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Here’s what online students say are ‘back to school’ essentials

Let’s get real:

Going back-to-school shopping is terrible.

It might sound exciting at first, sure. You could get a few outfits, a new backpack, maybe even a new awesome Lisa Frank trapper keeper (No? Not cool?). But then you get to the store. There are only two scenarios:

  • You’ve started your shopping early. Congratulations! Now, you’re struggling through the crowd that’s nothing short of a Wal-Mart on a Saturday night.
  • You wait to do your shopping, either to avoid crowds or because you’re a procrastinator. Either way, you’re stuck with the bottom of the barrel, meaning you probably really will be sporting a Lisa Frank trapper keeper. It’s all that’s left over.

It’s a much nicer thought than reality.

And that’s when online students breathe a sigh of relief. Because all that’s needed for online school is a laptop and an internet connection.

There’s no need for textbooks, since they’re built into the virtual classroom. Heavy binders, note-taking tools, tissues, backpacks or whatever other random item on your school supply list won’t be on ours.

You certainly can have notebooks if you’d like. But that’s the beauty of it: It’s up to what you decide.

While you can study wherever you want, a designated workspace is always a good idea. It helps your brain know it’s time to focus. But it doesn’t have to be a boring place. In fact, adding a few personal touches will make the space more enjoyable as you study.

According to online students, these are the items you actually need for online school.

Actual essential 'back to school' items, according to online students

  1. A computer with internet. That one is obvious.

  2. A comfortable seat. Whether it’s an office chair or a bean bag, make sure you can comfortably sit for hours.
  3. A desk (or a bed!). Something that has room for you to sit down with a notebook and some other items.
  4. A snack to avoid  getting ‘hangry.’ For a few ideas on easy study snacks, head here.
  5. Music to make studying enjoyable. Besides, it could improve your focus.
  6. Lighting in whatever form makes you happy. Lamp, lava lamp, Himalayan salt lamp, your choice.
  7. Something to stay cool or warm, because it’s Idaho.
  8. Artwork hanging on the walls. This could be your own drawings or a favorite movie poster.
  9. A friendly feature, like a plant or your cat, to brighten the atmosphere.
  10. A personal item. For our students, that meant something different. Some liked to have their camera nearby, others liked to have their favorite sports drink.

See how some online students described their personal workspaces:

Winner from our Primavera

“My space is unique because I always have my pup with me, I have my laptop, a notebook and my bed, I don’t have a desk. So I sit on my bed and do everything, I’ll sit outside, I have to have music going, and I have pictures on my walls.”

– Erica M.

“What makes my personal workspace unique is that I get to work at any time given. I feel comfortable and stress free. If I go out somewhere, I can take my work with me. I especially like it because I get to be home with family and grab a snack whenever I like. It can seriously be the couch, my bed, kitchen table and the patio except it really hot throughout the day. I’m also able to listen to music, helps motivate me more!”

– Salma U.

Photo submitted by Jennifer Ann Herrera

Photo submitted by Jennifer H.


“What makes my workspace unique? Everything, I have everything I need next to me, not only that but I usually have my artwork scattered all over the table or hung up on the wall. I also add motivational quotes to help me get through the day, oh and my dog who is always with me.” 

– Jennifer H.

“I have my laptop, binder with paper, an extra notebook, pens, pencils and such all in my laptop bag that I set up on the dining room table every day. I don’t ever work alone while having a daughter but I get good grades, learn to multitask and I get work done nicely and organized. I guess that’s all you can really ask for to get through school.”

 – Kayde P.

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