15 Must-Have Gifts for College Students

College is an exciting time for young adults to discover new subjects, new friends, and…..new ways to realize they forgot things during the move. If you have a friend or family member hitting the books and the dorm halls this fall, here are a few thoughtful gifts for college students they’ll love. After all, home might not be around the corner anymore for your favorite freshmen, and these unique comforts might be just what they need to tackle their next study session:

For Late-Night Classes and Labs:

A woman clips a rose gold iMax Alarm personal security alarm to her purse

Feel at ease when walking home

Colleges typically go out of their way to keep pathways well-lit and security patrols around parking lots, but a little extra peace of mind can go a long way. This personal security alarm is smaller than a bottle of travel hand sanitizer, hangs in easy reach on a purse or backpack. At the first sign of trouble, a light squeeze produces an alarm so loud it rivals a jet engine: 130 decibels, to be exact.

A black 5-in-1 pepper spray from Plegium sits next to phone with the Plegium safety app pulled up

Always have a backup plan

For longer walks across campus or through unfamiliar areas, this Bluetooth-enabled pepper spray takes safety to the next level. When the easy flip-top trigger is pressed, any potential assailant up to 10 feet away is hit with pepper spray, disoriented by a bright strobe light, and targeted by a very loud alarm. When the unit is used, it also texts and calls up to five trusted contacts from the user’s phone to alert them to the situation and to provide the user’s exact GPS location.

Navy and gray PIORAMA expandable duffel bags are seen next to books and a pair of men's shoes

Take a load off, or make carrying it around even easier

Whether hitting the gym or hitting the books, your favorite night owl needs to carry a lot around campus. Make the journey between the classroom and the comfort of their dorm bed a little easier with this adjustable duffel bag. With three different expandable sizes, they’ll always have a perfectly-proportioned bag for textbooks, lab supplies, or a change of clothes after a workout at the campus gym.

For the Social Butterfly:

A woman is seen organizing her makeup with a pink The Matte's over-the-sink makeup mat

Create more space to get ready

When getting ready to go out, students will often be at the mercy of tiny sinks and cluttered counters in their dorm bathrooms. This neatly-stowable makeup mat unfolds across the sink, giving them room for their styling tools, hairbrushes, palettes, and other beauty necessities. Once they perfect their look, they can simply tuck their makeup back into a purse or bag and stash the folded-up platform in the nearest drawer for next time.

A man is seen re-capping his navy beer BottleKeeper

Keep your beer cold and fresh

Legal-age college guys and college girls might enjoy a beer every now and then, so why not make sure they enjoy a cold beverage when they do? These water bottle look-alikes are designed to contain and insulate a longneck glass beer bottle and everything in between. This keeps every sip refreshingly icy, and it works for glass bottle sodas, too.

A family is seen playing Bounce Battle around a coffee table

All fun and games, no messy cleanup

Beer pong has been a staple of on-campus parties for decades, but it’s a lot of work to set up, and a huge pain to clean up, too. Plus, who wants to drink beer after a dirty ping-pong ball gets dunked in it? Instead, bring this booze-free bounce battle game set to the party, which takes bounce accuracy to the next level by allowing players to try out tic-tac-toe or HORSE on multiple levels. No more splashes of beer, no more floor funk in their favorite beverages: win!

For the Hungry Studier:

A person presses fresh coffee with Palmpress on a counter next to their breakfast

Try an eco-friendly, single-serve coffee maker

With restrictions on the appliances allowed in dorms and common areas, getting a good cup of coffee at college used to be a challenge. This manual single-serve coffee press neatly solves the issue with a wire-free, full-flavored alternative to single-use coffee pods. Built slightly bigger than a hockey puck when collapsed, it’s easy to take on the go as well—perfect for those way-too-early pre-req classes.

A man is seen walking and drinking from his THERO temperature-controlled travel mug

Never wait to enjoy your coffee again

With some reviewers wondering if “sorcery” is the magic technology behind this temperature controlled travel mug, it’s not hard to see how this could easily be a college student’s best friend. It cools piping hot coffee (or tea) down to an ideal 140 degrees Fahrenheit in about two minutes and maintains the temperature for up to five hours. Whether it’s presented to college guys sitting through a 200-level course on history or college girls powering through advanced biochemistry, the caffeinated goodness inside will stay warm and comforting, even in the midst of surprise exams.

iced coffee is seen in a glass with a blue koffiestraw next to a laptop

Reduce waste while preserving your smile

Reusable straws are getting a lot of positive attention for their eco-friendly nature, but they’re really convenient and can help protect your college student’s smile, too. Oval-shaped, they fit easily into hot beverage to-go cups, ensuring an even flow of liquid to prevent burning the tongue—and staining their teeth—with a piping-hot cappuccino. The flexible, reusable koffie straws can even be cut to suit their favorite glass, mug, or cup.

A spoonful of peanut butter sits on a PBSpoon next to a croissant

Good to the last bite

Late-night power-snacks aren’t always the healthiest option, but peanut butter is surprisingly decent—particularly when compared to some other college student faves. Make sure your student is getting every last delicious bite with this silicone peanut butter spoon, specially made with a long handle to reach the bottom of the jar mess-free. This clever design works wonders on other dorm-favorite foods too: jelly, yogurt, and guacamole to name just a few.

For the Between-Class Blogger:

A black evri device charging station is seen charging a laptop, tablet and phone at the same time

Keep all of your devices fully charged

Documenting college and campus life, maintaining a busy blog, or keeping up with their social media following: it all takes a lot of energy, literal and figurative. This slim, portable device charging station handles the literal end with four full-speed standard USB charging ports and a built-in USB-C charging port for the newest smartphone styles. No more fighting with roommates over outlets: just plug in, power up, and catch up in moments.

A teal Gekkostick flexible phone holder sits perched on a rock poised to take a photo

Make sure they can capture every moment

Help your favorite college guy or girl shoot videos or video call back home with ease. This bendable, flexible phone holder with a Bluetooth camera shutter remote lets them take photos and selfies from distances and angles that would otherwise be impossible. And the remote helps ensure their new best friends aren’t left out of the picture. 

For the Tech-Obsessed Freshmen:

A man lays in bed reading his tablet comfortably with Tablift

Help them wind down after a long day

If you’re going to keep them on your Netflix account, you might as well make sure they’re getting good use of it. This universal tablet stand has a modern design which extends spider-like arms to either side of the user, letting them kick back and binge a season of shows on their tablet while lying comfortably in bed. Great for winding down after a busy week of classes, it allows them to customize just the right view angle for perfect watching posture.

A man sits working on a laptop in his lap, organized with an iSkelter mobile lap desk

Give them a way to do their work from anywhere on campus

A lapdesk is only as good as the material it’s made of—choosing the wrong design just means holding a hunk of hot plastic on the legs rather than the hot underside of a laptop. This lightweight, pierced bamboo design naturally absorbs and disburses heat, which is better for both the laptop and the college student. Built to ensure healthy airflow, consider it a useful investment in the durability of your college student’s most important research tool.

A woman is seen working on her laptop while using Levit8's foldable laptop stand

Improved productivity and better posture in one

Dorm desks and dorm beds aren’t exactly world-famous for their support and comfort, but standing desks are also a no-go in limited room space, despite how great they can be for your health and posture. This attractively-designed foldable laptop stand by Levit8 folds neatly into a book-like shape for easy portability. It unfolds into an origami-inspired column that turns almost any table into a standing desk, and any nearby students into envious onlookers.


College may be tough, but these intriguing tools and everyday upgrades will make that full course load feel a little lighter for your favorite college student. Gifts for college students make the late-night cram sessions more bearable, and also make socializing in their downtime that much more memorable. When it’s time to take the “big walk” across the stage in a few years, they’ll remember you—and your gift—with a smile.

Need gifts for college students beyond the diploma? Check out thoughtful gift ideas for the college grad!


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