Gift Ideas College Students Actually Want

TIMEJune 24, 2015

1. Google Chromecast ($35)

With a dedicated wifi connection, which most college students have access to, they can use this gadget to stream programs directly from their tablets or smartphones to an HDTV.

In addition to being able to stream YouTube and Netflix, Google is also aiming to expand its programs from channels like HBO Go, Redbox, Hulu, and many more in the future.


2. Kinivo ZX100 Portable Speaker with Rechargeable Battery and Enhanced Bass Resonator ($15 on

These tiny speakers pack a lot of power and work with all devices that have the standard 3.5mm audio socket. Buy a set and your student can loop them together for additional volume. If you’re looking for such gadgets, this model is pretty reasonably priced.


3. Wallet filled with useful extras (wallet $20 and the rest is up to you)

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Wallet Image via Shutterstock

A wallet’s always a practical gift—and filling it with cash or gift cards will make it even better.

For college students, this could be one of the most practical gifts they get because of the flexibility to buy what they need for themselves, but it’s a little more imaginative than putting a check in a Hallmark card.

If you’re really running out of ideas, you can’t go wrong with this one.


4. Black and Decker coffee maker ($19).

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Coffee shops can get expensive and making a whole pot of coffee in the morning can be impractical. So a coffee maker that makes a single coffee to take on the go, can be a perfect student solution. You can actually take the mug with you on the go.


5. Plane ticket  ($100-$2,000)

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Ticket image via Shutterstock

If you play it right, you can get some pretty reasonable deals by booking well ahead. Many parents tend forget about this great idea. But be sure to pay the little extra for flexible dates. You can also throw them a luggage along with it.


6. Swiss Army Knife ($100)

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Sooner or later, most college students will wish they had one when they go camping or travel overseas, not to mention coming in handy for so many things in daily life during their college years.

This model’s got all the essentials including tools for fixing electronics: Swiss Army CyberTool 34


7. Formula X For Sephora nail polish gift set ($55)

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For the female college student on your list who has trouble making decisions, this 22-color nail polish set might be perfect. The bottles are small, and since trends are always changing college students rarely finish full-size bottles anyway.


8. Skateboard ($50 to $200)

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Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Many college kids find walking around campus tedious. If you think your student is a skater at heart, it’s a much more fun and time-saving way to commute. And it’s a lot more portable and practical than dealing with a bicycle. If you don’t know much about skateboards, make sure you consult to your seller (and don’t get them a plastic one). Here’s a useful skateboard site with a live chat to help you make the best decision.


9. Headphones ($150 – $250)

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You can get a pair of high quality headphones without spending in astronomical amount. The benefit of this gift is that headphones are a college student necessity, but they can also be a luxury item. And no student will ever complain they have too many pairs. They’re also great for travelling, especially ones with noise-cancellation that eliminate low frequency sounds common on trains and planes.


10. New Bedding  ($30 – $170)

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At the end of the day, basics like a set of high thread count cotton sheets and bed covers will always be warmly appreciated no matter how boring the gift may sound.


11. Dorm Room Organizers ($15 – $50 )

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Cork boards and white boards are great for dorm rooms and can help students organize their plans and set reminders throughout the day.


Gifts to Avoid

Gift Cards for Textbooks

Students on a budget should really check out their college second hand bookstores for texts at half the price of new ones. Many students don’t value having a new textbook that they’re only going to use for a few months, not to mention that nowadays many texts are available as ebooks.

Electronics on Spec

Don’t buy expensive electronics like laptops or iPads, unless you know for sure they don’t already have one and that nobody else is buying them one. Otherwise they might sell your expensive gift for cash. In that case, you might as well give them the money straight up and save them the hassle.


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James Chi