just really like naan bread.
  • Cookies! Because what is winter/fall without cookies?

4 thoughts on “Semester Prep!

  1. luluscribbles says:

    Love it. I am thinking of picking up an 18-month calendar… Just in time to get into the groove of keeping a physical planner with me (I swear by Google Calendar, too, but if ANYTHING happens to it…. I won’t remember my own birthday.. not really, but I’d be doomed). This is why I love Chapters/Indigo. Pricey, yes… But gosh, they have the cutest things.

    I would like to see a recipe for homemade apple chips! Sounds deelish! 😀

    • lanarichmond says:

      Thank you, Lu! I think that is definitely true with Google Calendar. Having a physical planner to back it up is good idea. I know what you mean with being doomed if something happened to it LOL.
      Chapters/Indigo really does have the cutest things. Mugs *wink wink*, teapots, planners, cards…you name it!
      The recipe for apple chips is coming soon! What’s your favorite snack to bring to class?

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