Mundane advice for back to school (ft. my friends)

This post will be coming out on my first day of school. I have mixed feelings about going back. On one hand, there’s no way in the world I would complain about a few more weeks of summer, but on the other hand, I’m feeling that seasonal shift of ‘okay, I’m kind of getting tired of this.’

There’s also a good amount of things I’m excited about- one of those being that I got to go school supply shopping this year. Ever since third grade when I started going to the school I go to now, I’ve always been provided with the basics by my school. It’s been wonderful, but it was fun to pick out stuff myself this time.

Some of my friends were excited about this too. One person was pleasantly surprised when I told her that the school wasn’t giving us stuff this year because she had liked a binder she had seen recently and now this meant she could get it. Two other people went school supply shopping together for three hours and got a ton of stuff.

Another thing I like about back to school is that it creates so many possibilities for blog posts. And the best part is that it comes around every year. I didn’t take very good advantage of this annual idea generator this year (or last year). The one back to school themed post I’m writing in 2018 (I think) is the one you’re reading right now. It’s a compilation on my thoughts and my friends’ thoughts on the mundane stuff that school is made up of.

If any of their answers have weird (bad) grammar, it’s because they were text messages. I’ve kept my editing to a minimum to maintain authenticity. Also, beware, this post is lengthy.

On favorite school supplies


(notebook, pencil case, black pens, red pen, blue pen, pencils, highlighter)

Pens: Yep, I’m with Jonathan (who answered before me chronologically but whose answer is after mine on this post)- Muji is the best. They’re basically the only pens I use- specifically, the capped gel-ink ballpoint pens in either 0.5 or 0.38.
Pencils: Bic mechanical pencils.
Highlighters: I think the Sharpie ones are fine, but the Ticonderoga Emphasis ones are nicer.
Notebooks: I don’t like composition notebooks (I feel boxed in because you can’t rip pages out without it looking awful), and I think the basic spiral ones are too flimsy. My favorite notebook for school purposes is the Five Star ones with the plastic covers- and college ruled, always.
Binders: I like the 1.5 inch ones. 1.5 is the perfect “Godilocks just right” width for me. 1 is too narrow and 2 is too fat. I got this one by Pen + Gear. It also has d-rings, which apparently holds more than the circular ones.


-favorite supplies: 0.25 black pens, grid or bullet journals, mildliners (my favorite highlighters) 
i like muji pens or slicci pens, and muji journals or rhodia bullet journals, basically i like anything muji


-fav supplies – black pens, mechanical pencils, polymer eraser, notebooks, pencil bags and basically the essentials
-me: Haha wait be more specific on pen and notebooks brands
-idk i like a lot
papermate and big inc ig???
(Editing Annie: I’m 99% sure she mean Bic Ink.)

-Favorite supplies: folders for classes (binders are too clunky), composition notebooks, colored pens!!!
Thank you! What brands do you like?
-My favorite notebook brand is Rhodia webnotebooks

-Planners are definitely my favorite supply. I feel that it’s the start to a perfect(ly organized) school year!
What planner do you use and can you talk a little about how you use it?
-I don’t stick with a specific brand and my planner use has widely been trial and error throughout my school career! I mainly look for plenty of space in the weekly view so I can write everything and anything down. I do like to draw a line to separate the daily spaces into two. One side of what assignments are due that day and one side of what work I plan to do that day.

-My favorite supplies are binders, spiral notebooks (not composition) and mechanical pencils (not wood).
-can you be more specific about what brand you like?
– Hm, Five Star– it’s good quality.

On taking notes

These are my personal notebooks, not school ones, but I ran out of photogenic school-related things to photgraph.

I have nothing for this one. At my school, they give us pre-formatted notes that we fill in. 

-I usually just write down watever i think is important
-uhhhh i like drawing arrows a lot to connect things and i highlight important words and like each topic thing.
-What notebook do you take notes in?
-well i only rly took notes in one class last year and it was a cheap grid notebook i found at walmart

-i take notes in a notebook for notes
(Editing Annie: hahahahaha)

-How I take notes: I use one notebook for all my subjects, and I just write a new heading for each new subject. It saves paper. I never get those 5 section notebooks because one section for one class might be full while another section is half empty.

-I take notes by writing down mainly important concepts and info.

On studying

Test review for the Roman Republic

(same Five Star notebook)

It depends on the class. For history and science, I use the test review sheets the teachers make and the notes from the unit to write out my own test review. (A quick sidenote on how I format them: The big lettering on top is the unit’s name. Smaller sections are underlined in pink highlighter and vocabulary is underlined in blue.) This might be off, but I think it usually takes me two hours to make the test review and then around a hour to study it.
At the very end of last year, I typed out some of the test reviews on Evernote, but I still went back and underlined and added stuff on the printed copy to trick my brain into feeling like it had “interacted” with the material. Otherwise, if I don’t physically write anything, I just feel unprepared and like I’m not remembering anything.
For math and Spanish, I do Quizlet, the test review questions the teachers assign, and look over notes.

-for like unit tests i first skim thru the whole unit, write down important things i feel like i need to know, say it out loud a couple times in my head, go over notes, then read through the whole unit. otherwise i would just use like someone else’s quizlet.

-How long in general does your unit test study process take you?
-a couple hours but that’s also cuz i get distracted a lot and easily


(School supplies haul: Shown in picture- 1) one subject, college ruled, Five Star notebook 2) reinforced, Exceed notebook paper. Not show in picture- 3) pack of yellow highlighters 4) two of those purple Elmer’s glue sticks 5) flashcards that I didn’t realize were unlined until I opened them 6) twenty sheet protectors 7) three binders 8) three sets of five binder tabs.)

Sidenotes: for some reason it’s called “filler paper” instead of notebook paper, and for some reason, the only college ruled paper I could find at Walmart was this reinforced kind.

-I study using quizlet or just reading those notes or using a study guide from the teacher
-Do you make your own quizlet or have people already made one?
-quizlets r already made

-I study differently for all different subjects, but almost all include flash cards!
Can you talk more about this too?
-I like to use flashcards for things that are simple and easily summed up.
Also, you said you study differently for different classes- can you talk about that more too?
-If I know I will have a good amount of time, I’ll write it out, if not I’ll use Quizlet, especially since I can go on my phone and use it.

-When I study, I just read my notes.

On organization systems

Summer reading homework: Candide by Voltaire and A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens

(folder: can’t find exact one, but it’s by the brand Eccolo)

Last year I used 1) an accordian folder for homework and 2) a binder for handouts and the papers I got back. Both were organized by classes. At the end of each trimester, I cleaned out my school binder and moved almost everything into a binder that stayed at home. The plan for this year is similar: a regular folder for homework and three binders (one for each trimester) for handouts and returned papers.

-i usually organize my papers by class in the beginning and then i just shove everything in my backpack and it becomes a mess
-Do you organize your papers in a binder?
-nope, I don’t like to carry around big binders
-Oh what do you use instead of a binder
-usually never works and everything is shoved in my backpack
(Editing Annie: he is actually using binders this year even though he prefers folders because his teachers wanted them. Also, as of right now, he is still organized and has not yet resorted to shoving everything in his backpack.)

-i organize papers using a folder
-when you say you organize your papers in a folder what do you mean
-one side is not completed and other side is completed work
-Ah okay that’s what I was thinking
-What about when you get papers back
-that’s on the completed/returned side
-i put it in the back tho
-What do you do when the completed side gets too full?
i empty the completed side?
Haha oops I should’ve predicted that- where do you empty the papers to?
i empty my papers to my mom
(Editing Annie: hahaha.)

-I organize my papers by subject and I also have a folder of any important forms to go.

-I organize my papers and assignments based on class and how urgently I need to complete/reference them.

On planners



ME: I keep track of everything in my planner. Dude, I honestly don’t think I could get through school if I didn’t have this thing. One time I misplaced it for a day, and I honestly felt lost.

Me speaking on behalf of my friends: Jonathan ordered the same planner as me, and Riley uses one by the brand Miniso.

General thoughts on things you have to have at school/staying organized/lifesavers/anything


A random thing I do to keep my pencil case clean is that every time I put a mechanical pencil back in, I do the shot thing and retract the lead. And I make sure the highlighter caps are actually on.
About drinking water: a friend I know matches how much water she drinks with her schedule- like a bottle before assembly, a bottle before lunch, and a bottle after lunch- and this is the big 32 oz. water bottle too. I can only dream of being that hydrated, but something she said once was very helpful: it was something like how 32 oz. is basically eight sets of eight sips. I tried doing that, and I realized that counting sips makes drinking water easier for me when I don’t feel like doing it.

-uhhh just water
-i forget to bring pencils and stuff a lot
-sooo yea

-solid advice


-Find reasons to stay motivated past September in school! And let yourself be interested and get immersed in topics you’re studying in school!
how do you stay motivated and what are some of your ways you learn more about subjects outside of school?
-At school, beyond the essentials, I must have a novel (often more than one!) and a notebook to write in!
(Editing Annie: that’s the best answer in this whole thing)

-Tips on staying organized is use a planner and don’t procrastinate, but I’m kinda a hypocrite because I procrastinate all the time. Overall, put in the effort, and don’t be overly stressed about getting perfect grades. Take classes you like, don’t take 7 APs you hate just to boost your GPA, and put mental, physical, and emotional health above your grades.
(Editing Annie: okay, that’s a fantastic answer too.)


What are your favorite supplies?
Team folders or team binders, and team college ruled or team wide ruled?
Something you must have at school with you?
Thoughts on studying, staying organized, or anything in general?

This truly is a long post. I think it’s a longest post I’ve written. I said that for another post I just wrote, but dude, this really is it. They just keep getting longer. I don’t know what’s happening.

18 thoughts on “Mundane advice for back to school (ft. my friends)”

  1. Having a water bottle is so important! I haven’t started using one until this semester but it’s absolutely wonderful. Also, THIN PENS ARE SO SOOTHING. The way the inch flows on the page is just bliss. I’m also always team college ruled– wide ruled makes me want to yank out hair. I hope this school year treats you amazing, Annie!

    xoxo Abigail Lennah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right? I need my water bottle at school. Hahahaha, I agree, thin pens are very nice. Yesss, college ruled for the win. Thank you very much! I hope you love your first year of college. Also, I’m planning on writing my letter to you this afternoon. :))


  2. I love these types of posts! The longer the better. XD I hope your first day(s) of school went really well! 🙂

    Ahh yes, school supplies are definitely one of the better parts about going back to school. I’ve never heard of Muji pens, but have decided to look them up now, because they sound great. Your notebooks (and notes) are so photogenic! I also agree that I would be utterly lost without my planner. I will never understand how people without planners get the right homework done, study for the right quizzes/tests, etc. I WOULD BE SO LOST. I do the push-lead-in thing to my pencils, too! It’s kind of my nervous habit in school. I’ve found that I’m always pushing the lead in, clicking it back out, and pushing it in again as I’m listening to the teacher or looking at my paper or something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you thank you thank you! My first two days of school (I start on a Thursday) went well, but I never really like first days- they’re kind of boring and also a big adjustment from summer.

      I completely agree. Ahh, you should! Not only are they great, but there’s also something very nice about seeing other people with Muji pens or someone seeing you with them and commenting on how much they love them too. Thank you so much! Oh my goodness, I know right? Our school also has an assignment channel online where you can check for that kind of stuff which people use, but I need to have my planner so I can see everything together without reaching for my phone. Oh, haha! What I do is I have this magnetic pen that I stick onto the metal part of my desk and then take off and then stick back on again. One time I lost it because I left it stuck there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! I’m glad they went well, but I feel you- they’re just solid hours of syllabus reading and hearing each individual teacher’s expectations for the year.

        Haha! Okay, I really should get some soon. I love it when I get to fangirl over small things like pens with people. XD That’s cool! But I still prefer a planner too, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ooh, I hope you like them! My sister first got me into them by giving me the assorted set of different colors. Now I get the black and the dark blue pens, those are my favorite and the ones I use the most. Me too to both. :))

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I like binders more than folders, because they’re neater and normally you can get cuter ones. But I use folders because binders are just wayyyy too heavy! 😂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. THE UNIVERSE IS EXPANDING. Or, at least your corner of the blogosphere is expanding. That’s one possible explanation.
    I will always use college ruled notebooks. NEVER wide ruled. Why does wide ruled paper eve EXIST?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Honestly I love when you do these kinds of posts! Wow, you go back to school so early…I don’t start until September. I LOVE Muji pens but I only use them for bullet journaling because I don’t want them to get lost/stolen at school…also I totally agree, Mead 5 star notebooks are the best! And of course I’m team college ruled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh, thank you! That’s very good to hear. Yea, I’ve heard that some places go back to school in September, but I’ve always started in August. I think it balances out with when school ends. Also, have an amazing rest of your summer. :)) I know right? Ooh, I get that. Yes, they’re so nice! And go college ruled.

      Liked by 1 person

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