Yes you could put pencils, pens etc in the pouch pockets, and there are two main compartments one could hold a laptop and the other your books. I use it as a work pack.
Yes. It has three zippered sections. I have carried my 15" notebook PC and IPad in the largest section. There' is also a zippered water bladder section that can hold the notebook PC if you don't have a water bladder in it. Use mostly for outdoor activities and am very pleased with pack.