It’s common practice for upperclassmen to tease the freshmen on their amateur ways. Perhaps the biggest identifier of a freshmen is some kind of lanyard worn around their neck. Of course, no one actually cares whether or not people are wearing lanyards. I believe it’s just upperclassmen trying to reminisce and relive our first year. That being said, I made up a way to entertain myself on the walk to class everyday, which involves trying to guess whether people are freshmen are not. On my way to class yesterday, I actually noticed another identifier of a freshmen which I see as an actual problem (compared to all the lanyard wearing).
I’ve noticed the poor practice of not wearing proper back-wear. I saw a surprising number of people wearing those Nike drawstring bags, probably meant for the gym. But these kids are stuffing their computers and notebooks and binders in them. Is this some sort of high school trend? I vaguely remember not carrying a backpack to my classes in high school, but that was only because my classes were all two minutes away from each other and my locker was conveniently located in the middle of all the academic chaos. Even if backpacks were considered uncool in high school, this is college. This is Cornell. The walk to class is more than a few minutes and going up and down the hills that are campus, not wearing a proper backpack could really hurt people in the long run.
In terms of buying a backpack, consider it an investment. Like winter jackets or snow boots (sorry Forever21), backpacks are worth the money, especially compared to the possible medical bills you might be faced with later on. I had bought this really cute, polka-dotted Jansport backpack for my first semester at Cornell. There was no pocket for my laptop, there were only two compartments, and the material was super thin. If I had put any book inside, the entire bag would sag down my back. Don’t make the same mistake I made. Although the bag was cute, it was completely unreasonable, and I now feel as though I wasted so much money. My backpack now is a North Face, with two main compartments and several smaller ones. There are small belts that snap together the two main shoulder straps, and there’s even a padded pocket for my computer. The back is also extra padded, and the entire thing is water-proof. Although I’m a huge support of the multiple compartments, I am not a fan of those extra large bags that seem bigger than the wearer. The goal for a backpack in College is not to stuff everything in your desk into it, but to just carry what’s necessary to class.
Which brings me to my next point: What to pack. Sometimes a friend will ask me to hold his backpack while he puts on a jacket or sweater, and whenever I take it from him, the backpack takes me down with it. It feels like they stole an entire weight set from Helen Newman. A backpack should never feel heavy. In fact, a backpack should never exceed 10% of your total body weight. You shouldn’t notice it; it should feel natural. Try to minimize the things you bring to class. Plan out what times you can return to your room to exchange materials for class. Binders should stay in your room, carry folders instead, and then empty out the folders into their respective binders. Do you really need a five-subject notebook for a class that gives handouts? Charge your computer the night before so you don’t have to carry your charger around. If you’re really desperate, there are charger stations in some of the libraries (Uris and Mann for sure). The only things in my backpack right now are a one-subject notebook, a folder, 5 writing utensils, my wallet, an iClicker and chapstick (and my computer and headphones, if I weren’t using them right now).
Make sure you’re packing your backpack right as well. It doesn’t make sense to put a molecular model kit closest to your back and your laptop on the very outside pocket (Ouch!). Put flat things closest to your back (laptop, folders, notebooks), and smaller things away from your back. I have a compartment specific for my cables and small electronics (iPhone charger and iClicker or calculator).
This is a weight distribution diagram of how things in a backpack should be packed. I think it’s for hiking trips, but hey, walking around campus is basically like hiking, right?
DISCLAIMER: Sometimes, I’ll carry my Longchamp tote around to class as well. But those are only the days when I only need my computer and wallet. So it never feels like too much of a strain on my shoulder or back. So…I guess that’s okay.