Best Gifts for College Students: 12 Gifts They’ll Actually Use

College can be a stressful experience. Finding a gift for a college student shouldn’t be. We compiled 10 of the best gifts for college students for birthdays, holidays or “just because.” These are also great gifts for high school graduation if the student is headed off to college right away. Whether your student is living in a dorm, has an apartment or is staying at home, these ideas cover all your bases between form, function and price.

1. Reusable Straws

reusable straw with cleaner

You don’t need to be an Environmental Sciences major to love this eco-friendly gift. #SaveTheTurtles with silicone straws that come with a squeegee for easy cleaning. These straws fold into a convenient carrying case, so your student can toss one in the bottom of their backpack without it breaking.

2. Happy Student Gift Card

Let your student decide what they need the most and give them the gift of choice. The Happy Student Gift Card is perfect for any gifting occasion. We recommend this gift card because your student can use it to find apartment and dorm décor, treat themselves to self-care essentials or get ready for class with the latest fashion trends. The Happy Student Gift Card can be used at Bed Bath & Beyond, World Market, Buffalo Wild Wings, Ulta, Foot Locker, American Eagle, Aerie and Express.

If your student prefers online shopping, the Happy You Card is a great option. It is redeemed online for eGift cards from any of the brands on the card. Those eGift cards can be used for online purchases and in-store shopping.

3. Collegiate Apparel

ohio buckeyes red hoodie

Your student will love showing their school spirit in some stylish college apparel. Aerie’s Tailgate collection has hoodies, t-shirts, joggers and more for 40 different colleges and universities. Or find merch repping the student’s school in Fanatics’ selection of 500+ collegiate teams.

Related Gift Guides
> Back to School Gift Ideas: Gifts Every Student Needs
> Gifts for Teens: 10 Gifts They’ll Think Are Cool (Even If You Don’t Understand Them)
> Graduation Gift Ideas: Useful & Unique Gifts Grads Want

4. Dry Erase Wall Sheets

dry erase peel and stick

Help your student keep their school, personal and social lives organized with these dry-erase wall sheets. They can keep track of their schedule, due dates, shopping lists and more. And you don’t have to worry about sticking them on the wall of a dorm room or apartment. The easy peel-and-stick application won’t leave a sticky residue when they’re removed.

5. Decorative Plants

faux desk plant and pot

Faux plants are an easy way to liven up a student’s living space without the hassle of maintenance. Turn a dorm room into an oasis with these faux tropical plants, or gift these cute desktop succulents that will add the relaxing flair of nature to the room.

6. Weighted Blanket

beautyrest weighted blanket

Weighted blankets come in a variety of weights from 5 pounds to 30 pounds and help reduce anxiety to improve the quality of sleep. Between the stress of classes, the endless caffeine and the long nights of studying, your student will wake up feeling refreshed no matter their sleep habits.

When choosing a weight, it is recommended to get a blanket that is approximately 10% of your body weight. This Beautyrest Luxury faux mink blanket comes in 3 color options and has a 12 pound and an 18 pound option.

7. Self-Care Items

mesh shower tote grey

It can be easy to neglect self-care with a busy school schedule. Give your student items so they can pamper themselves between assignment deadlines. If your student is into makeup, use our makeup and beauty guide to find gifts that will help them reach their full glam. For shower time, this mesh shower tote dries quickly and can be stocked with all of their favorite products. We also found this affordable light therapy lamp that helps battle stress, home-sickness and seasonal affective disorder.

8. Personal Safe

honeywell personal safe

Many students have roommates throughout their college career. While this can be great for their social life, they might need help keeping their important items secure. That’s why a personal safe is a unique but totally practical gift. This Honeywell security pouch holds valuables such as phones, passports, prescriptions and cash. The compact design makes it convenient to take with them while traveling or it can be tethered to a stationary object in their room.

9. Hydro Flask Bottle

hyrdo flask blue

Remind your student to stay hydrated with a stainless steel Hydro Flask. They can pour up to 32 oz. of a hot or cold beverage into the bottle, so they’ll be prepared for those long lectures or all-night study sessions. Plus, they’ll save money on drinks and reduce their waste!

10. Smart Notebook

rocketbook black

Some people prefer taking notes on real paper. For those paper people, we can’t think of anything more useful than this Rocketbook Smart Notebook. It feels like writing with traditional pen and paper, but you can easily scan notes using the Rocketbook app on a smartphone. Scanned notes are instantly organized into your student’s preferred cloud-storage service like Google Drive or OneNote. They can reuse the pages hundreds of times and the ink won’t smudge while they’re writing. When they’re done writing, they just wipe the page clean with a damp cloth. The app even transcribes notes for easy searching, so students won’t have to rifle through dozens of pages to find what they’re looking for.

11. Portable Charger

anker portable charger

There’s nothing worse than your phone dying while you’re on-the-go. If your student likes to study on the quad or in busy cafes, a portable charger is essential to keep their mobile devices powered when there are no outlets nearby. This highly-rated Anker portable charger holds enough power to provide an iPhone XS more than five full charges.

12. Smartphone Printer

fujifilm instax portable printer pink

College doesn’t have to be all work and no play! Smartphone printers are a fun way to share memories with friends or to decorate an apartment. The Fujifilm instax mini photo printer connects to a smartphone through Bluetooth and prints out pictures in about twelve seconds. The app lets students create collages and add filters for fun effects. Small enough to carry in their backpack, your student will have high-quality prints instantly at any social event.

College is an exciting chapter in any student’s life. Celebrate them with any one of these thoughtful gifts that they will be sure to use. Check out our back to school gift guide for even more ideas for the student in your life.

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Happy Gift Cards issued by MetaBank, Member FDIC. Card valid only in the US, no cash or ATM access. Use your Happy Gift Card to purchase goods and services at locations listed on card.

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