43 college dorm essentials you’ll actually use – according to a recent graduate

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  • Going back to college is always an exciting time, whether it’s your first year or you’re a senior.
  • If you’re heading off to college for the first time ever, you’re probably wondering what to pack.
  • Below I’ve listed some dorm room essentials most of us recent graduates agree are essential.

If you’re heading off to college for the first time this fall, congrats! It’s such an exciting time – picking out your classes, meeting your roommate, making new friends. Although exciting, moving away from home and into a new space with a new person can be nerve-wracking. A good packing list to get you prepared for move-in day won’t necessarily calm all of your first-day jitters, but it hopefully will make you feel a little more ready.

As someone who recently graduated from college, the chaos of dorm-room shopping is fresh in my mind. I also remember the items I used every day and the items I was convinced I needed, but sadly never made it out of their packaging. That’s why this list exists – to give you some guidance that will hopefully make your college shopping process a little less hectic.

From the more obvious basics, like a comforter, to the more obscure, like an Amazon prime membership, this list has all the essentials to get you ready for the big day.

Shop our picks for 43 great dorm room essentials below

An Amazon Prime Membership for convenient shopping and free shipping

amazonprime, $6.49 a month

Amazon Prime Student Membership, $6.49/month (6-month free trial for new members)

Amazon Prime is the ultimate in convenience, especially if you don’t have a car on campus or if you go to school in a more removed, rural area. I found myself on Amazon Prime often, constantly ordering last-minute school supplies, my favorite snacks from home, and even toiletries when I was too lazy to drive to the store. The convenient service takes the annoyance of shopping away so you can focus on more important things, like studying.

If you are a new member you can get a free trial of Prime for six months, otherwise you can just get a discounted student membership.

A wallet that sticks to the back of your phone

amazon adhesive wallet $5.99 5 pack

Adhesive Phone Card Holder, $3.99 at Target

My student ID was one of my most valuable possessions in college. That little plastic card gave me access to my meal plan, my dorm, laundry, and more. I didn’t usually carry a full wallet with me, but I always had my phone on me, so I used these little phone wallets to hold my important cards instead. I could fit three cards, or two cards and some cash, in one of these.

A bottle to keep your drinks hot and your bag dry

contigo $11.75

Contigo Autoseal Travel Mug, $20.49 at Target

When you need to bring a hot beverage to class, there is nothing worse than opening your backpack to find your travel mug has leaked onto your schoolwork. This travel mug is great for keeping your drinks hot, but it also has an autoseal that actually keeps your drinks from leaking and spilling. So, you can throw this in your backpack and still hand in your essay sans coffee stains.

A pair of shower shoes that you can also wear to class

haivaianas $18

Havaianas Top Flip Flops, $18 at Zappos

Shower shoes are a must if you’re using communal showers. These Havaianas are simple, comfortable, and you won’t be horribly embarrassed if you accidentally wear them out of the shower and into class.

A shower caddy that carries everything

shower caddy

Day/Night Shower Caddy, $7.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond

This shower caddy is big enough to hold all of your shower supplies, but has a removable mini carrier so you don’t need to lug everything with you when you shower, you can just take what you need. 

A fan that is a lifesaver if you don’t have air conditioning

vornado $34.99

Vornado Small Air Circulator Fan, $30 at Bed Bath & Beyond

If you don’t have air conditioning in your dorm, you need a fan. This one is small, but mighty. You will actually feel the difference in the air when you turn this fan on, but it is still small enough to fit on your desk, making it a great choice for a college dorm room.

A command hook that can do some heavy lifting

large command hook, $4.55

Command Large Plastic Hook, $4.00 at Target

These little hooks are major space savers. They come with adhesive strips for easy application to the wall and come off the wall without damaging the surface. It says these hooks can hold up to 5 lbs, but I was still surprised that this little plastic hooks could actually bear the weight of my heavy winter parka. These are great to stick to the wall for additional storage for jackets, bags, and other items that might not fit in your closet.

A tapestry to liven up dull dorm room walls

society6 tapestry, $43.99

Society6 Tapestries, starting at $31.49

Dorm room walls can be dull, but you can easily cover them and add some intrigue to your room with a tapestry. Society6 has tapestries in a wide range of prints including photographs, paintings, and typography. You can find lots of unique designs to make your room feel a little more like your own.

A colorful speaker that is college-proof

UE boom, starting at $99 to $120.98

Ultimate Ears Boom 2, $80 at Best Buy

The UE Boom 2 speaker is made for college students. It wasn’t really, but this shockproof, waterproof speaker can survive all of the antics of a college party. In a dorm room, these speakers are pretty loud on their own, but if you are moving to a bigger space and want even louder sound, you can connect your UE Boom with up to 150 other UE speakers for the ultimate party sound system. The fun colors are also a plus.

A lamp that is also an outlet and desk organizer

equipyourspace $14.99

Organizer/USB Outlet Desk Lamp, $15.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond

You don’t get much space in dorm rooms, so any multi-purpose items are great for capitalizing on what you actually do have. This lamp is functional enough on its own, but the added USB outlet and organizational space make it that much more practical. You can hold post-its, paperclips, and other small school supplies in the organization compartments and the USB outlet is great if your room has limited wall outlets.

A drying rack that can be folded up for easy space-saving

polder $19.90

Polder Compact Accordian Drying Rack, $19.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond

When folded down, this drying rack is flat and can be stored easily under your bed. When opened up, it provides 14 feet of drying space without taking up much space in your room. If you have any clothing that is too delicate for the dryer, one of these racks will come in handy. The best part is, you won’t even notice it once you put it away.

A Moleskine journal that you can use for handy notes

moleskin $14.75

Moleskine Hard Cover Notebook, $25.99 at Quill

Moleskine journals are great for a multitude of uses. They are smaller than most typical subject notebooks, but still can be used for class. I like to use mine as a planner and for jotting down random notes and thoughts I have throughout the day. The hard cover notebooks are flexible, but still durable enough to survive a messy backpack. 

Decorative pillows to liven up your space

dormify starting at $15

Decorative pillows, starting at $7 at Dormify

To make your dorm feel homey, add some decorative pillows to your bed. Decorative pillows are a fun way to show off your style and make your space feel like its yours. Plus, these will also make your bed extra cozy. 

A set of plastic drawers for easy under-bed storage

Iris $29.99

Iris Loft Underbed Stacking Drawer, $29.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond

Dorm rooms don’t typically offer a lot of space, so you have to get creative to make room for all of your belongings. These plastic stacking drawers are great for under-the-bed storage. These drawers are stackable to really maximize space and the front of the drawer is clear so you can easily see what is inside. These are perfect for storing clothing, towels, sheets, and more. 

A power strip for all of your devices

belkin $11.99

Belkin Power Strip Surge Protector, $21.49 at Staples

With a lot of tech, you will need a lot of outlets to charge everything. Many dorm rooms are not set up so outlets are in the most accessible locations, plus you have to share what is available with your roommate. A power strip is an easy, cheap solution to make sure all of your devices can be charged simultaneously. 

A hamper that also holds your laundry supplies

pop up hamper $7.99

Pop-Up Mesh Laundry Hamper, 7.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond

Depending on your laundry situation, you might be lugging your hamper up flights of stairs or to another building on campus. This hamper will make that process a little easier, with side pockets for your laundry supplies, so you have everything laundry related in one place. Plus, when you’re not using it, this hamper can be folded down flat and stored easily elsewhere in your room. 

A kettle that makes heating water safer, and easier

black&decker $24.99

Black + Decker Electric Kettle, $25.00 at Bed Bath & Beyond

I didn’t use an electric kettle until senior year, but now it’s a staple in my kitchen. It heats up water rapidly and automatically turns the kettle off once the water is boiled, so you don’t have to worry about any fire hazards. As a college student who was always rushing out of my apartment in the mornings, I always had peace of mind knowing that I didn’t leave the stove on to make my tea or oatmeal, because I didn’t need to use the stove at all. If you’re in a dorm and don’t have a kitchen, this is just as useful of an appliance for quickly heating water for tea, oatmeal, or a personal favorite instant meal, easy mac.

A towel that won’t fall

towelwrap $19.95

Women’s TowelNRobe Bath Wrap, $17.99 at Walmart

Mens Cotton Terry Body Wrap, $40.00 at Kohl’s

A towel wrap is a great substitute for a regular towel. These are just as comfortable and drying as your average towel, but the added Velcro strap ensures that your towel will stay put on your trek from your room to the shower.

A microwave that will make your favorite dishes

hamiltonbeach $55

Hamilton Beach Stainless Steel Microwave Oven, $69.98 at Walmart

Popcorn, easy mac, ramen — there’s so much you can make with a microwave. If you want to go a little more gourmet, you can make your own microwave-friendly dishes like mug cakes and frittatas. With the range of what you can make, and the ease of use, a microwave is a worthwhile and necessary investment for your college years.

Nutrition bars to keep you energized on long days

gomacro $16.83

GoMacro Nutrition Bars, $3.59 at Target

On those days when it feels like you will never get out of class, you’re going to need some sustenance. Nutrition bars are a quick fix that you can throw in your backpack for long days when you don’t have time to sit down for a meal. I like these ones because they’re made of simple, natural ingredients which will keep you fueled without a dreaded sugar crash later on. 

A little wastebasket to keep your room clean

trashbin $5.99

Mesh Metal Wastebasket, $6.99 each at Bed Bath & Beyond

It’s easy to let trash pile up in your dorm room, but having a trash can will at least help contain that mess. A lot of dorms have giant trash and recycling bins scattered throughout, but don’t have anything in the actual rooms. These wastebaskets are small enough that they can be hidden in the corners of your room, but they’re big enough to actually hold a good amount of garbage to make sure your surfaces are visible, and hopefully, clean.

A comforter that feels like your favorite T-shirt

dormify comforter $129

Tie Dye Jersey Comforter and Sham Set, starting at $99 (Twin XL) at Dormify

A soft comforter is a must. This one, made from cotton jersey, has the same cozy, worn-in feel as your favorite T-shirt. Plus, you can throw the whole thing in the wash for easy cleaning.

Febreze to freshen up your space

febreze $2.99

Febreze Air Freshener, $2.99 at Target

Your dorm room is your home base in college and you likely will use it for many other activities besides sleeping, which can give your room a “scent,” if we’re being generous. Many colleges don’t allow candles in dorms, but you can still hide the smell of burnt microwave pizza and dirty laundry with a can of Febreze. This linen & sky scent is light, but strong enough to eliminate the stink of college activities, so you can actually enjoy hanging out in your dorm room, odor-free.

A multipurpose mug that looks cute too

anthropologie mug

Lucy Eldridge Mug, $12 at Nordstrom

Even if you don’t have a kitchen in your dorm room, bring a mug with you to school. You can use it as a vessel for tea, microwave meals, and if you really have no desire to make any sort of food, this will make an adorable pencil holder on your desk. I like this one for the fun animal prints and sayings.

A set of sheets that is cozy and cool at the same time

brooklinen $99

Brooklinen Classic Core Sheet Set, starting at $99 for a Twin XL

These cozy percale sheets only get better with time. With each wash, the breathable fabric softens— a good incentive to do your laundry. Each set comes with a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and two pillowcases.

A bottle that will keep your water cold all day long

hydroflask $29.95

Hydro Flask 18 oz. Standard Mouth Water Bottle, $29.95

This insulated water bottle can keep your beverages cold for 24 hours, so you can always stay hydrated with ice cold water.  I love the range of bright colors and the option to purchase different caps, like a sports cap great for taking to the gym.

A set of Rubbermaid food storage containers to stash your snacks

rubbermaid $5.89

Rubbermaid Premier Food Storage Container, $20.99 for a 12-piece at Bed Bath & Beyond

Whether you are living in a dorm or off-campus, these Rubbermaid containers are a necessity. You can use these to bring packed lunches to class, to keep your favorite snacks safe from bugs, or stock up on food in the dining hall to stretch that college budget. These containers are microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe, so you can really use them for anything. 

A cheap, easy way to bring your memories with you to college

snapfish $0.20

Snapfish prints, starting at $0.09

Once you’re away, you may realize how much you miss your friends and family back home. Scrolling through pictures on Instagram and Facebook doesn’t always cut it, but printed pictures are a great way to keep the people you love around and make a great room decoration as well. Snapfish makes it easy to print your favorite pictures in a variety of sizes and finishes, and they start at only 9¢ per print.

A Keurig for a quick caffeine fix

keurig $92.02

Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker, $129.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond

Early morning classes and late night study sessions make caffeine a college student’s best friend. When I was a freshman I could get unlimited free coffee at the campus dining halls, which was great. Once I graduated from an unlimited meal-plan though, I realized how much money I was wasting buying coffee that was honestly not even good. The Keurig was the answer; a speedy, single-serve coffee maker that is extremely easy to use and clean. The upfront cost may seem like a lot for a coffeemaker, but if you consider how much money you will save making your own brews in the morning, it definitely is a smart purchase.

A folder that can fit all of your subjects

five star $10.29

Five Star Expanding File Folder, $6.99 at Target

You most definitely will need folders or binders to keep track of all of your class handouts. While you can opt for individual folders for each subject, I found that one compact folder was the most convenient. With one folder, I was always prepared for class as I had all of my papers with me. Plus, this one is vertical so you can easily take papers in and out when you need them.

A sweatshirt that can take you from bed to class

eveerlane

The Classic French Terry Crew, $45 at Everlane

Long nights in the library, early morning classes when you wish you were still sleeping, these are the times that call for a comfortable sweatshirt and these are the times that make up a good chunk of the college experience. It may seem obvious, but pack a comfortable sweatshirt that you can lounge in, sleep in, and wear to class.

Clorox wipes for easy cleaning

Using Clorox to clean table outside

Clorox Wipes, $23.49 for a 3-pack at Amazon

Nobody is cleaning your room for you once you get to college, so you should have some basic cleaning supplies on hand. Clorox wipes are great for wiping away crumbs, dust, and any other grime that accumulates in your room. I have even used these to clean muddy, white sneakers, but I’m not sure that is the best method.

A charging cable that is extra-long and extra-convenient

amazon cable $9.99

Apple 6-Foot Long Charging Cable, $29.99 at Best Buy

This phone charger is extra-long, so you can use your phone while it charges in an outlet up to six feet away. This is super useful if there is no outlet near your bed, but also it’s just as good as a regular phone charger.

A little organizer for your desk

desk organizer

Bamboo Rotating Organizer, $25.38 at Walmart

You should definitely have some storage to keep your supplies organized, so you can actually use your desk. This desk organizer won’t take up too much space and is a tidy way to store the school supplies that you use often, like notepads, scissors, pens and pencils. The natural color will fit in with any decor and it rotates too, for easy, fast access to your school supplies from all angles.

Starry string lights for wall decorations

stringlights

Starry String Lights, $15.20 at West Elm

The artificial lighting that you will find in most dorm rooms is pretty depressing. String lights are a cheap, easy way to brighten up a dim space. With 33 feet of lighting, there are ample ways to set up these lights in your dorm room. When turned on, these also make a cute, and useful, decoration.

A comfy pair of slippers for your dorm and beyond

muk lul

Women’s Muk Luk Clog Slippers, $20.99 at Target

When you realize how dirty dorm floors get, you’ll be happy you have a pair of comfortable slippers to wear around your hall. This pair has an indoor/outdoor sole, which is great in the case that you do want to wear them outside.

Door hooks for added storage space

hook

Hook-Over Over the Door Hook, $1.99 at The Container Store

Another great space-saver, these hooks fit right over your door and are flat enough so your door can actually close. Use these to hold your towels, jackets, and bags. 

A Kindle for reading in your free time

kindle

Kindle Paperwhite, $94.99 at Target

If you have the free time to read for pleasure, a kindle is the way to go. With all the reading you have to do for class, you’ll have enough books taking up space on your desk and in your backpack. With a kindle you can get all of the titles you want on one compact device and at a fraction of the cost. This one has a Paperwhite surface, so you can read outside with no glare, and a built in light, so you can read before bed even if your roommate is sleeping.

Canvas pouches for all sorts of knick-knacks

canvaspouch

Canvas Pouches, starting at $10.74 at Etsy

I use this little canvas pouches for everything. They can be used as pencil cases, makeup bags, or to organize any other knick-knacks you have lying around. With a multitude of designs and even personalized options, you could get a few to hold a different items. 

A mattress topper that’ll transform a stiff mattress

linenspa

Linenspa 2-inch Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress, starting at $58.99 (twin) at Wayfair

Your university probably isn’t welcoming all first-years to school with Leesa and Casper mattresses — and if they are, I want to know where you go to school. Luckily, you can transform those stiff-as-a-board mattresses for $40, or even less. A mattress topper is truly a blessing, turning any old bed into the comfortable sleep haven you deserve. I like the feel of plush memory foam toppers like this one, but there’s a plethora of materials to choose from so you can be sure you’ll find one that’s perfect for your sleep preferences and budget. 

A set of velvet hangers that keep your closet

velvet hangers

Real Simple Flocked Suit Hangers, $24.99 (50-pack) at Bed Bath & Beyond

I’ll never forget walking into my dorm room for the first room to find an armoire filled with about hangers of random shapes and sizes. You can deal with the crappy ones that may (or may not) come in your closet already, or you can just bring your own. These hangers are easy on your clothes, sturdy enough to hold up to 10 pounds, and have a slim design that maximizes closet space. Plus, using a set of uniform hangers will help keep your closet consistently neater

A reading light that won’t annoy your roommate when you’re up late studying or reading

led reading light

LED Reading Light Clip, $9.99 at Best Buy

Living with a roommate means you have to be mindful of someone else’s schedule, not just your own. You might like reading late into the night, but your roomie might want lights off at 10 p.m. to prepare for her early-morning lecture. Rest assured, you don’t have to give up your night-owl habits to respect your roommate’s preference. Pick up a small reading light instead — it takes up barely any space, is bright enough to see comfortably in the dark, and clips onto surfaces for easy use. 

An over-the-door organizer that can be used to hold just about anything

hanging over-the-door organizer

36-Pocket Over the Door Organizer, $20 at Dormify

In a small dorm, you have to get creative about storage. The back of your door is the perfect place to hang an organizer like this one. Use it to store snacks, shoes, cleaning supplies, or random knick-knacks. It provides tons of storage (36 pockets worth) in a space that would probably go unused otherwise. Plus, it’s easy to clean — all you have to do is wipe it down.

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58 gifts for college students they’ll actually want to use, according to a recent grad

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allbirds
Allbirds sneakers make a great gift for college students and recent graduates.

  • The best gift ideas for college students are useful, but fun – like comfortable sneakers, new headphones, or a good scented candle.
  • As a recent college graduate myself, I can confidently say that this list is a really good place to start your shopping.
  • It covers tech gifts, beauty products, and much more for college-aged men and women.
  • Need more gift ideas for the younger people in your life? Check out our gift guides for toddlers, teens, and all ages in between.
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Check out all 58 gifts for college students:

This gift guide includes a sponsored product that has been suggested by Gravity Blankets. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*

A media streamer that transforms a normal TV into a smart one, so they can watch shows and movies from Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and other streaming services

roku ultra $90

Roku Ultra 4K/HDR/HD Streaming Player, available at Amazon, $94.94

Most college students aren’t forking over a monthly payment to cable. This streaming player is, overall, the best one you can buy, and it transforms an otherwise ordinary TV into one that can stream shows and movies from Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Prime Video, and others all in one spot.  

Their favorite comfort foods

goldbelly

Goldbelly food gifts, available from $17.95

Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy their most specific and nostalgic cravings no matter where they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior’s, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. Browse the iconic gifts section for inspiration.

The world’s most comfortable shoes

allbirds wool runner

Wool Runners, Men, available at Allbirds, $95

Wool Runners, Women, available at Allbirds, $95

Startup Allbirds makes wildly popular shoes out of soft, sustainable materials. Their Runners made of super-soft merino wool have been nicknamed “the world’s most comfortable shoes.” You can find a full review here

Great coffee from all over the world to help them stay energized

Atlas Coffee Club subscription

Atlas Coffee 3-month Subscription, $53

If they drink coffee, they’ll likely drink a fair amount of it during college. And it’s really nice to have a good cup. 

Atlas Coffee is a monthly subscription that’s sort of like a worldwide coffee tour — bringing the best single-origin coffee (with a postcard from its origin country) to your door. They’ll also get brewing tips and flavor notes. 

A fun board game they can play with friends

settlers of catan

Settlers of Catan, available at Walmart, $43.88

The Settlers of Catan is perfect for nights at home with roommates. It’s a fun multiplayer board game that relies upon strategy (and sometimes luck) to amass resources, trade them, and build civilizations — and it can last for hours. 

A weighted blanket

Gifts for college students Gravity Blankets

Gravity Blanket, $195, available at Gravity Blankets

Similar to the comfort created by swaddling babies, weighted blankets utilize deep-touch therapy to help users get deeper, more restful sleep, while also helping to reduce anxiety and stress — something that’s especially needed during finals week. In addition to its classic weighted blanket, we’d recommend Gravity’s Cooling Weighted Blanket for hot sleepers.

*Sponsored by Gravity Blankets

A book that helps them build good habits and break bad ones

atomic habits by james clear

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, available at Amazon, $11.98

Many college students are trying to map out what they want out of life and how to build the habits that get them where they want to go. In the popular book “Atomic Habits,” James Clear, an expert on habit formation, teaches practical strategies for building lasting habits (and ditching detrimental ones). 

A ten-minute breakfast that will save them money and time

gifts for college students

Dash Rapid Egg Cooker, available at Target, $14.99

The Dash Rapid Egg Cooker looks gimmicky but is actually deceptively useful. It’s compact and makes virtually every kind of egg (hard-boiled, poached, scrambled, or an omelet) perfectly, and in under 10 minutes. 

A gift card for new (and fashion-forward) glasses

Warby Parker

Gift Card, available at Warby Parker, from $50

As someone who transitioned from contacts to glasses because of increased screen time in college, I can attest that having a good pair of blue-light reflective glasses is crucial. Warby Parker is practically legendary when it comes to eyewear because of its relative affordability, size flexibility, and wide range of styles. 

The most comfortable socks college students can own

Bombas

Women’s Ankle Sock 4-Pack, available at Bombas, $45.60

Men’s Performance Running Calf Sock 3-Pack, available at Bombas, $48

Bombas makes the best socks on the market. They benefit from upgrades like a supportive honeycomb stitch, blister tabs built into ankle-height styles, and a Y-stitched heel and “invisitoe” that minimizes annoying bumps. Even if it seems like socks aren’t an exciting gift, comfort is pretty much always a hit in college. 

It was also founded to address that socks are the number one most requested item in homeless shelters. Every time customers buy a pair, they give a thoughtfully designed pair to someone in need. The company has donated more than 41 million pairs of socks to homeless shelters since 2013.

Colorful reusable straws that can go through the dishwasher

Gifts for college students reusable straws

Reusable Silicone Drinking Straws, available at Target, $8.99

Trying to adopt more eco-friendly habits is one of the great characteristics of younger generations. These reusable straws are colorful, bendable, and convenient. They’re also dishwasher-safe. 

A personalized passport cover and luggage tag set

Passport Cover Luggage Tag Set Yellow P01 309_nzoom

Passport Cover and Luggage Tag Set, available at Leatherology, $65 

Beautiful passport sets are a great gift for plenty of reasons. They’re useful, likely something they won’t have already bought themselves, and are often associated with the joy and excitement of travel in the future. Sometimes, you want to own one thing for a long time — and luggage tags and the memories that accompany them are one of those items.

Trendy and convenient Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods worlds most popular wireless headphones_woman wearing airpods_03202019

Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case, available at Best Buy, $199.99

If you’re after the title of their favorite relative of the year, here’s a good place to start. AirPods are both easy to use and functional as well as trendy. The newer generation of AirPods can be purchased on Amazon for $200, but we also liked the earlier generation (which is slightly cheaper).

Popular wireless over-ear headphones for quality noise-canceling during studying and working out

Screen Shot 2019 10 23 at 11.31.31 AM

Beats Solo Pro Wireless Noise Cancelling On-Ear Headphones, available at Amazon, $299.95

If there’s one thing every college student needs, it’s good wireless headphones. This brand-new Beats pair has rich sound, active noise canceling, and up to 22 hours of listening time. And if they let the battery run out, a 10-minute charge converts to three hours of playback. You can also find steep discounts on other Beats headphones now that a new model has launched. 

If they like to study in noisier spaces, you can’t go wrong with Bose’s pricey but unbeatable QuietComfort II headphones either. And if they’re a runner and need something lightweight and in-ear, you should opt for Jaybird Vista.

A portable projector that’s the size of a soda can

gifts-college-students

Anker Nebula Capsule Smart Mini Projector, available at Amazon, $237.99

Anker’s Nebula Capsule is a powerful and versatile mini projector, and its portability makes it a great option for college students who want a cozy movie-viewing experience in the comfort of their own room. It’s 1 pound and the size of a soda can, but it has surprisingly crisp image quality and 360-degree sound. It’s also quiet and has a continuous playtime of four hours. Find a full review here.

An Amazon Echo Dot for hands-free calls, alarms, music, weather updates, recipes, and more

Echo Dot

Echo Dot (3rd Generation), available at Best Buy, $39.99

The Amazon Echo Dot is the most popular Amazon device for a reason — it’s compact and has all the capabilities of Alexa (weather updates, recipes, music, news), which is the main reason most people buy an Echo device. A newer version of the Echo Dot was recently released, but the 3rd generation is a bit more affordable for comparable quality.

An inexpensive way to get the iced coffee they love at home

gifts for college students

Takeya 2-Quart Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker, available at Bed Bath & Beyond, $24.99

The Takeya Cold Brew Maker is an inexpensive, easy way to make cold brew from home — something that can save them hundreds of dollars per year. Find a full review here.

A smartphone-sized travel photo printer

Gifts for college students Polaroid printer

Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Bluetooth Photo Printer, available at Amazon, $99.95

Mini portable Bluetooth printers make turning iPhone photos into tangible memories quick and easy — which is especially convenient for decorating their room. All they’ll have to do is download the app (which also has internal PhotoShop elements and features like themed stickers and collages) and connect via Bluetooth. 

The most popular Fitbit

Fitbit Charge 3, $128

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Activity Tracker, available at Macy’s, from $119.95

Fitbits track the wearer’s health and fitness to offer insights into their sleep and physical activity. They can set personal goals and get real-time updates during workouts. This one is water-resistant up to 50 meters, and its battery life can last up to seven days. 

College merchandise for school spirit

Gifts for college students AE Tailgate

Shop American Eagle’s Tailgate Apparel

Particularly if they’re going to a school with a big sports team, you can be sure they’ll both need and appreciate all the fan gear. 

A great game for a night in with friends

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Cards Against Humanity, available at Amazon, $25

Grab a fun card game they’ll inevitably end up pulling out to play with friends on the weekend nights and snow days. Check out What Do You Meme, too.

A professional, versatile, and compact backpack

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ICON Backpack, available at Incase, $199.95

A good-qualitybackpack is the most versatile bag for a college student. This model has adjustable padded shoulder straps and a sternum strap; a pocket for everything (including a side-access iPad pocket); and the exterior is professional, sleek, and slim while also being public transportation-friendly. 

A Brooklinen gift card for really nice sheets

Brooklinen

Gift Card, available at Brooklinen, from $50

Few things sound so nice as comfortable, beautiful sheets that you don’t need to buy for yourself. Brooklinen is one of our favorite startups to shop at, and we ranked their sateen cotton sheets (from $139) the best luxury sheets you can buy.

A funny but useful book full of expert and student advice on everything from finances to relationships and dorm life

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The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College, available at Barnes & Noble, $15.99

For everything from sharing a bathroom with 40 strangers to social network do’s and don’ts, this funny but useful New York Times bestseller runs the gamut. 

A monthly subscription of personalized new makeup, haircare, and skincare samples delivered to their door

birchbox $30, 3 months

Birchbox Three Month Subscription, available at Birchbox, $45

College students like to look and feel good, but tight budgets aren’t conducive to trying a lot of new, (and often expensive) grooming products. Birchbox sends samples of new and beloved products once a month, so they can test out new finds and discover products they may want to buy a full size of in the future. It’s also just fun to get a monthly gift that’s all about them. 

A laundry hamper with adjustable straps

Gifts for college students laundry duffle

Dalykate Backpack Laundry Bag, available at Amazon, $14.99

If they have to travel downstairs or across the street to do their laundry, they’re not going to want to haul a hamper. This bag comes with comfy adjustable straps to make laundry less of a (literal) drag.

A splash-proof portable Bluetooth speaker for college events that call for music

JBL Flip 4

JBL FLIP5 Bluetooth Speaker, available at B&H Photo, $119.95

Beach days, tailgates, outdoor parties of any kind (once it’s safe enough for them to return)— grab this under-$100 Bluetooth speaker for the many occasions when loud music and a spill-friendly speaker are going to come in handy. 

A really nice blazer they can wear to an interview or internship

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The Oversized Blazer, available at Everlane, from $170

Bonobos Jetsetter Slim Fit Stretch Wool Blazer, available at Bonobos and Nordstrom, from $225

Most college students probably don’t have a wealth of professional clothing to pull from for high-pressure situations like interviews or a big internship. Help them make a good impression, and see your money go to good use, with a blazer they can use repeatedly and for years to come. We’ve also created a list of our personal favorite workwear stores — plus the best styles to buy from each one. 

An Echo Dot with a built-in clock

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Echo Dot 4th Gen with Clock, available on Amazon, $59.99

The newest Echo Dot is more convenient than ever. The all-new design features a larger speaker for better audio, a digital clock to display the time and timer countdowns, and all of Alexa’s other skills. 

*This gift is unavailable to ship until December 30, but it’s still available to purchase.

A savvy suitcase for traveling on holiday breaks

Away luggage suitcase

Carry-On, available at Away, $225

Away’s hyper-popular suitcases deserve their hype. Their hard shell is lightweight but durable, their 360-degree spinner wheels make for seamless traveling, and the external (and ejectable and TSA-compliant) battery pack included can charge a smartphone five times over so they never have to sit behind a trash can at the airport for access to an outlet again. It’s also guaranteed for life by Away. Find our full review here.

We also recommend Calpak

A book about capitalizing on the huge choices to make in your 20s

Defining Decade

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now, available at Amazon and Target, $11.89

The decisions you make in your 20s can greatly impact the rest of your life. The best defense is a good offense and your grad should know now, before any life-altering events crop up, how to get the most out of their “defining decade.”

One of the all-time best facial cleansers for a clean and effective routine

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Luna 2 Facial Cleansing Device, Men, available at Amazon, $169

Luna 2 Facial Cleansing Device, Women, available at FOREO, $169

FOREO’s cult-favorite Luna 2 cleansing device gently and effectively cleans with thin, antimicrobial silicone touch points, and it removes 98.5% of dirt and makeup residue without irritating the skin. Plus, it’s 100% waterproof and the battery life lasts for a few months per charge. Find a full review from a female reporter and a male reporter here.

An Amazon Prime membership

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Gift an Amazon Prime membership, $119

An Amazon Prime membership is one of those things that immediately makes life easier and ultimately better. If you decide to gift one, the recipient will enjoy free two-day shipping; access to the Prime Now app, which provides free two-hour delivery on tens of thousands of items; Prime Video, Amazon’s streaming video service; Prime Music; the Kindle Lending Library; Prime Reading; Prime Audible Channels; unlimited photo storage, and more.

If you want to see how Amazon Prime ($119 for the year) actually gives you a lot more than free shipping, you can read about the benefits of the service here.

A candle to remind college students of their favorite place or hometown

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Homesick Scented Candle, available at Amazon and Uncommon Goods, from $30.24

If they’re away from family or friends, a reminder of home is a wonderful thing to have around. 

An iPad for Netflix-binging in their room, as well as for quick trips that don’t warrant a laptop

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Apple iPad 128 GB, Latest Model, with Wi-Fi, $329.00

Budget-friendly: Fire HD 10 Tablet, available at Amazon, $149.99

They won’t want to lug their laptop everywhere, and they may either already have a TV in their room or not have the space for one. A tablet is small enough to be travel-friendly but large enough for convenient Netflix binging or note-taking. If you want more iPad options, find them here.

The best electric toothbrush

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Oral-B White Pro 1000, available at Best Buy, $69.99

We rated this the best electronic toothbrush you can buy

Childlike cereal for adults

Magic Spoon cereal

Four Flavors, available at Magic Spoon, $39

Magic Spoon is a new “childlike cereal for adults” that’s high in protein and low in sugar — and all four flavors are delicious. Here’s one way to show college kids it’s completely possible to transition to adulthood without losing all the joy of being a kid. You can read more in a personal review here

Framed memories

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Gift Card or Frame a Memory, available at Framebridge, from $25

Help them honor some of their best memories — whether it’s from friends now studying across the country, family, or best-loved locales. Framebridge is relatively affordable, but decor is one of the luxuries plenty of college students shirk to save elsewhere — even though it can make their home a much more inviting, happy place.

A monogrammed leather shave bag so students can keep all their things in one place

Leatherology, $85

Leatherology Small Shave Bag, available at Leatherology, from $90 (available for monogram for $10)

The dreaded truth of college is that you’ll most likely need to schlep your shower belongings to a communal area if you live in the dorms. No one wants to rely on a plastic shower caddy to do that. Grab them a leather shave bag that they’ll use for years to come — they probably wouldn’t justify the expense on their own, and they’ll be grateful to have it. 

If you’re looking for a chic aesthetic, Dagne Dover also makes a great neoprene toiletry bag named the Hunter (from $35) that’s built to accommodate makeup. If they have a lot of toiletries, you’ll probably want to get the large size for $55.

A battery pack that charges an iPhone twice as fast as the original iPhone charger

Gifts for coworkers Eleject

Elecjet PowerPie, available at Amazon, $49.99

I said before that college students primarily need a good pair of wireless headphones. They also need a portable external charger. This gift is extremely convenient, and will also give you peace of mind to know the lessened odds of them getting stuck somewhere unfamiliar with a dead phone.

A nice watch they can wear to internships

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Gunmetal Sandstone, Men, available at MVMT, $135

Lexington, Women, available at MVMT, $125

MVMT makes beautiful watches for men and women at great prices, and they feel more contemporary to wear than most on the market. It’s a versatile, sentimental gift you can feel good about giving because you know they’ll feel good — and perhaps more put-together — wearing it. 

A cult-favorite tumbler to keep their drinks just the right temperature for hours spent studying

Hydro Flask

Hydro Flask 40 oz.Water Bottle, available at Hydro Flask, from $37.46

This HydroFlask will keep cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours with the lid on. 

The most comfortable lounge pants we’ve ever tried for lazy weekend mornings

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The Lounge Pant, Men, available at MeUndies, $68

The Lounge Pant, Women, available at MeUndies, $68

MeUndies is a popular LA startup that makes some of the most comfortable underwear we’ve ever tried. Their lounge pants, however, are the real hidden gem — perfect for lounging around on weekend mornings, and they’re sleek enough to avoid feeling too unkempt.

A key-, wallet-, and iPhone-finder

Tile Mate with Replaceable Battery

Tile Mate with Replaceable Battery, 4-Pack, available at Amazon, $68.87

You can’t go wrong with a tracker for their keys, wallet, or phone. The Tile Mate is compact, thoughtful, and useful for everyone — especially an oft-frazzled college student. 

Tools they will undoubtedly need and be grateful to own, but likely won’t buy themselves

HomeDepot

Stalwart 130-Piece Tool Set, available at The Home Depot, $25.97

They’re going to need tools at some point, and they’re probably going to be underwhelmed by the prospect of spending money on such an unexciting purchase. You could also grab them a First Aid Kit.

The best pillow you can buy

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Premium Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow, available at Coop Home Goods and Amazon, from $59.99

Make sure they’re optimizing their sleep with the best pillow you can buy. Thanks to the shredded memory foam, they’ll get the support and comfortable “sinking in” sensation of a traditional memory foam pillow, but none of the excessive heat or firmness that can be a problem with solid foam. Read more in our Buying Guide here.

A lightweight, business-casual laptop bag

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Ryan Laptop Bag, available at Dagne Dover, from $135

Weston Laptop Bag, available at Dagne Dover, from $135

They can take this versatile laptop bag everywhere without batting an eyelash. Which, considering how much college students juggle, is a big convenience. Find a full review of the laptop bags here

An undated planner that uses efficiency hacks to break down a 10-year plan into daily stepping stones

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BestSelf Co. Undated Daily Habit Planner, available at Amazon, from $25.04

The Best Self Co. Journal breaks down daunting long-term plans into bite-size steps that make forming good habits easy, efficient, and stress-free. College invites you to plan for the rest of your life — a question that can feel ambiguous and daunting. This should help. Plus, it has no dates so you can give it for any occasion — not just the New Year.

A custom poster of their favorite place

Grafomap, $49

Gift a customized Grafomap poster, from $49

Commemorate their college town, hometown, or favorite place in the world with this customizable graphic map so they can keep it with them wherever life takes them.

A hyper-useful extra-long, reinforced phone charger

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Native Union 10-Foot Extra-Long Charging Cable with Leather Strap, available at Amazon, $34.99

If they’re going to be tethered to devices, you may as well give them a long leash. This long charging cable means no matter where one is, they’ll have power — and they won’t have to sit at the foot of their bed to reach it. 

An instant coffee maker for busy mornings

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Keurig K50/K-Classic Coffee Maker, available at Best Buy, $99.99

Keurig K55/K-Classic Coffee Maker, available at Amazon, $79

If they drink coffee, they’re going to appreciate having easy, fast access to some for the many rushed mornings ahead. A Keurig is intuitive and ubiquitous. If you’d rather steer them away from single-use plastic K-Cups, grab these reusable and compatible cups as an accompanying gift.

A comfy Patagonia pullover they’ll rely on a lot

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Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Pullover, Men, available at Patagonia, $119

Women’s Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece, available at Patagonia, $119

It’s a good bet that many of their peers will also have this Snap-T pullover from Patagonia. It and the Better Sweater are long-held favorites, and both are comfortable classics that they’ll no doubt come to rely upon. 

A Patagonia sweater is also a particularly good gift for students who are invested in sustainability. The company has been turning plastic bottles into polyester for its clothing since 1993, and continues to do so today.

A gym bag that can transition to a professional setting

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Herschel Supply Co. Novel Duffel Bag, available at Nordstrom, $100

Just like bringing a beat-up JanSport everywhere, lugging an old nylon gym bag isn’t ideal for anyone looking for versatile use. Herschel Supply Co. makes reliable, long-lasting bags, and this one has a separate compartment for gym or dress shoes. 

A NutriBullet blender for fast, easy smoothies

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NutriBullet Pro 13-Piece Set, available at Bed Bath & Beyond, $79.99

A NutriBullet is convenient, doesn’t require a ton of space, and makes fruit smoothies in under 30 seconds. This is particularly great for the health-conscious, or anyone who can’t finish fruit or veggies fast enough; if it gets a little too ripe to eat, throw it in a smoothie to avoid waste.

A microwave-safe ramen cooker for the most stressful or time-crunched nights

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Rapid Ramen Cooker, available at Amazon, $10.98

There will be plenty of late nights filled with cheap and tasty ramen. If they’re going to eat it anyway, at least let them make it quickly and perfectly every time.

A super soft throw blanket they’ll find themselves cocooned time and time again

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BEDSURE Sherpa Fleece Blanket, available at Amazon, from $21.99

Grab their favorite candy, this sherpa-lined fleece blanket with over 4,400 five-star reviews on Amazon, and a Hulu gift card to make their nights in actually fun.

Gift cards – perhaps the best gift you can give a cash-strapped college student

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What a stressed, broke college student needs most is money and probably a hug. If you’re looking for a way to gift maximum convenience, gift cards are a surprisingly thoughtful way to do that — either for their favorite restaurant, transportation, school books, or music to keep them occupied during long study hours. Check out more gift card gifts here

Everything: Visa Gift CardAmazon Gift Card / Gift Amazon Prime Membership

Coffee: Starbucks Gift Card

School books: Amazon Gift Card 

Entertainment: Netflix Gift Card / Hulu Gift Card / Sling Gift Card / StubHub gift card

Transportation: Uber Gift Card

Decoration: Framebridge Gift Card

Furniture: Amazon Gift CardWayfair Gift Card

Music: Spotify Gift Card

Sheets: Brooklinen Gift Card

Groceries and food: Whole Foods Gift Card / Chipotle Gift Card

Clothes: Nordstrom Gift Card / Everlane Gift Card

Tech: Best Buy Gift Card

Travel: Delta Gift Card

A gift card to ClassPass so they can go to tons of boutique fitness classes without the expense

classpass cyber monday deal

Gift Card, available at ClassPass, choose your amount

Boutique fitness classes are expensive. ClassPass makes them less so. If they like to be active, are looking for a newfound favorite class, or like yoga as much as boxing classes, this is a great gift they’ll actually use — and applies to virtual classes until in-person ones are safe again.

Read the original article on Business Insider