Unique Gift Ideas for College Students

Coming up with gift ideas for college students can be difficult. Supplies for the modern student is changing rapidly and it can be hard to determine what a student's college experience requires at any given time.

Over the past 20 years, college education has been infused with technology; students are required to have computer access, which the university library will likely offer, but the more technology a student has available to them, the easier the learning experience. Here is a list of gift ideas for the modern college student.


A laptop is a premium gift to give to a college student, and probably the most useful. Many classes allow laptop usage during lecture, and as such, many students use their laptops to take notes and/or follow along with study material.

Personal laptops make it easier for students to do their homework anywhere on campus. The laptop doesn't have to be to fancy; something basic will likely be able to handle everything a student will encounter.

Baseline laptops cost $350 and up. I wouldn't recommend buying used laptops as a gift unless you know what you're looking for. Technology changes quickly and computer hardware can quickly become outdated, and therefore, nearly worthless. Research laptops for students.

Microsoft Office Student Edition

Students Gifts - Microsoft Office

Take extra note at Microsoft Office if you are purchasing a laptop for your student gift receiver. MS Office is absolutely essential in today's classroom. Rarely does an instructor accept hand-written assignments or essays anymore - Microsoft Word is now the standard format that students must use.

The student edition of Microsoft Office comes equipped with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote, which is all a typical student will use out of the entire MS Office collection. To the regular consumer, MS Office Student Edition costs $200, but for someone who has a valid student email (one that ends in .edu) can pick up a copy for around half the price.

Gift Cards

Great gift ideas for college students are often hard to come up with, and while gift cards might not be as exciting to receive, giving the student the freedom to get exactly what they want or need is sure to put a smile on their face.

People who give gift cards often have no idea what the gift receiver likes, so to be safe, why not give a card to somewhere broad where the student can get whatever they need.

A gift card from Amazon.com is a great idea to give a student; they can pick up just about anything for deep discounts and have it delivered right to their address. A little bit goes a long way on Amazon.

Backpack/Laptop Bag

One item that is still a college necessity is the backpack. Almost every college student uses some kind of bag to haul around their books, notebooks, pencils, calculator, laptop and other materials. Before setting out and buying a "really cool" hiking-style backpack, think about organization too.

Dividers inside the bag and a few zipper pockets really make the difference in keeping things neat. They also help keep books in tip-top condition for resale after each class. Laptops carriers and backpacks are starting to be integrated; large bag that can carry everything at once are ideal for some students, yet are unattractive to others. Good gift ideas for students are sometimes items that cover simple, basic needs.

Dorm Room Stuff

If you are looking to gift a dorm-dweller, consider wrapping up some items that make living away from home easier. A bag full of deodorant, soap, breakfast cereal, and hangers are hardly fun to receive; instead, think of some unique, but useful gift ideas that will fit in his/her dorm room. Some things to consider include:

  • Bedding

  • Under-the-bed or behind-the-door storage

  • iPod docking station (speakers)

  • Posters/wall art

  • A small, personal safe

  • Television and/or DVD player (if one is not supplied)

  • Video game system (Wii, Xbox 360, Playstation 3)

Flash Drive / Thumb Drive

College Gifts - Flash Drive

In my opinion, these are absolutely necessary and should be required to attend class. Flash drives are conveniently portable memory sticks that can hold any type of file that a student should encounter. For you "old-school" shoppers, a flash drive works much like floppy disks, except has a much larger memory capacity and is exponentially faster.

Flash memory gets cheaper every year, and you don't "require" much of that memory in college. I own a 4GB flash drive that holds all the assignments I've ever done, and it still isn't half full. Definitely one of the cheaper gifts you can buy a student, with current prices ranging between $10 to $60.

Smart Phone

Modern phones aren't just good for texting and Internet access, smart phones (iPhones, Droids, etc) have applications (apps) that can be very useful for students. Apps can handle document creation, digital storage, event planning, flashcard creation, as well as text, audio, and video notes. While smart phones themselves often come with a big pricetag, the apps you need after purchase are either free or under $10.00.

Good Luck!

***Prices subject to change***

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