I bought this bag for school (I am a college student) and let me tell you, it is absolutely perfect for the average female student! It took me actually a few weeks to decide on a backpack because I was being SUPER picky; I was tired of messenger bags hurting my shoulder, I wanted comfort & support for my small frame, and I did NOT want anything huge or bulky (because I am short I found this to be the biggest obstacle). Plus it had to be pretty.
I compared reviews on several websites and mulled over dimensions before finally settling on this bag. For the average college student who does NOT need to carry all their notebooks and texts at the same time, this is the ideal bag. I can fit 2 - 3 spiral-bound notebooks, plus several average-sized texts (I have no huge hardcover books to tell you how they'd fit). I have room for a water bottle and some lunch. I do not have to carry around my laptop, but my 15" PowerBook does *just* fit. Also the front pocket is perfect for pens, some money, keys, ID card, glasses; whatever loose things I need to toss in there. The side mesh pockets hold my phone and lipgloss currently, for easy access.
I was initially torn on whether a smaller bag would work for school, but I'm so happy I went with it. I would not recommend this bag for the college girl who actually has to carry all of their books with them, but since most people have time between classes I don't see that being a problem. This backpack is a fantastic investment in my opinion; it's durable, has enough room, and is comfortable on the back.