Looking for the best gifts for college students?
Look no further!
In this guide, we give you the best gift ideas for students, from things to help their productivity to presents for their health to simply sentimental items.
Whether you’re shopping for your child, friend, significant other, or some other university attendee, freshman, grad student or otherwise, these college gift ideas are sure to make ‘em smile.
And disclaimer — no disclaimer needed! No affiliate links below, just straight authentic college gift ideas and suggestions.
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Here are our picks for the best gifts for college students:
Useful Gifts for College Students’ Productivity
A New Cell Phone
There’s no single gift more useful than a new mobile phone, and this is true for just about anyone, but especially for college students. From taking notes to navigating around campus to calling family members back home, a new smartphone makes a great present.
If you can afford it, you can go all the way and get one of the best phones out there, such as an iPhone, the Google Pixel, or the Samsung Note. Try to determine which ecosystem they prefer (iOS or Android), as well as other factors, such as their penchant for photography, gaming, etc.
However, if you want to gift your student something that’s easier on the wallet, consider any of a number of budget phones (usually Android), such as Samsung’s Galaxy A series, Motorola’s Moto G family, or LG’s K series phones.
Wireless Mouse & Keyboard
A student might head into university with just their laptop, but, to increase their productivity, a wireless mouse and keyboard combo make excellent college gifts. Here are a few of the favorites:
- HP Wireless Elite Keyboard and Mouse
- Logitech MX900 Performance Combo
- Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5050
- Logitech MK710 Wireless Desktop
- Apple Magic Keyboard & Magic Mouse 2
The Kindle is the standard when it comes to e-readers, and the Kindle Oasis is one of the best college gift ideas you could consider. From flipping through textbooks with ease to taking notes to being light and slim enough to carry anywhere, the Oasis is the best of the best. It’s waterproof, easy on the eyes, and even lets you listen to the audiobook version of the book you’re reading easily and effortlessly.
If the college student you’re thinking about still prefers a physical pen and paper to digitized options, a yearly planner would be a win.
Some of the best planners for students are:
- Clever Fox Planner
- LEUCHTTURM1917 Academic Weekly Planner
- Moleskine 18-Month Daily Planner
- ban.do 17-Month Academic Planner
Though many college essentials have gone digital, students still need a bag to schlep it all around in. There are limitless options for choosing a backpack, from style to usage to features and more. So, we’ll let the experts over at The New York Times’ Wirecutter help you choose the best backpack for college students: Our Favorite High School and College Backpacks For Students.
Electronics Gifts for College Students
Portable Bluetooth Speaker
A portable bluetooth speaker is one of the best gifts for college students. They can use it for relaxing or productivity-boosting music, carry it easily in their backpacks, and no need for pesky wires getting tangled and forgotten.
Here are some of the best options:
Smart Home Speaker
If you say aloud “Alexa, what’s the best gift to get a college student?,” it might just have to say itself! With a smart speaker, your student can get instant help with questions by simply speaking out loud, control connected devices such as lights or coffeemakers, and even read you the news, among so many other things.
Sometimes, students just need to keep that noise to themselves, while also keeping distractions from outside sounds out.
Here are some of the best noise-cancelling headphones on the market:
- Beats Solo Pro Wireless Noise Cancelling On-Ear Headphones
- Anker Soundcore Life Q20
- Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
- Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Fire TV Stick looks like a plain ol’ USB drive from back in the day. However, it’s actually one of the most advanced and most popular streaming media players out there.
For just $39.99 in the US, you get the Fire TV Stick and the Alexa Voice Remote. All you need to do is connect the stick to an HDMI port on the back of your TV, and you now have access to it all, including Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV, HBO, and more. With the Alexa Voice Remote, you can speak your commands and do smart home-related tasks, such as turn on/off lights, run the Roomba, and set the thermostat.
Smart Watch / Fitness Tracker
Like the Alexa Remote, a smart watch can do it all. From answering calls and navigating with maps to tracking your heart rate and counting steps, smart watches are some of the most popular gifts for university students.
Here are a few of the best:
Gift Ideas for College Students’ Dorm
Some Wall Art or a Painting
Nothing makes a dorm room or student apartment more their own than installing a unique piece of art somewhere prominent.
For something handcrafted and sure to be unique, hit up Etsy. For a mind-bogglingly large collection of art to choose from, check out the appropriately named Art.com. Other great places to try for dorm paintings, posters, and other artsy gifts include Society6, Saatchi Art, Minted, and the MoMA Design Store.
As Melissa Clark writes in The New York Times, “the Instant Pot — a device that combines an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker and yogurt maker in one handy unit — sends even mild-mannered cooks into fits of passion.”
The Instant Pot is a favorite for anyone, and college students would love its ability to do so many things in one small package. There are several models to choose from, from 6-in-1 basic Instant Pots up through to an 11-in-1 Instant Pot Duo Crisp (adds an air fryer and more).
Instant Pots are quite ubiquitous nowadays, which also makes them easy to purchase. You can find this item at Amazon, Walmart, Target, and other stores where kitchen appliances are sold.
Dorm rooms are all about students maximizing the little amount of space they’re allotted. If your student’s room doesn’t come with a refrigerator, a mini fridge makes a great present. Not only can they store their daily shakes, ice creams, and salads, but it can double as a table, as well, or even a nightstand.
Coffee Maker or Espresso Machine
Coffee is life.
A basic drip coffee maker can set you back as little as $25–$50 and makes a fine college present. If you have a little more cash to spend, you can go with a machine with all the bells and whistles, such as programmable timers, heated reservoirs, and a built-in coffee grinder. And, if you want to go all out, you might consider an espresso machine with a steaming wand.
NutriBullet is a brand of powerful, simple blenders used for making smoothies, shakes, and whipping up other healthy concoctions—perfect for the college kid on the go.
Its form factor is slim, ensuring it doesn’t take up too much precious dorm real estate, but each blender is powerful enough to chop through the toughest fruits and vegetables with ease.
Choose an economical personal blender, such as the NutriBullet Pro or NutriBullet Rx, or go with one of their more powerful and feature-heavy models, such as their Blender Combo or Juicer.
Health & Hygiene Gifts for Someone Going to College
The Swedish brand Foreo is very hot these days, well-known around the world for making handheld facial massagers which work to clean, soften, and reinvigorate your skin. Its gentle vibrations help to exfoliate dead skin, unclog those pores, and remove oil and dirt.
Sleep Eye Mask
If your student needs to share their dorm with one or several roommates, sleep may be hard to come by when each one may be on a different class schedule. To help alleviate this stress, a sleep eye mask may be just what they need.
While eye masks for sleeping and blocking light may seem quite basic, there’s a whole industry built around them. From silk masks to weighted masks to contoured and quilted sleep masks, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Light Therapy Lamp
Light therapy was created to combat the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression brought on when there are more dark days, especially during the middle of winter. And, if your student is a desk-bound bookworm, they might require light therapy more than most. A light therapy lamp can help lift their mood, enhance their sleep, ease depression, and fight off other negative effects of SAD.
Other Great Things College Students Want
Card Games or Board Games
From rainy days to laid-back weekends, simple board games and card games fill up any downtime with hours of fun—at a very reasonable price!
Here a a few game ideas that make for great college gifts:
- Cards Against Humanity
- Exploding Kittens
- What Do You Meme?
- Drawing Without Dignity
- The Awkward Storyteller
One of the most useful gifts for college students, in my opinion, is a great blazer. A blazer makes a great piece for going out, heading to job interviews, and simply looking smart and professional. If your student is simply wearing jeans and a T-shirt, throwing a blazer on transforms the whole look into something for dinners, classroom presentations, and just about any situation you can think of.
For great blazers for women:
For smart blazers for men:
Memory Foam Pillow
College students spend a lot of time with their pillows, from sleep to reading textbooks to studying in bed. To give a college student a gift they’ll be sure to appreciate, give them a memory foam pillow. Studies have shown that using one helps to relieve chronic neck pain, a common ailment among desk-bound students!
Or, the Ostrich Pillow.
The Ostrich Pillow is a full-head pillow with an opening for your face (to breathe) and two holes for your arms. With it, you can fall asleep in virtually every situation you find yourself in, and from every angle!
- Audible – Audiobook subscription with extras.
- Kindle Unlimited – Ebook subscription, unlimited reading.
- Blue Apron – Meal delivery where you prepare the food at home.
- Todoist – The most helpful to-do list app available.
- Amazon Prime – No introduction needed.
- The New York Times – The best journalism, recipes, crosswords, and more.
- Birchbox – Monthly subscription service for beauty and grooming products.
Budget Gifts for Students Under $50
Modern gadgets are great, but only until their batteries run out. To keep your busy student powered up, get them a portable charger. These small, brick-shaped blocks provide multiple full-phone charges throughout the day, a perfect present for a college student, whether during their weekends, travels, or everyday lives.
Power / USB Cables
You can never have enough cables, especially when you’re a college student with multiple devices. If you’re looking for cheap gifts for students, perhaps for a Christmas stocking stuffer or for a budget housewarming present, a pack of cables is more useful than anything else, just about.
Books for College Students
University goers already have plenty to consume, with their backpacks full of textbooks, notes, and study materials. So, send them something they’ll enjoy reading, instead! Here are a few of our curated lists with great books to gift college students:
- 15 Books to Read Before College for High School Students and Graduates
- 25+ Books for College Students to Read in University (2020 Edition)
- 25+ Best History Books of All Time for a Solid Understanding of Our World
- 10+ Best Business Books to Read for Aspiring Entrepreneurs in 2020
The Tile Mate is a perfect present for students who have a lot of important and expensive items. Shaped as a small, credit card-sized square with a hole on one corner, they can simply clip it (using a string or carabiner) to purses, key rings, backpacks, gym bags, and other things to ensure they never lose or forget them again!
Pre-Filled Toolbox With the Essentials
If you want a useful present for college students that is friendly on your wallet, get them a toolbox. Fill it with the important items, such as a few screwdrivers, a hammer, a set of Allen keys, assorted nuts, bolts, and screws, an adjustable wrench, packs of nails, a tape measure, socket set, and a utility knife. Oh, and top it off with the most important tool of all – duct tape!
Well, that’s our guide on the best gifts for college students, and we hope it helps you decide what to get the university student in your life! Got any questions, feedback, or other great college gifts to buy? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!