Posted on by Liz Ladlow

Back to School - Student Essentials

So you've got a place at University - congratulations! You're probably feeling very excited right now and with good reason. Heading off to Uni is a major milestone in life and for most, the first time living away from home. Although exciting, the thought of fending for yourself alone can also be a bit scary but don't worry, we are here to help! We have done a bit of research for you and put together a guide of all the essentials you are going to need at the start of term.

First things first - documents. If you are a fresher you are going to need your course acceptance and university admission letters, along with any documents relating to student finance (loans, bursaries, scholarships etc). Some form of ID such as a passport or driving license will be required and a chequebook to pay shared bills or society trips. Knowing your National Insurance number is handy and make sure you know your current account details!

Now on to the more fun stuff! You will need a computer, preferably a laptop so it can easily be transported to the library or for presentations. A bag such as the Barbour International Blackburne Laptop Bag is a great way to carry your laptop safely. It has a versatile detachable and adjustable shoulder strap so you can carry your belongings whichever way if most comfortable for you. The polyester outer and webbing handles mean this a strong hard wearing bag, whilst remaining lightweight. Inside it is suitably padded to protect your laptop, with a separate sleeve pocket to help keep things organised and more than enough room for your charger too. Two front pockets provide a bit of extra storage for small items like your USB or Mobile Wifi/Data Dongle, which are a great way of having internet access on your laptop if you don't have direct internet access.

Don't need anything as big as a bag? A Laptop Sleeve is what you need. Paul Smith have a fab range of quirky sleeves that can fit up to 17in laptops. Well padded for protection, they are the best choice if you want to keep your laptop clean and safe but don't need to carry chargers etc with you. 

Talking of internet access, most rooms in halls will have a network socket for direct internet access but you will need an Ethernet cable to connect to it. Often universities provide network cables but to be sure, take a spare cable just in case. 

You will need a printer with full ink cartridges. Those assignments aren't going to print themselves and queues for library printers can get pretty big. Try to look for one with affordable ink cartridge replacements; a cheap printer isn't as much of a bargain if ink cartridges cost as much as the printer to replace!  

Your iPad will be a welcome luxury when your settling into your new home. You can fill it with photos or music that remind you of family and friends so when you're feeling a bit homesick you can scroll through and stay positive. Its also a much better size to Skype or Facetime on. A padded sleeve such as the Paul Smith Mini Rufford Park Zip Around Case is slim enough to slide in a bag or drawer but thick enough to protect you iPad. It also doubles up as great artwork if you prop it up on a shelf or window sill.

If you regularly need to transport your iPad or binge watch box sets on it, a tablet cover with a built in stand is your best bet. The Paul Smith Swirl Print Leather Tablet Cover features a back than can be adapted into a stand which is handy if you want to watch anything on it. Its slim enough to fit in your bag and the hard cover protects it well during transit.

You shouldn't forget your phone since they are usually found surgically attached to your hand, but we will remind you all the same! Essential for keeping in contact with new friends and those calls home to loved ones, try and get a hard case to protect it for when you inevitably drop it on a night out. A moulded case like Paul Smith Bicycle Print iPhone Case protects not only the back of your phone but also the sides. It also looks pretty snazzy with an eye catching graphic print. Don't forget your charger. In fact if you have more than one, take both. You'll probably lose one in your first term.

All these electronic goodies will need a lot of sockets to work/charge, so make sure to pack at least one extension cable. You'll be grateful when your laptop, iPad and phone are running out of juice but you still need to print work off. 

Lectures will be a requisite part of your course so be prepared in advance. You'll need an A4 paper pad to jot notes on and pens/pencils/highlighters to do the jotting. A stapler will be needed to keep paperwork together and a ring binder or folder to organise it into modules.


Often you will be given a list of books required before starting your course. Bring all of these with you as you may need them for your first lecture. A strong bag such as the Longchamp Le Pliage Large Tote is the best thing to carry them all in. Large enough to carry an A4 folder, with sturdy leather shoulder straps and a zip top to keep your belongings secure, this lightweight nylon bag is a student staple. When not in use simply fold it away. If you are after something smaller, try the Le Pliage Document Holder which is perfectly proportioned to take anything of A4 size. It has a grab handle so you can carry it easily and a front zip for easy access. 

If you prefer a backpack to a shoulder bag there are plenty of options too. Barbour have a fantastic range of comfortable, lightweight backpacks, our favourite being the Navigator Backpack. We love the generous size and simple styling of this bag. Padded shoulder straps make this super comfy especially if you are carrying a lot of weighty textbooks and it has an inner slip pocket too, ideal for tablets or laptops. The drawstring closure keeps all your belongings extra secure under the flap, reassuring if you have a lot valuable items. A more compact backpack option would be the Longchamp Le Pliage. Not as spacious as the Barbour, but if you need a smaller bag that's versatile and on trend, this is perfect.

Moving on to accommodation, a lot of basic items will be provided by your university including kettles and a microwave if you are self catering. Simply check the details of your accommodation as it can vary from campus to campus. What you will need is basic utensils. A small saucepan such as the Judge Taurus 16cm Saucepan will be just the right size for one and comes with a lid to help cook things evenly and extra quick. A baking or pizza tray like the Prestige Create Tray can be used to cook most food in the oven. Cutlery will be needed but only buy a small set; enough for one or two should be sufficient. Don't buy massive crockery sets, just individual plates and bowls - remember there is only you! The same goes for mugs, although cheap sets of glasses can be useful as they are easily broken. One good kitchen knife is a must, but sometimes it is better value to buy a set of 2 or 3. Tupperware can be used to store leftovers in, saving on more cooking and a pair of scissors to get in packets/cut your pizza into pieces. 

Don't forget to pack a small first aid kit including any medication you currently take, painkillers and plasters. A sewing kit will come in use for small repairs, always handy when your working to a budget. Toilet roll will become like gold dust so take a roll or two; it can also be used in place of kitchen roll or Kleenex. Once your settled in your accommodation, do take the time out to register with a GP. If you wait until you are ill, the delays can be lengthy, ultimately delaying your required treatment. Obviously pack enough clothes, making sure you include a waterproof coat and a smart outfit for potential interviews. Bedding is usually not provided in your room, so take something that will stamp your personality on it. 

The most important thing? Enjoy the experience! 

All items featured can be found in store at Sinclairs Sheffield. Selected items are available on 

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