August 18, 2017

Back to School Essentials for Graduate Students

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If you haven't heard (from my weekly complaints about how busy I am), I am currently working on my MBA in Sports, Arts & Entertainment Management. This has been something I've wanted to do for a long time, but just never thought I could afford it.

Luckily, since I work for the University, I get some tuition remission. Without that, I wouldn't have been able to pursue this degree. I am thankful every single day that I have this opportunity.

I hadn't taken a college class in about 4 1/2 years before I started working on my masters. It was pretty nerve-wracking at first--would I be able to keep up? How would I be able to deal with working full time AND taking 6 credits/semester?

Some of my friends and I put this list together to help anyone else who might need a little refresher on what you need for classes! We also included some things that are specific to commuters, since most of us work and take classes.


Planner - A planner is an absolute MUST for me. I like to have something with a daily and monthly layout (if not weekly, too) so that I can see things at a glance, and in detail. I love a Day Designer, but I think I'll probably try something new for 2018.

Travel Coffee Mug - Coffee is my best friend on most days, but especially on days when I have class at night. I usually drink one travel mug full in the morning, and then one in the afternoon to get me through to the end of class (10 pm). Having a mug that keeps your drink warm for a few hours (like this one) is imperative.

Travel Water Bottle - On a similar note, I always want to keep water with me. I have one option with a straw and one with a screw top, and I rotate. I like to make sure my water bottle doesn't sweat, in case I want to throw it in my bag.

Colored Pens & Highlighters - A MUST. Studies show that the brain remembers things better if there is some sort of color associated with it. I love to color code by subject, and then sometimes by topic. I use these Staedtler FineLiners, and they work so well for note taking.

Sticky Notes - Another must have. I use a ton of sticky notes to remind myself of important dates, to take notes in my textbooks, and to hold my place in notebooks. I personally really like the full stick back notes, and it just makes studying so much more enjoyable if you use stickies in fun colors and shapes.

5 Star Notebooks - I prefer to use these notebooks because I like to tape or glue handouts into them to keep everything contained. I find that these are a little bit larger than your typical notebook, which makes them perfect for taking notes and keeping track of handouts. I like to use one notebook per class, and I usually fill it.

Headphones - You are inevitably going to have some down time, whether it is before or between classes. It is good to try to be productive in those times, and what better way than by listening. I like to take that time to listen to audiobooks or podcasts. These over the ear headphones are what I prefer (they don't mess with my hearing aids), but any pair will do!

Portable Phone Charger - This was probably one of the best investments I made this year. By evening time, I almost always have a low battery on my phone. I hate having to commute without my phone (safety, boredom, etc), so I always make sure to plug my phone in during class.

Flash Drive - We do a lot of presenting in my classes, and something that is so annoying to me is when people have to log on to their email to open their presentations. I love using a USB drive because I can easily pop it into the computer, and open files quickly.

Cloud Software - We didn't have this when I was working on my undergrad, and I can't believe how easy it makes working on projects! For one of my last group projects, we completed it fully on Google Drive software (Sheets, Slides and Docs), and there was no long string of emails to each other. We didn't get confused about what was the latest version of files and always knew that our files were safe. I suggest Google Drive or Drop Box!

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