Packing for university for the first time is nothing short of daunting. Not only are countless IKEA trips needed to buy an extortionate number of pans which will inevitably never be used, but you are heading into potentially a brand new subject taught in a brand new format with no clear list of what tools are required. I definitely struggled to know what I needed to pack for the studying side of university and after overloading my dad’s car with rulers I never used, I hope that sharing what is actually required is helpful.
A few weeks before your start date your department will provide you with a list of required, optional and additional texts assigned to each module. My initial mistake was to buy some of these books so that I could complete mandatory summer reading before I arrived at uni. University-level books have a reputation for being expensive and, trust me, this reputation is accurate; I ended up spending about £60 on two books and have regretted it ever since. Instead, save yourself the cost and space in the car by waiting until you arrive. Most unis will have some sort of Facebook marketplace or advertising platform where higher years will sell their textbooks for a fraction of the new price (I got about eight for £60), or you can do it the old-fashioned way and ask around at welcome events. Some may be marked or highlighted, but a lot of people refrain from writing in their books so that they can sell them more easily, so this isn’t usually a huge issue – and other people's notes can be useful anyway! This way you only have to pay the full price for those books which have been updated in the past year. Most lecturers will send online PDFs of the pages needed for summer reading, books are available in the library and additional 'recommended' books will never be a priority all year round – just grab them in the library when you are assigned reading from them. So don't be too hasty on Amazon.
I imagine that for my lecturers, looking up at a sea of students hiding behind Apple logos is quite comical. It's not an exaggeration when I say that 99% of students in my year take laptops to lectures and complete the majority of their reading, note-taking and revising behind their screens. While this is definitely not the only way to get through uni, a laptop or tablet on which you can find articles, cases and write notes is an invaluable tool. Definitely pack yours and add to the cacophony of typing noise during class.
Pack business-appropriate clothing. For boys: suit trousers, shirt and tie (suit jacket is usually optional but comes in useful for uni balls/ dinners). For girls: smart trousers/skirt, smart shoes (heels aren’t necessary – I wear my old school shoes), blouses and a smart dress. You don't need to buy everything new – I recycle my old school clothes and some nice dresses I had in the back of my wardrobe. The number of people who missed out on early networking opportunities because they didn't bring smart clothing was a shame – don't join them!
Finally, everything else. I know so many people who didn't pick up a pen until mid-session exams and if this is your style, don't bother bringing boxes of notebooks and stationery. But if you are an old-fashioned paper user (like me), one a4 notebook per module is more than enough to take initially. To put paper usage into context, I only went through 1.5 notebooks per module all year when writing in all lectures and tutorials. Obviously, pens are needed if you are writing, but opt for black ink as this is required in exams. Highlighters and sticky tabs are also essential, especially for marking statute books to take into an exam. As for the pencils, rulers, compasses and protractors that you pack ‘just in case’ – save yourself the space.