Choosing the perfect gift for a college student doesn’t have to be as hard as Calculus II.
Are you overwhelmed by too many gift possibilities? Use this two-step approach to narrow your options: 1) consider where the student lives during school, then 2) check out the short, curated list of gift ideas below. Each gift idea includes a link to experts’ top picks and reviews.
Does the student in your life live in a dorm? At a sorority house or shared apartment off-campus? At home with the folks? The answer will help you settle on a gift you might not have thought of but one the recipient will use frequently.
Gift ideas were selected independently by the author. No commissions will be earned from purchases made using the links.
Truly Effective Earplugs
Reusable earplugs block distractions when studying or sleeping, and protect healthy eardrums against loud noise — a must for concert-goers. We’re not talking about your old-school foam cylinder earplugs. Earplugs have evolved into highly engineered devices that surprisingly don’t break the bank. And because they’re reusable, they won’t break the Earth.
Perfect for students who… are poor sleepers; have raucous roommates; study in noisy coffee shops; play in bands, or date people in bands.
They’re perfect because… earplugs can promote focused studying and restful sleep. They’re much less expensive than most noise-canceling headphones — so inexpensive that losing them won’t be too big of a deal, but just expensive enough that they’ll be a gift that’s much-appreciated.
Trendy Shower Shoes
Athletes aren’t the only students susceptible to athlete’s foot. The fungi that cause athlete’s foot can hang out in any warm/damp/humid/sweaty environment–not just the locker room. Shower shoes (also called shower sandals or slides) protect wearers from germy, wet floors in shared bathrooms, limiting exposure to germs.
Fashion-conscious students desire some brands’ shower shoes as casual-wear staples. Think of them as designer flip-flops worn around the pool or dining hall.
Perfect for students who… have more roommates than bathrooms; live in the gym; are fashion influencers.
They’re perfect because… they’re practical while being stylish and sporty. There are many inexpensive options.
Link: “The Best Shower Shoes for Men & Women in 2022,” Travel + Leisure
A Water Pitcher for Overall Health & Wellness
Every college student owns a surplus of water bottles, which is ideal! Staying hydrated wherever they go is vital for their comfort and health. Have you thought about what goes into their bottles? A PUR Filtration Pitcher will provide great-tasting water to take to class, the gym, or a hike. Just remember to include genuine PUR pitcher filters with your gift. Only genuine PUR pitcher filters are certified to reduce lead and other contaminants in water.
Perfect for students who… take a water bottle everywhere; are concerned about what’s in the water they drink; don’t want to add more disposable plastic bottles to the environment.
It’s perfect because… it can provide cost-savings compared with constantly buying bottled water. PUR Filtration Pitchers come in sizes to suit any fridge and color accents to suit anyone’s style.
Link: PUR Pitchers
Safety Lights for Cyclists and Runners
“See and be seen” isn’t a mantra reserved for the cool kids. It should be on students' minds when bicycling or running. Modern lights are powerful, sophisticated devices, light-years beyond reflectors used in the past.
Perfect for students who… bike or run competitively or for fitness; commute to class or a part-time job by bike or on foot; are often outdoors early in the morning or late at night.
They’re perfect because… they’ll help keep your student safe.
Links: “The 14 Best Bike Lights for Every Kind of Ride,” Bicycling; “10 Best Running Lights for Safer Nighttime Runs,” Runner’s World
An Upgraded Webcam
Virtual lectures, meetings, and study groups. College has changed. What hasn’t changed is the need for professors and students to see each others’ faces. A high-quality camera will do the job better than the tiny one built into your student’s laptop. Ask anyone who’s been on the other end of a low-res video call with fuzzy audio.
Perfect for students who… collaborate with peers in other locations; attend lectures remotely; are finishing up their graduation requirements through distance learning.
It’s perfect because… of all of the above. Plus, parents will see their kids with superior video quality during weekly calls.
Link: “The Best Webcams 2022: Top Picks for Working and Streaming,” TechRadar
If you’re a parent, you know your college student needs more than just your streaming passwords and gas card. If your next gift contributes at all to their success in and out of the classroom, that would be perfect.