A Semi-Practical Guide for Back-to-School Shopping

By Tina Chen

Welcome back, [yet-to-be-determined Harvard mascots] and loyal Flyby readers! Read on to find out what you need to acquire for this school year, and perhaps what to add to your CVS list. From conquering frat flu to securing that name brand internship, we’ll touch on every essential aspect of Harvard life.

An iPad and Apple Pencil

Calling all STEM majors or anyone taking a math class: you need these in your life as soon as utterly possible, or else you’ll waste multiple trees trying to perfect your pset. Not only will this magical device save you paper, but it will also save you ~unavoidable back pain~ in the future. If you need one more reason to get this combo, buying these Apple products basically forces you to be productive. You can’t buy them just to not do your pset. If you don’t like doing homework, an iPad might just be enough to guilt you into it.

Frat Flu Remedies

Make your sickness survival kit now. You’re going to want all the cough drops, Tylenol, and DayQuil you can get your hands on. Trust us, you’ll thank us after you go out on Halloween and wake up with more than just a headache. You don’t go out? Those random coughing kids in lecture are going to transfer their ~mystery illness~ to you one way or another. The last thing you want is to add a CVS run to your schedule when you’re sick right before having to take three midterms back-to-back.

Halloween Outfits

Speaking of Halloween, it’s the one weekend where Harvard students forget about their psets and internship searches. It might be the only time you see your pset group out in the wild (aka Harvard Square) so you’re going to want an Insta-worthy outfit for it. Some ideas for the perfect outfit: cat ears, devil horns, a Dean Khurana selfie dynamic duo costume (up for interpretation), our beloved CVS, a Harvard Shop employee, a CS50 kid, a ghost, a Taylor Swift concert outfit, and that pset that you swore you would start before the day that it was due.

Breakfast Bars

Harvard kids never make it to breakfast, but we still gotta eat. Especially if you like to maximize sleep and don’t have a habit of sitting down for the first meal of the day, buy some kind of breakfast or protein bar you can grab before you make that five-minute sprint to lecture. It’ll save you the embarrassment of your stomach rumbling in your morning class for the next hour.

Photos That Make It Seem Like You Have Time For Friends

You’ll not only have very cute room decor, but also have memories to long for while you’re buried in psets and papers during midterm week. Whether it be photos of your high school friends, blocking group, or Visitas besties – print them out and stick them on your walls!


Let’s face it. At least a couple of tears will fall some time this semester, maybe even multiple times. From midterm seasons and comp rejections to Remy’s refusal to be pet by you, or simply the chilling darkness of Boston winter, there will likely be moments of frustration this fall. It’s better to take advantage of the back-to-school sale and stock up on tissue boxes now instead of going to CVS at 2 a.m. with tears streaming down your face.

Outfits for Your Dean Khurana Selfie

It doesn’t matter how many awards you have, research articles you publish, or newspapers with your accomplishments framed at home — your Dean Khurana selfie is your No. 1 claim to fame at Harvard. So, let this be the justification you need for doing some last minute online shopping and pray that when Dean Khurana sees you in the Yard for your long-awaited selfie, you will not be wearing a hoodie.

Triple Espresso Shots from CVS

In an ideal world, Starbucks would not close at the early hour of 9 p.m. (Seriously? We’re on a college campus here!) Alas. At least you can always get the triple shots from CVS to get you through the long hours of psetting and essay grinding. Although, for your sake, I hope you can delay the inevitable usage of caffeine for late nights for as long as you can.

A Functional Sleep Schedule (and Melatonin)

This is maybe the most important — a functional sleep schedule. It will take discipline and lots of self-care, but eight-hours of sleep per night will do wonders for your health and ability to function the next day! If not, for my fellow perpetual night owls, I’ve been told melatonin works wonders…

A Job Offer

You know what would be great in this economy? Job security. If only there was a way I can add a job offer into a cart, skip all stress and pain and tears from the job hunt, and place the order for a six-figure, fulfilling, life changing, non-soul crushing career in NYC. Sigh. If anyone knows the trick, please let me in.

And so commences a new school year. I hope you end up getting all your shopping done before you drown in readings. Whether you’re freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors, enjoy these first few weeks before the pace of the year truly picks up!

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