What do you buy a university student? Buying gifts for college students can be a challenge. They often have limited space and downtime, and you want to respect that (and not distract them from their studies).
The best gifts for college students in 2022 don’t have to be expensive. If you want the gift to be something they will use, aim for something that’s practical and simple. Ask college students directly what they need, if possible—or, to keep the present a surprise, ask their friends.
If they don’t have any suggestions or you don’t feel comfortable asking, you’re in the right place. We have compiled a list of the top 50 useful gifts for college students.
What are the best times to get gifts for college students? You might need gift ideas for students starting university because holidays, birthdays, or other special occasions are coming up. Other times you might be in the market for unique gifts for college students include the start of a new school year, the end of a successful semester, or just to let your college kid know that you are thinking about them.
So, what gifts can you give to students? Below you’ll find the 50 best gift ideas for college students, separated by category.
The Most Practical Gifts for College-Bound Students
Upgrade that high school bookbag to this college-worthy backpack that holds a full-sized laptop computer. We love the anti-theft features, like an integrated combination lock and a special RFID-BLOCKING pocket to safeguard your credit cards and identity, and the built-in USB charging port and cable for convenient device charging.
For today’s college kids, noise-canceling headphones are a need, not just a want. In the library, the dorm room, and common areas across campus, a good pair of noise-canceling wireless headphones will help your college student cut out distractions and focus on their schoolwork, audiobooks, podcasts, music, and more.
Have you ever wondered how dirty your cell phone really is? (Hint: it’s way dirtier than a toilet.) In the midst of the pandemic, your favorite college student will thank you for this handy little device that is clinically proven to kill harmful bacteria with UV rays—all while charging. It fits any phone! PhoneSoap was featured on Shark Tank. It has been seen in other places such as QVC, Good Morning America, and the Discovery Channel.
An external hard drive may not be a fun gift, but it’s a practical one. Your college student will use up tons of digital storage space for papers, projects, presentations, photos, and more. Make sure they never run out of space with this easy-to-use, easy-to-carry external hard drive. Seagate portable external hard drive is 18-inches and comes with a USB 3.0 cable and a quick start guide. This affordable hard drive fits easily into a laptop bag.
No space for a nightstand? No problem. The BedShelfie fits on bed rails or slides between the mattress and the foundation or box spring to provide the space you need for eyeglasses, books, and phones, and devices. You can even get one with a cupholder!
Taking notes is part of college life, but wasteful old-school notebooks don’t have to be. The Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook works with your smartphone, specialized gridded paper made from synthetic materials, and Pilot Frixion Pens so you can take notes, effortlessly upload them to cloud-based systems like Google Drive and Evernote, wipe clean, and repeat.
Living in a dorm disrupts your bathroom routines. This hanging shower caddy holds four full-sized bottles, so your college student will never forget their shampoo in the dorm or run out of space for body wash. The quick-drying coated mesh and moisture-wicking water-resistant polyester fabric won’t get ruined if it gets wet.
Going off to college means living with strangers—and leaving your possessions vulnerable to theft. Help your college student keep their valuables protected with this personal safe by Master Lock that uses a four-digit combination code and comes with a built-in cable that secures the safe to a fixed object.
Keep their laptop in working order and their bodies protected from excessive heat and radiation with the gift of this ergonomic and convenient adjustable laptop desk. The mouse pad and soft cushion are both detachable, and an integrated USB cooling fan prevents device overheating.
Students can take notes the easy way with this battery-powered digital voice recorder. The device records MP3 audio files, and the built-in USB connector allows for seamless transfer directly to a computer. If the 4 GB of internal memory isn’t enough, the user can expand its capacity with a MicroSD card. With 57 hours of battery life, your college student can record lectures or use for projects without worrying about how long it will last.
They may be 18 (or older) now, but you still worry about them like you did when they were eight. They’ll be ready to conquer whatever life throws at them—headaches, stomach aches, colds, minor cuts and burns, and more—with this compact yet comprehensive first aid kit specially designed for college students.
For college students prone to losing their phones, keys, or wallets, this tracker is a lifesaver. Download the Tile app, connect the four “Mates” to a phone via Bluetooth, and attach them to the most commonly misplaced items to easily find it all.
If your college kid can’t imagine life without their favorite virtual assistant, here’s an easy way to take Alexa to school with them. The Echo Dot packs smart AI and a powerful speaker into a compact device—and the 4th-generation features a spherical “ball” three-dimensional design with an LCD clock display.
This portable wireless speaker will allow college students to take their tunes wherever they go—to a party, out on the quad, exploring the local landmarks, and more. This speaker is waterproof, has a battery life of up to 24 hours, and packs superior performance into a compact device.
When you spend hours poring over textbooks, as college students do, the right desk lamp can reduce eye strain and prevent having to crane your neck to see. The energy-efficient OttLite LED lamp has three brightness levels that mimic natural daylight and adjusts to fit a student’s workspace.
Top Gifts for College Students Under $25
It’s the gift you hope they’ll never need: a set of portable personal alarms capable of emitting a 140-decibel scream that can alert people more than 600 feet away. The built-in LED lights and long-lasting battery make the devices convenient to keep in their backpack, in their car, and by their bed. What’s a better gift than peace of mind?
Today’s youths are more environmentally conscious than ever. If the college kid you love prefers to avoid waste, consider purchasing a set of reusable dry-erase sticky notes that wash off like a whiteboard and stick to glass, stainless steel, cabinets and plastic. The manufacturer guarantees they’ll stay sticky for two years.
This set of reusable flatware allows college kids to take food on the go without the expense and waste of disposable plastic utensils. With a fork, spoon, knife, straws, and chopsticks, this portable set includes everything students need to dine on the go—and packing lunch even a couple of times per week can save them money.
Laptops, smartphones, tablets, wireless headphones—with every device requiring its own charger, college kids have a lot of cables, cords, and plugs to manage. With more than a dozen pockets, pouches, loops, and slots, this heavy-duty yet lightweight organizer bag will keep it all in check.
There’s nothing cool about lugging trash bags filled with dirty clothes to the laundry facilities. This hanging nylon hamper holds up to 44 pounds of laundry—up to three loads—and transforms into a backpack with wide, fully adjustable shoulder straps. A mesh pocket on the outside holds detergent and fabric softener.
Light up the walls of their dorm room with this set of affordable and ingenious string lights that double as photo clips. It’s the perfect, no-frames-required way for today’s college students to display their favorite people, places, and memories in style. These clips can also hold artwork, decorations, and more.
Looking at a computer screen for long stretches of time can give you a headache, even if you’re young. Since writing papers will be part of your college student’s life for the foreseeable future, these unisex blue-light-blocking glasses can help reduce the eye strain that comes with extended use of computers.
When the dorm room gets uncomfortably hot, this small but powerful fan will come to the rescue with low, medium, and high-speed settings. This six-ounce fan plugs in with a USB cable, so you can run it from your computer, a power bank, or a USB charger plugged into a traditional outlet.
College students have a lot to balance: class schedules, homework, studying, extracurriculars, work and internships, sports, and more—not to mention managing living on their own for the first time. This to-do pad helps them break it all down into tasks, errands, correspondence, and notes, so nothing slips through the cracks.
If you know your college student does their best thinking in the shower, consider giving them this nifty waterproof notepad. Included suction cups allow the user to mount the pad directly to the shower wall, and the unique waterproof pages are recyclable and made with environmentally conscious processes.
When a college student is always on the go, their devices are sure to get a little dirty. With soft microfiber cleaning surfaces and luxurious vegan leatherbacks that come in numerous eye-catching prints, these cleaning pads keep screens smear-free for better visibility and usability. This affordable and practical screen cleaner makes a great gift!
They may not know it yet, but that little touchpad built into their laptop is slowing them down. This wildly popular wireless mouse, available in 25 colors, will help them streamline their computer work. Plug the receiver directly into the USB drive, and they’re ready to work (or play) instantly.
Inspirational Gifts for College Students
This 90-day productivity journal is just what college students need to pass that upper-level class, balance extracurriculars, or land an internship. This undated planner allows the user to start the first week of the semester and break down the steps to reaching goals by month, week, and day.
College is the perfect time to begin building good habits for the future. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones is a practical guide that draws upon the science of making and breaking habits to help set your college student up for success.
Everyone could stand to drink more water, but remembering to do so—not to mention having the supply on hand—is another story. The 32-ounce HydroMATE water bottle will keep your college kid hydrated all day, no matter where on campus they go. Motivational quotes correspond to times of day, making drinking water more fun.
The Best Gifts for College Students Who Are Homesick
If it’s their first time being far from home, send them some comfort food from their favorite hometown restaurant to ward off feelings of homesickness. Goldbelly sends favorite entrees, baked goods, and more from the most recognizable restaurants in cities in every region of the United States.
Smells can immerse a nostalgic college student in memories of home. Homesick Candles produces specially crafted candles that capture the scent and spirit of every state in the U.S. and more than 20 major cities. If your college student isn’t allowed to burn candles, bundle this gift with an electric candle warmer.
33. Friendship Lamp
For university students who have mixed feelings about being far from home, friendship lamps can make this transition easier. These color-changing Wi-Fi-connected touch lamps link across long distances, so you and your college student can stay connected no matter where they are. A simple tap on their lamp will light up yours, and vice versa.
The Best Gifts for Hungry College Students
What do college students buy the most? Most likely, food. That’s why dorm life with a mini-fridge is way better than dorm life without one. Store up to four liters, or six 12-ounce soda cans, in this compact quiet-running unit with dimensions of under 10 x 7.5 x 11 inches. This mini-fridge is eco-friendly and you can choose from 5 different colors. It can also be used to keep items warm.
Getting their caffeine fix at home is much more affordable than stopping by a Starbucks or the campus café each morning. This Keurig single-serve machine is the perfect dorm-sized coffee maker and works with prepackaged K-Cups, as well as ground coffee placed in a K-Cup Universal Reusable Coffee Filter.
The Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker lets college students make iced coffee from the comfort of their dorm. By adding their favorite ground coffee to the filter and placing the sealed bottle in the mini-fridge for 12 to 24 hours, students can make up to two quarts of cold-brew coffee in this small brewer. This cold brew maker is leak-proof and durable. You can use it to make hot or cold coffee.
If the college student you’re buying for prefers tea, this electric kettle is ideal for making a cup of tea without the fuss—or, for dorm-dwellers, without the stovetop required to heat a traditional kettle. What makes this electric kettle “ultra” is the fast-boil feature, Boil-dry safety sensors, and auto-shutoff features to prevent accidents.
Keep their coffee warm all day long with the COSORI coffee warmer. Plug it in and adjust the heat settings to your desired temperature—up to 230°F (getting the beverage temperature up to 158°F). The included 17-ounce stainless steel mug with cool-touch handle sits atop a spill-resistant heating plate with an easy-to-clean LCD display.
Popcorn is the ultimate college kid snack: it’s cheap to buy, simple to make, virtually mess-free, and versatile enough to be salty, sweet, savory, or spicy, depending on how you flavor it. This collapsible yet durable silicone popcorn popper makes delicious popcorn in the microwave, no oil or measuring required.
Broke college kids live on ramen, but at least it can be perfectly cooked ramen with this microwavable cooker available in more than a dozen fun colors. The Rapid Ramen Cooker fully cooks noodles in as little as three minutes and is BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, and made to last for their whole college experience.
The Best Gifts for Stressed College Students
Coloring books aren’t just for children. For adults, coloring can reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve focus. This tongue-in-cheek coloring book captures the college experience and the college student mindset. Consider gifting a set of adult-quality colored pencils to go with it.
Stress balls are good, but stretch balls are even better for college students under pressure. College students coping with frustration over a group project or anxiety about a big exam can take out their feelings on these smooth rubbery stress balls that can be squished, squeezed, stretched, bounced, and tossed.
Essential oils aren’t a cure-all, and they’re not a substitute for clinically proven anxiety medication for those who need it. However, for college students managing the routine (yet challenging) demands of higher education, a roll-on topical treatment that uses essential oils can quickly provide a natural, drug-free calming experience.
With this easy-to-use diffuser, essential oils can also spread a calming vibe throughout the dorm room. This tiny color-changing device is a combination diffuser and humidifier, so college students can also use it with no oils to keep the air from getting too dry during the cooler months.
Affordable Gifts for College Students—Guys
Your favorite college guy is going to need something to keep him warm during long treks across campus when the weather turns chilly. A breathable, sweat-wicking hoodie from Under Armour is sure to do the trick, trapping heat inside with the inner layer of soft, brushed fleece.
Don’t send your boy off to college without the (literal) tools he needs to live on his own. This affordable basic tool kit includes durable chrome vanadium steel tools, such as a hammer and screwdrivers, as well as a set of Allen wrenches, a utility knife, a tape measure, and more.
Eighteen tools in one unit the size of a credit card—what more could a college guy need to get by on his own? The Wallet Ninja has four types of screwdrivers and six hex head nuts and bolts, and it’s the perfect compact tool for measuring, opening bottles, cans, and boxes, and more.
Top Gifts for College Students—Girl
Some of the best gifts for college girls are these popular Fengbay yoga pants. These comfortable, flattering yoga pants come in numerous colors and prints and will help her look and feel her best while studying, exercising, or just relaxing. The best part: they have pockets!
Broke college kids can’t always afford a mani-pedi, but you’ve got your girl covered with this professional-quality do-it-yourself salon gel polish kit by Sally Hansen. The kit includes everything she needs for 10 salon-quality gel manicures, including the LED light to “cure” her nails, and will last all semester long.
The rose gold trend doesn’t end with jewelry. This gorgeous and practical rose gold desk organizer is one of the best college girl gifts in 2021. The desk organizer comes in two sizes, either of which is sure to add a bit of sparkle to her space on campus.
If you’re shopping for a college student, one of these gift ideas is sure to hit the mark. These suggestions (with the exception of iconic food gifts from Goldbelly) happen to all be among the best amazon gifts for college students, which is perfect when you need to get the present to a recipient who is far away.