Bearing the weight of success

By Erica Marracco

When I walk around campus, I notice how students either carry their backpacks with the confidence of Paris Hilton toting around her little Pomeranian, or slouched over with back pain that just writes “mental anguish” all over their face.

I look to my side at my overflowing messenger bag and can’t help but pity myself as I switch the strap to my other poor shoulder only to feel the cramping come back and switch again soon after.  

Naturally, I was curious to find out how many students are suffering like me. With a portable gym scale I took the weight of 100 students’ backpacks.

I was gaping in horror at seeing 30-plus pounds read across my scale at times, but it seems the super heavy bags were the outliers. Turns out the average student carries about 15 pounds of school stuff in their bag.

When I asked 50 students if they felt they were weighing themselves down with their backpacks, 25 of them said no, that they were comfortable. The rest said “sometimes” and “yes.”

So if half of the student population feels like they carry too much, if my small sample is an accurate representation, then why are we breaking our backs? Are there any alternatives?

It’s common to read on a syllabus that the professor has put copies of their class texts on hold at Kresge Library. Taking advantage of this means one less book to carry and saving money by not having to purchase or rent it.

Some students use their car as a locker.

”I carry a lot of things in my backpack,” junior computer science major Andrew Alisa said. “If I have a day when my back really hurts, I just leave a book or two in my car and go back when I need them later.”

Another solution to a sore backside is using a backpack on wheels. A decent one can be found on Amazon for around $35. They may look kind of gaudy, but hey, they were invented for this reason.

For the 71 percent of students who take their laptop to campus, one option is to replace those thick textbooks with the eBook version so you manage to carry less. I’ve even found copies of some popular academic books on the internet for free. If students put in the effort to look around online, they can potentially lessen the burdens on their backs.

Prioritizing what one brings to school can really be beneficial. Finding some time to discover what works best just might spare a student a backache later.