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My Top 5 Back to School Tools

My Top 5 Back to School Tools

Heading off to college is an exciting time of year. You’re ready to take on the year and all the challenges ahead. In part three of my Back to College series, I’ll be equipping you with the tools that you need to succeed.

My suggestions are those that have helped me the most over the last three years. Not everyone has the same learning style or experience, but each of these tools could be adapted to any learning style.

A Calendar or Planner (Or Both!)

I started using a planner in college to keep track of everything I needed to. For some reason I never got down using a planner to write down assignments in high school. In college, having a place to write it all down is essential. You’ll be balancing classes, assignments, clubs, organizations and events, and you’ll need a place to put it all down.

I actually use a planner and a calendar to keep all my dates straight. At the beginning of the semester, I sit down with each syllabus from each class and write all the dates in my planner. Then, since my calendar is a whiteboard calendar, I transfer the month onto my calendar. That way, I have my month in front of my desk, and in my planner. I carry my planner around with me to add and change dates as needed.

This could easily be added to the calendar in your phone, or on your computer. Whichever way you’ll write and look at dates.

Bonus tip: Get a communal calendar to share with your roommate. In addition to your personal calendar, have a calendar to mark dates they should know, such as going home for the weekend.


It sounds crazy. When I was in high school, we weren’t even allowed to have headphones out at school. In college, it’s a whole different story. Headphones will be the way you’ll probably be listening to music. When you’re in your dorm, you’ll keep your music to yourself, and not disturb your roommate.

Also, when you’re between classes, you can listen to music. It’s a good way to pass the time, and can open a whole world of entertainment if you’re having a down moment. They can also be a good way to block out noise if you’re really trying to focus and get work done.


Taking notes will be essential to success in your classes. Find out what way of note taking helps you learn, and get the tools you need. Most college students take notes on laptops or tablets, but don’t be afraid of trying a notebook and pen.

I’ve always taken notes with paper and pen in college, because it helps me focus on the lecture. On my laptop, I could easily get distracted and off topic during class. I found using a notebook keeps me focused on the lecture, and writing the information down helps me remember. Use the first week to see what works best for you and use that method throughout your semester. Even if you decide to take notes on a laptop, bring some paper to class. Many professors ask to do work on paper and then hand it in at the end of lecture.

Good walking shoes

These will save your feet. While I’m all for a cute pair of shoes, at times practicality has to outweigh design. I walk to school every day, as many students do, and sometimes a cute shoes doesn’t cut it. It’s also handy to have a pair for exercising or athletic events. Your gym shoes can double as your practical every day pair.

Also, you never know when you might go on a hike with friends, or do something that requires a close toed pair of shoes. Having these on hand will save you from a scramble (an blisters) later.

A watch or reliable timepiece.

Most people use their phones to keep track of time these days, but a watch can come in handy. There will be times a professor will specify no cell phones for an exam, or might ask you to shut your phone off while they’re lecturing. Here a watch can come in handy to keep time.

You also want a reliable timepiece you can use as an alarm. For many of us, it might be our phone. Get used to using an alarm to wake up, and even setting them throughout the day. On busy days I might set myself an alarm to get me to stop and pack my stuff to go to class. This will help you be responsible for getting yourself places on time.

With these tools, you’ll be equipped to succeed when you start the semester. Find your habits and methods that work for you, and use them to your advantage. xo

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