Featured Image

Top Gifts for College-Bound Students

Looking for the perfect gift for your college-bound child? Here are some ideas to get you started!

Doing some off-to-college shopping for your college-bound kid over the Fourth of July holiday? Take a look at some of these perfect presents for your (almost) freshman!

  • A college-cool backpack. Help your student lug their textbooks from one end of campus to the other in style with a trendy backpack. L.L. Bean and The North Face have great options.
  • Grown-up notebooks. Welcome your student to the world of adulthood with a proper notebook, like a Moleskine. Taking notes never looked so good.
  • A digital media player. Students can avoid paying for cable and watch streaming video through a digital media player. Apple TV works with any Mac or Windows computer that’s running iTunes on an enhanced-definition or HD widescreen TV. Roku players provide access to more than 1,000 channels and connect easily to the user’s TV and high-speed Internet service.
  • A nifty alarm clock. For many students, getting out of their warm, comfy dorm bed in the morning is the hardest part of the day. Make it fun with a quirky alarm clock, such as the Clocky, which is designed with wheels and the ability to jump off the night stand and roll around the room looking for a place to hide before going off.
  • Portable speakers. Dorm rooms are small, meaning musically inclined students may not be able to set up their full-size speakers. Portable speakers, such as the teeny-tiny and waterproof Creative Muvo 2c, let them take their music with them wherever they go.
  • Headphones. Of course, while portable speakers are a great idea in theory, most college students who live on campus will have roommates. Roommates who may or may not share their taste in music. Help them avoid arguments with some noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds.
  • An e-reader or iPad. More and more textbooks are now available in an electronic format. Help your student lighten the load in the aforementioned backpack with an iPad or an e-reader, such as a Kindle Fire.
  • A five-year diary. Give your student the gift of memories with a diary that will help chronicle his or her time in college. This one from Barnes & Noble requires just a single line a day, and there’s also a sketch-a-day option for the budding artist.
  • Dorm-friendly cookbooks. Leaving home doesn’t mean students can’t enjoy a home-cooked meal. They may not have a full kitchen at their disposal, but cookbooks with recipes that are compatible with dorm life abound. The I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook and the $5 a Meal College Cookbook are just two examples.
  • City guidebooks and transportation maps. Students going away for college can bone up on their new surroundings with the help of city guides and public transportation maps, like those offered by Frommer’s. International guides are also a great gift idea for students planning on studying abroad. In particular, Rick Steves’ books are helpful for American travelers on a budget.
  • School memorabilia. If your student already knows where he or she will be attending college, T-shirts, sweatshirts, bumper stickers, and other memorabilia can make for great gifts. Visit the school’s website to see if their coop, bookstore, or gift shop accepts online orders.
  • A battery pack. Long days in class and long nights at the library are bound to test the limits of your student’s phone and laptop. Help them stay connected with a back-up battery pack. Amazon has hundreds of options at many price points.
  • A single-cup coffeemaker. Most college students have neither the time nor the need to brew a full pot of coffee. A single-cup coffeemaker like this inexpensive Bella model or a pricier but super handy Keurig will save them both time and space—and they won’t have to visit overpriced coffee shops quite so often.
  • A travel mug. They’re going to need something sturdy to carry that coffee with them to class. A trendy travel mug will do the trick. This one has a helpful built-in clock, or you could order a personalized one from Etsy.
  • A family album. As great as all these gift ideas are, everyone knows the best gifts are the ones that come from the heart. Consider putting together an album of family pictures that your student can take to college. You could even create a professional-quality photo book with the help of a website like Blurb or Shutterfly so you can order a second copy for yourself.

Let us know if we missed any great gifts for soon-to-be college students in the comments. Happy shopping from CollegeXpress!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

4th of July back-to-school shopping college shopping college-bound students gifts dorm shopping fourth of July freshmen gifts gifts for college students shopping

About CollegeXpress


Welcome to CollegeXpress, your one-stop college shop! We’re a free college planning website used by millions of college-bound students, parents, and counselors—anyone who needs help navigating the college search and application process, financial aid opportunities, and more. You’ll find comprehensive College Search and Scholarship Search tools, tons of articles and expert advice, unique college lists and rankings, and lots of other resources to help make your life easier. Teen Vogue even named us one of the 7 Best College Search Websites! But current college students and recent grads also love CollegeXpress for our Grad School Search tool and endless information on student life, internships, and beyond. We really have something for everyone, no matter where you are on your college journey. 😊


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Rana Slosberg

Rana Slosberg

Slosberg College Solutions LLC

My favorite part of CollegeXpress is the 800+ lists which have all kinds of hard-to-find information. These lists are helpful when I’m creating college lists, and I also use them to give students a feel for a particular college or university.

Jessica Rinker

Jessica Rinker

Student, Fairhaven High School; CollegeXpress Student Writer

My high school counselor introduced me to CollegeXpress freshman year. It has made such a difference in high school, and I plan to continue relying on it in college. CollegeXpress is my go-to because it addresses each aspect of being a student. There are the articles you’d expect regarding college applications and financial aid, but you will also find advice on things like de-stressing and maintaining relationships while balancing a heavy course load. CollegeXpress will also keep you updated on current scholarships through e-mails each Saturday. (They don’t harass you with any product promotion like so many other sites do.) CollegeXpress is a lot like an older sibling who has already conquered the challenges you are facing. Now, they are reaching out a helpful hand. I say take it.

Amari Toussaint

Amari Toussaint

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me narrow my school choices down from 10 schools to four and then two. It also gave me information on a school I had never heard about or thought about attending until now, which is the school I will be attending in the fall. I am thankful for CollegeXpress and its helpful tools.

Emilie Delgado

Emilie Delgado

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2013

CollegeXpress has tremendously helped me in my search for financial aid opportunities as I enter my college career. It is easy to navigate and quickly narrowed down scholarships that I could apply for. Being awarded the scholarship will greatly help me in my finances regarding books and tuition. Thank you for this opportunity. Without CollegeXpress, it would have been more difficult to apply. I would recommend this site to everyone!



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me find Allegheny College with the super-user-friendly search tool for both schools and scholarships. Using CollegeXpress, I was able to search for programs I was interested in studying and find colleges that offered those programs. Also, once you search for the college, CollegeXpress can get you connected!

College Matches