Back to School: Advice from a College Junior

Aug 11, 2017 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


by Jacob Mauser

Do you have a student heading off to college this year for the first time? Share this blog post with him! Jacob Mauser, a former homeschooled student who grew up using IEW, shares some valuable lessons he learned during his first year living in the dorm. And while you’re at it, consider including a Portable Walls for the Essayist and IEW’s Writing Tools App on the packing list. We are confident they will come in handy!

​Between dual enrollment and my studies at Stetson University, I’ll be a Junior this year, though the upcoming year will only be my second away from home. The short span of time where the bliss of summer break winds down, but before the hustle-and-bustle of the fall semester begins, has long been one of my favorites. It helps that I’m a total nerd for school supplies and constantly find myself picking up new notebooks, pens, and other assorted ephemera. It also helps that I can use the excuse of school’s imminent arrival to pick up a new bag, some more film, or some other trifle that I would otherwise have trouble justifying to myself.

This year, however, I’ve been trying to temper that impulse. I’ve learned a lot over the past two semesters, but perhaps the most important lesson has been the concept of minimalism. I don’t mean the stylish, Apple®-like, early 2010s sci-fi movie minimalism that has found itself in vogue thanks in part to Zuckerberg’s grey t-shirt look, but the more practical kind.

​When I went off to school for the first time, I filled a suitcase to bursting with clothes and then filled three other large bags with assorted stuff. That’s not counting the things that wouldn’t fit in the bags. Our van was packed! Through the course of the semester, I brought even more things to my tiny dorm room—books I hardly touched because I was too busy, cameras that were never used because my trusty thrift-shop Minolta could do whatever I needed it to, fountain pens that I didn’t use because the ones I’d brought with me the first time were better. . .you get the picture. By halfway through the year, I had accrued so much clutter that I couldn’t use my desk or chair. Almost none of the things brought me any sort of true satisfaction, and if they did, the resulting clutter more than made up for it in stress.

I’m cutting back this year. Actually, I’m considering bringing only one or two bags. I’ve learned a lot―take care of both my mental and physical health, don’t always trust first impressions, talk to my professors, and definitely do the reading. When packing, consider the things you really need, and add carefully to that in order to strike a balance. You don’t need to bring only a grey t-shirt and a pair of jeans, but you don’t need everything and the kitchen sink, either.


To read more about Jacob, check out this blog post: Where Are They Now? Jacob Mauser: English Major Extraordinaire.

If you have a student heading to college, here are two very helpful IEW products Jacob takes with him and that don’t take up precious packing space.


Apple is a trademark of Apple, Inc.


Homeschooled through high school, Jacob Mauser currently attends Stetson University and is double majoring in English and Philosophy. In addition to reading literature and writing, he enjoys craft coffee and photography. He hopes to someday earn his Ph.D. and encourage a new generation of learners to reason, think, reflect, and write.

Live Chat with IEW