If you’re looking for the perfect gift for your college or university student, you’re in the right place: we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all the best gifts, from budget décor to top tech gadgets, to brighten up your student’s life and put a smile on their face!
So let’s get shopping!
We’ve done our research and discovered loads of great products, suitable for a range of budgets (we’ve rated them $ to $$$ to help you out!). Consider this your one-stop shop of recommendations, researched just for you.*
A quick note on the perfect gift:
Don’t forget to bear in mind what stage of their college journey your student is at, as that’s sure to affect what they need!
Are they about to head off for the first time? Check out our comprehensive college packing list to make sure they’ll start out well-prepared.
Once settled in, most college and uni students will have the basics covered. So unless they ask for a new shower caddy, it’s safe to assume that the best gift will be one that will make their college life a little easier or brighter: think luxuries they can’t justify themselves, and effective ways to ease any homesickness or stress!
Check out the categories below to head straight to a section that ticks your boxes:
- The best gifts to keep your college student safe
- Practical and useful gifts to make studying easier
- Top tech gifts to keep your student connected
- Food and drink: perfect gifts to keep them well fed!
- Affordable gifts to remind your college student you’re there for them
- Little luxuries: gift cards and subscriptions
- Time to get gifting!
- The Science Of Studying Smart
The best gifts to keep your college student safe
If you’re a parent you’re probably constantly worrying that your child is safe on campus (I know mine were!). So we’ve compiled some top gifts to let your kids know you’re thinking of them whilst giving you peace of mind:
1. Keep valuables secure with a personal safe ($)
Take comfort in knowing that their valuables and important documents are secure whilst they’re out on campus with a portable personal safe.
2. Protect their money with wallet clip ($)
Choose a carbon fibre, RFID-blocking wallet clip to protect your student’s cards and feel confident that they’re safe about town.
3. Personal safety for night-time campus wanderings ($)
Worried about your child being out on campus alone at night? Make sure they’re equipped with a personal safety kit, such as a flashlight-stun-gun combo.
4. Never lose valuables again with a key tracker ($)
It’s not just keys: send them a bluetooth tile tracker to add to their wallet and phone too, and with app-connectivity your student can find their essentials even when they’re in a rush!
Practical and useful gifts to make studying easier
Instead of wondering if your college student is keeping up with assignments, why not send them a useful little gift to help keep them organised?
5. Stylish yet functional backpack ($$)
Hauling textbooks and laptops around all day for class is not the most fun. And backpacks wear out fast.
6. Day planner to keep them organized ($)
With so many classes and extra-curriculars to attend, the best way to stay on track in college is to make the most of an academic-year planner. And there are plenty to choose from for every style and budget!
7. Noise cancelling / wireless headphones ($ – $S$)
8. Ditch the paper with a smart notebook ($)
Looking for an eco-friendly gift? A smart notebook lets your student take digital notes by hand, instantly backed up in the cloud. Upgraded note-taking, here they come!
9. Gift perfect lecture recap with a voice recorder ($$)
Does your student fall asleep in early morning lectures (haven’t we all)? Make sure they don’t miss out with a USB voice recorder, perfect for recapping lectures when they’re more awake!
10. Keep them cosy and efficient with a lap desk ($)
Perfect for working in bed for that comfortable touch (or for when their roommate is asleep), a lap desk will keep your student on task!
11. Books to improve their studying ($)
Want to send them a little encouragement for building better study habits and the courage to persevere with college? Why not send them a copy of James Clear’s Atomic Habits or Angela Duckworth’s Grit?
Top tech gifts to keep your student connected
Chances are your college or university student is pretty tech savvy, and there are plenty of useful – and fun! – gadgets to improve their college experience!
12. Portable power bank ($$)
Ideal for keeping connected whilst spending the day out and about on campus, a portable power bank is a must-have to avoid a dead phone battery!
13. Keep it cool with a laptop cooling pad ($)
Your student is probably going to be spending a lot of time on their laptop, so keep it working efficiently with a laptop cooling pad – a highly practical gift.
14. Entertainment and organization with an Echo Dot ($$)
Giving them the perfect compact system to stay organized, plus rock out to music? The Amazon Echo Dot makes a great multifunctional gift for college students.
15. Movie-night magic with a mini projector ($$)
Make the college student in your family the envy of their dorm with a mini projector. Dorm movie nights with friends, here they come! (Psst, this is perfect for pairing with the popcorn maker below.)
16. Help them stay backed up with plenty of digital storage ($-$$)
17. Make it brighter with a ring light ($)
Not just useful for those late night study sessions, having a quality ring light is perfect for looking professional in interviews and meetings (as well as filming entertaining TikToks with friends!).
18. TV streaming with ease ($$)
Set them up with a smart TV stick (like the Roku Ultra) and they’ll have all their favourite streaming channels in one place – perfect for unwinding with friends!
19. Make memories with a polaroid camera ($$) …
A mini polaroid camera: it’s a classic, creates instant memories, and makes for a stylish gift for your college student.
20. … or a mini smartphone printer ($$)
For a great alternative, why not give them a thermal mini smartphone printer, perfect for making memories with their college friends and decorating their dorm room.
Food and drink: perfect gifts to keep them well fed!
From recipe books to snazzy kitchen gadgets and coffee machines: the best way to ensure your college student is eating more than ramen is to make sure they have the tools! And we’ve rounded up some of the top-rated:
21. Student cookbooks to improve their diet ($)
22. Mess free, one-pot cooking ($$-$$S)
23. Keep the party popping with a popcorn popper ($)
The perfect movie-night companion to a portable projector is a BPA-free, silicone, microwave popcorn popper! All the comfort food, but still healthy.
24. Mini-fridge for ever-handy snacks and drinks ($$)
If its permitted in your student’s dorm or accommodation, a portable mini-fridge can be the perfect companion for long study sessions!
25. Kick start their mornings with a personal coffee maker! ($$)
It’s pretty much a given that college students love (and survive on coffee) so a mini coffee maker is a great and compact gift to get them up and ready for lectures in the morning!
There are also some great cold-brew coffee machines available if that’s their thing!
Affordable gifts to remind your college student you’re there for them
Can’t afford to break the bank with some of the more expensive tech and kitchen gadgets? No worries!
Some of the best gifts on this list fall in the affordable category: fun ideas to make their dorm more homey or stylish, and make them the life of the party!
26. Extra-long charging cord to keep them connected ($)
College dorms often don’t have many power outlets, so a 10-ft reinforced charging cord is often the perfect accessory for withstanding dorm-life and staying connected
27. Reusable hydration for when they’re out on campus ($)
There are lots of options for eco-friendly or personalised reusable water bottles, thermoses, and coffee mugs. Choose something that will make your student smile for the perfect pick-me-up gift!
28. Help them decorate with style and memories ($)
If permitted in their dorm, your college student is sure to love some photoclip string lights: the ideal combination of cosy and home, especially combined with photos of family memories.
Plus, you can combine this gift with a stack of printed photos (get free prints from Snapfish or Photobox). Or alternatively ($$), their own polaroid camera or mini smartphone printer (both above) so they can continue to add memories throughout college!
29. Keep anxiety and homesickness at bay with a weighted blanket ($)
College is a stressful time, and every student deserves a good night’s sleep! Help your student out with a weighted blanket, perfect for alleviating anxiety and ensuring they get some zzz’s!
30. Banish odours and invite calm ($)
Multi-purpose and sure to help them relax and focus on their studies, a stone diffuser is an ideal, stylish and affordable gift for your student!
Likewise, a Himalayan rock salt lamp is great for setting a calming mood to your student’s dorm room!
31. Liven up the party with some killer card games ($)
Every student loves a good (drinking) card game. So why not add to their collection with some classics such as Cards Against Humanity and Exploding Kittens, or something new and fresh like What Do You Meme?
Little luxuries: gift cards and subscriptions
The perfect gift for any cash-strapped college or university student is always going to be money and/or luxuries they can’t afford themselves.
So why not combine the two with a gift card or subscription service? They’re surprisingly thoughtful, and gift cards give your student room to choose luxuries that suit them.
32. Give a gift they can choose themselves! ($-$$$)
Some of the best gift cards will give your student access to their favourite restaurant, make school books affordable, justify premium services like Amazon Prime or Spotify, or help them upgrade their wardrobe, decor or bedlinen with quality, eco-conscious items.
33. Subscribe for goodies every month ($-$$)
Alternatively, why not set up a 3-6 month subscription that delivers a little luxury once a month? Some great ideas are:
- coffee from around the world (Atlas Coffee Club)
- comfort food and snacks (Goldbelly)
- wellness and self care (The Mental Wealth, Loti Wellness)
- hands on fun (The Crafter’s Box)
- books (Book of the Month)
- luxury stationery (Archer & Olive)
- print media (New York Times magazine)
- fragrance samplers (Scentbird)
- skincare samplers (Birchbox)
- jewellery (Rocksbox)
Time to get gifting!
Hopefully you’ve found the perfect gift for the college or uni student in your life on this list, or at least just the inspiration you needed!
And if the college student in your life is about to set off to college for a new year, make sure to check out our comprehensive college packing list to make sure they’re well prepared with all the essentials.
34. Here’s one last gift they may find themselves in need of …
It’s our specialty here at Exam Study Expert: we offer 1-on-1 coaching to help students all over the world find confidence and success in their studies, from school through to PhDs and professionals … so perhaps the perfect gift for your student is an hour or two with our expert memory psychologist William Wadsworth to get them studying smarter today!
Happy shopping, and good luck to all your college students.
*As an Amazon Associate, we may earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you. We make these recommendations based on personal experience and because we think they are genuinely helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions received.