College Media Mad Money #2: How Much is the Stuff in Students’ Backpacks Worth? (@CityCollegeNews)

Apparently, the adage is simple: It’s not the backpack, but what’s in it that counts.  A recent survey by staffers at City College News, the student newspaper at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, determined that students on average pack items into their backpacks daily that total more than $500.

As CCN staff writer Nancy Humphys notes, “Losing a backpack with textbooks, a cellphone, laptop computer and wallet with cash, ID’s, bus card and credit cards can add up to a large financial loss to a student.”  The background of the survey– its breadth, depth, sample questions, etc.– is not mentioned and the focus of the article then shifts to basic safety tips.  But the huge monetary figure definitely caught my eye.

Bottom line: It’s time for some (actual) backpack reporting.

Related Questions

What are the most common and quirky items students slip into their backpacks, purses, wallets, fanny packs, and pockets?  Sticking with just backpacks, how much do the items add to up, in dollars and pounds (weight, not UK currency)?  How protective are students over their more expensive belongings?  How often do various items get used, and in what ways?  What is the most carried but least utilized stuff students pack and carry with them each day?  Are there any differences in the type of packed items, or their relative expense, among students in different majors or from different parts of the state or country?  And what are the items students have with them that they most wish they could leave at home or do without?

Multimedia Options

1) A video breakdown of students unloading their backpacks and discussing the back-stories and relative merits of the items they pull out.  2) A photo slideshow of the oddest or most meaningful items students have stored in their bags and the stories of how they relate to their day-to-day routine or upbringing.  (My guess: You’ll be featuring things like photos of deceased or overseas family members, a stuffed animal or two, and a random key with an “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” narrative behind it.)

Offbeat Options

1) Find and profile students with the greatest amount or most expensive set of backpack swag.  2) Or go in the opposite direction.  Find and profile the “Cult of Less” students who get by with hardly anything on their backs or in their pockets.  3) Separately, feature an interactive photo matching game online, asking readers to correctly guess the backpack item belonging to each student pictured (possibly breaking down stereotypes of what readers might expect a student hipster or math major or sorority girl or student-athlete to have with them).

One Response to “College Media Mad Money #2: How Much is the Stuff in Students’ Backpacks Worth? (@CityCollegeNews)”
  1. It’s not surprising at all considering the popularity of ipads and fancy phones like the iphone or blackberry with students. Most carry some type of tech gadgets with them on a daily basis.