Best 58 gifts for college students in 2023

Finding a gift for the college student in your life can be tough if they already have everything they need for their dorm or apartment. Plus, it’s hard to know what’s considered “cool” for a young adult these days.

As a college student, all I ever wanted was cash to help pay for my degree and gift cards to help pay for food. Odds are, the college student on your list is the same, and you might need some help coming up with ideas for a gift they can open and enjoy. We’ve rounded up a list of ideas across interests like beauty and wellness, cooking, tech and more to streamline your shopping process. 

Best gifts for college students

To help you find the best gifts for the college student on your list this year, we rounded up expert-recommended picks and consulted with Select staff for their holiday suggestion. Additionally, we also included some highly rated items we think you (and your gift recipient) will love.

Best fitness gifts for college students

Adidas Ultraboost

From walking around campus to working out at the university gym, these shoes let them do it all in comfort and style. With a breathable and lightweight feel, these shoes remain one of my all-time favorite pairs. They’re available in both men’s and women’s sizing and come in 26 colors.

Nobulls Knit Runner

With these lightweight, sock-like shoes, your college student can move comfortably thanks to Nobulls foot-forming uppers. They wrap around your foot for a breathable, supportive and flexible fit. These moisture-wicking sneakers are also temperature regulating, cooling your feet in the heat and insulating them in the cold, according to the brand. The sneakers come in men’s and women’s sizing and in more than 15 colors. 

Lululemon Reversible Mat 5mm

This reversible yoga mat is thick enough to give your student the support they need as they practice yoga, meditate, stretch and workout. The Select Wellness Award winner’s blend of materials also creates the right amount of grip that allows you to remain balanced as you move, according to Select updates editor Mili Godio. The reversible mat comes in two colors, but Lululemon also offers lightweight, rubber and textured rubber mat options. 

The Sculpt Society X Stakt Mat

If your student loves working out from the comfort of their home, consider gifting them this foldable yoga mat. The 2-in-1 gift also gives your student month-long access to The Sculpt Society, where they can take over 600 online classes. “The Stakt mat is so compact and perfect for dorm rooms, taking to the gym and even a college apartment,” says Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin.

Recess x Leanne Ford Set

If your student wants to partake in the fun of pickleball with their friends, this set comes with two paddles made of strong and durable fiberglass, a thick honeycomb interior, and a sweat-resistant grip made of condensed foam. It also comes with three white pickleballs and two limited edition embroidered canvas cases to keep the paddles safe The set comes in 30 color and pattern variations, and you can also purchase the paddles, balls and accessories separately.

Theragun Mini

If your giftee is a college athlete or loves hitting the gym, they might enjoy a massage gun. The compact and portable Select Wellness Award winner can help them massage their muscles after a workout. It offers three speed settings and provides up to 150 minutes of use time on a single charge, according to the brand.

Stanley The Quencher H2.0

This stainless steel reusable water bottle is great to take on the go and can help keep their drink cold for up to 11 hours and hot for up to seven hours, according to the brand. The tumbler has a three-position lid to prevent spills and a drinking spout for your student to use with or without the reusable straw. It comes in five sizes and 21 colors to match their personal style. If you want to add a personalized touch, you can customize it for an additional $55 or $57 fee. 

Alo Moves

Alo Moves is a virtual fitness platform that offers a wide range of classes. It’s a great option for the college student who loves exercise but hates the campus gym. This Select Wellness award winner offers one-off workout classes and a series of workouts, including barre, HIIT, yoga and pilates.

Best tech gifts for college students

Apple AirPods Max

Chances are, your college student has a pair of quality over ear headphones on their wishlist. These noise-canceling headphones are a Select staff favorite because they seamlessly block out noise, which is perfect if they need to study or focus. It also comes with a spatial audio feature to bring theater-like sound while they watch movies or play online games, according to the brand. They provide up to 20 hours of battery life and come in five colors, including pink, green and space gray.

JBL Flip 6

Whether your student is lounging on the campus lawn or getting ready for a night with friends, playing music through a bluetooth speaker is an excellent way for them to set the tone. This JBL speaker is lightweight — weighing just over one pound — and dust- and water-resistant. They can also adjust audio settings using the companion app, according to the brand. The speaker offers 12 hours of listening time, and they can connect it to multiple Flip 6 speakers to create a stereo system.

Apple Watch Series 9

This Select Giftable Tech Awards winner is one of the best Apple watches yet, according to Select reporter Harry Rabinowitz. Similar to earlier models, it is easy to use, syncs with Apple apps, tracks health and fitness data and has new features like Double Tap, which lets you control the watch without touching the screen. The watch is available in two sizes, nine variations and is compatible with multiple watch bands.

Amazon Fire Stick 4K

If your college student giftee doesn’t have a smart TV, this Fire Stick may help them avoid the hassle of looking for an HDMI cord to stream their favorite shows on a big screen. They can plug the device into a TV in their dorm or common space and stream content across platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, YouTube and more. You can also use the Fire Stick to watch live TV with a subscription. The device comes with an Alexa Voice Remote, which lets you launch content, control volume and more using your voice.

Anker 533 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Stand

Remembering to charge all your devices ahead of time is difficult, especially if a dorm or apartment doesn’t have enough convenient outlets. Gift your college student a charging stand that simultaneously charges their phone, Apple Watch and AirPods. It also comes with a USB-C cable and 20W USB-C wall charger. If your student is often on the go, the charging stand is also available in a foldable travel version.

Apple iPad (10th Gen)

This tablet is perfect for your student to carry from class to class and use for recreational purposes. It’s a lightweight alternative to your standard laptop while still allowing them to access their favorite apps and sites. This model has a large high-resolution screen, two built-in speakers and a dual camera they can use for FaceTime, Zooms and class meetings. You can also pair it with an Apple Pencil. “I used the stylus to take notes in class, annotate e-book pages and documents and do sketches for classes that required it,” says Malin.

Best school and practical gifts for college students

Papier Joy Undated Daily Planner

Since the school year is already in full swing, choosing an undated planner is the best way to help them track their to-dos without letting pages go to waste. This Papier daily planner has designated spaces for journaling, goals, weekly overviews, habit tracking and, of course, daily planning. The hardcover planner is available in 10 colors, and you can personalize it with your student’s name and more.

MoMA Sliding Perpetual Calendar

Although your student is technically an “adult,” there’s always room to bring out their playful side, and this calendar can do the trick. The interactive MoMA exclusive calendar helps keep track of days and months with sliding circles that move along the pathway. Your student can have it standing or mount it to the wall of their dorm or apartment.  

Hay Color Basket 

Help your college student stay organized with these colorful baskets that can store their stationary or miscellaneous items. These multifunctional crates are small enough to fit on shelves, tables and inside drawers. You can even purchase multiple and stack them on top of one another, according to the brand. If you need more room the boxes come in three sizes, including small, medium and large and come in 19 colors. 

Baggu Puffy Laptop Sleeve

Since most of their academic work is online, it’s important to protect your student’s laptop with a case. This Select staff favorite has padding on the inside to keep your device and any other important documents safe. The machine-washable case is available in two sizes, including 13-14 inches and a 16-inch sleeve, and it comes in multiple patterns and colors. 

Litepro Laptop Stand

Combat any posture or neck issues by purchasing your student a laptop stand.  I love using this aluminum alloy stand because it alleviates any strain on my body by elevating my device by 6 inches, so I’m not sitting at my desk hunched over. It is also sturdy and durable, so I’m not worrying about my laptop moving or falling as I work. The stand is adjustable for all-size laptops, and you can easily assemble and disassemble it if needed.  

VS-80 Spin Rechargeable Speaker and Alarm Clock

If your college student loves music, consider gifting them this Bluetooth speaker, which also doubles as an alarm clock. It has a battery life of eight hours and can connect to your phone or laptop via Bluetooth, according to the brand. And just like you would a record player, swing the vinyl player’s arm to start and stop the music. If they want to use the alarm clock feature, all your student has to do is adjust the clock settings using its companion app, according to the brand.

Baggu Reusable Bags

In college, having a reusable bag to run errands and even grocery shop became a staple in my dorm and apartment. This bag is made of nylon and is big enough to carry items up to 50 pounds, according to the brand. When you don’t need to use it, it folds up into a small pouch, which is perfect for keeping it in their backpack, bag, car and more. It’s available in three sizes, including baby, standard and big.

Uber Gift Card

Getting around from place to place in a college town can get expensive. Help your college student save on rides while letting them get to and from home safely with this Uber gift card. They can also use this gift card for Uber’s food delivery platform Uber Eats to get their favorite meals from various restaurants delivered right to their door. You can choose from six preset denominations, or you can add however much you would like.

Starbucks Gift Card

With early morning classes and late-night study sessions, some caffeine will do the trick to get your college student going. Give them a boost with this Starbucks gift card that allows them to redeem it at their local store, where they can purchase their favorite drinks, snacks and meals. The gift card comes in $25, $50 and $100 options. 

Spotify Premium Gift Card

Spotify is a digital music, podcast and video platform that gives you access to millions of songs and content. Gift the college student in your life three months of Spotify Premium, which allows for an ad-free listening experience. 

Amazon Gift Card 

Best home and kitchen gifts for college students 

Nutribullet Ultra Blender

Keurig K-Mini

This highly rated single-serve coffee maker is less than 5 inches wide, making it a good option for small living spaces like dorm rooms. The water reservoir holds 12 ounces, and when you remove the drip tray, you can fit a travel mug up to 7 inches tall, according to the brand. The K-Mini is compatible with Keurig K-cup Pods and My K-Cup Universal Reusable Coffee filters, and the coffee maker automatically shuts off 90 seconds after your last brew.

Anyday College Dorm Set

Malin says this microwave-safe four-piece glassware set allowed her to make eggs, fish, steamed vegetables and more when she was in college, providing her with easy alternatives to her dining hall. These glass containers and silicone lids are ideal for safe microwave cooking and are completely dishwasher-, freezer- and oven-safe, according to the brand. The set includes two small dishes, a medium deep dish and a medium shallow dish.

Urban Outfitters Victoria Bar Cart 

Bar carts are staple gifts because they double as decor and room-saving furniture. If your college student is 21 and over or simply wants to display their best drinkware glasses, they can do so using this cart from Urban Outfitters. The industrial style cart, which is available in five colors including gold, has two mirrored shelves that give your student space to store bar essentials, coffee table books, games, recipe books and more, according to the brand.

Home Bar By Andy Clarke

If your college student is 21, help them discover their favorite drink and master the art of mixology with this cocktail recipe book. With over 60 recipes, your of-age student can learn how to properly make a drink, including the details that matter like glassware to garnishes.

Best cozy gifts for college students

Capri Blue Volcano Capiz Jar Candle 

Whether it’s creating a cozy feel or helping clear their mind —  candles are an unspoken must for college students with apartments, no matter who they are. This Capri Blue candle has a fresh but slightly fruity scent with notes of mountain greens, lemons, limes and more. Depending on the size of the vessel —which come in colors like gold selenite, mercury and matte black — these candles have burn times ranging from 25 to 250 hours.

Marycele Candle Warmer Lamp

If your college student’s dorm or apartment doesn’t allow for open flames, consider gifting a candle warmer that uses a bulb to warm the candle so your student can smell their favorite fragrance without the risk of a  fire hazard. This warmer comes with everything needed, including a lampshade, lightbulb and base. Plus, it has features like a built-in timer and adjustable brightness. It comes in two colors and four additional styles to best match the decor of your student’s room.

Bearaby Medium Hugget Weighted Pillow

The Hugget weighted pillow can provide therapeutic sensory and stress relief, according to Bearaby, which makes some of our favorite weighted blankets. The Select Wellness Award winner is made from a plant-based, all-natural rubber foam and is encased in organic cotton, according to the brand. The medium knot pillow is approximately 8 inches tall, and the pillow is also available in a small size and a large size.

Brooklinen Organic Ribbed Robe

Robes are a college essential as you walk from your room to the bathroom, get ready or try to stay cozy throughout the day. Brooklinen makes some of our favorite bedding but this robe is a personal favorite because it’s plush, easy to wash and keeps me warm and dry. It has a relaxed fit, adjustable waist, wide sleeves and two pockets. It comes in two colors and three sizes, but if your student prefers a non-ribbed material, consider purchasing the Super-Plush Robe or the Waffle Robe. 

Room Essentials Sherpa Bed Rest Pillow

Rest, work and lounge comfortably with this Sherpa pillow. Unlike your standard pillow, this plush alternative is built to support your student’s posture by giving them body and arm support. They can also take this throughout their dorm hall or apartment building as the pillow comes with a handle so they can stay comfortable no matter where they are, whether it’s working in bed or watching TV on the couch. 

Hatch Restore 2 

If your college student struggles to wake up, consider getting this sunrise alarm clock. Rather than waking up to an abrupt sound, this clock can gradually wake them up by mimicking the light of a sunrise, according to the brand. It’s an easier way to wake up since it eases you into it and makes it a pleasurable and non-dreadful experience, according to Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin. It also has music, rest and meditation exercises, sleep stories and sunset lights to wind down after a long day of classes. 

Kitsch Satin Pillowcase 

This Select Bed & Bath Award winner helps your student stay cool as they sleep while helping to protect their skin and hair by preventing breakage, taming frizz and reducing irritation. The zippered satin pillowcase comes in two sizes and 22 colors and prints to match your student’s bedding.

Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

With caffeine constantly flowing to keep your student going, this smart mug will keep their tea or coffee warm as they multitask their day away. All they have to do is set their temperature preference through the companion app. Their mug can stay warm with 80 minutes of battery life or you can set it on the charging coaster to replenish the battery power. 

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton 

If your student’s preferred method of being relaxed and cozy is picking up a new book, consider gifting them this memoir. The book goes through the trials and tribulations of becoming an adult and covers topics from friendships to dating and even finding a job after college. 

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Your student should indulge in one of social media’s favorite books about self-care and improvement. It can help your student discover goals and strategies that they can put into practice to build good habits and break bad ones as they navigate adulthood in college and post-college.

Best travel gifts for college students

The North Face Recon Backpack

A supportive backpack to keep their laptop and school supplies in one place is needed. This option from The North Face is certified by the American Chiropractic Association because of the brand’s shoulder straps and a rounded back panel, according to the brand. It also has two exterior pockets, an interior laptop compartment and a large main compartment for books and binders. The smaller front compartments can also hold tablets, sunglasses, phones and more, according to the brand.

Beis Weekender Bag

Whether they’re visiting friends at other colleges or coming home for breaks and holidays, this weekender bag can fit everything your student needs while away from school. I love using this bag because it has designated compartments for all of my belongings, so I don’t have to fish for my items inside one big compartment. It has a zip-around bottom for shoes, a laptop sleeve, key leash, two slip pockets, one large interior pocket and  a trolley sleeve, making it easy to carry around when I have other luggage with me. It comes in a mini version and nine colors, including black, beige and maple. 

Away The Carry On

Carrying a bag is not for everyone, so the convenience of having rolling luggage might be a good option for your college student. With this carry-on suitcase, you’re making packing and traveling that much easier for your loved one. It’s lightweight, has interior organization and compression and is expandable, according to the brand. The exterior has a durable polycarbonate hard shell,  360-degree spinner wheels and a TSA-approved lock. The carry-on is also available in additional sizes and materials, including standard, large and aluminum.

Small Travel Jewelry Travel 

Have your student ditch the headache of tangled accessories and gift them a travel jewelry case that helps keep their items organized and tangle-free. Inside the square zippered case is cushioned storage for rings, compartments for earrings and necklaces and a built-in mirror. You can even personalize the vegan leather (which comes in 29 colors and patterns) and have their initials foil debossed or printed.

Calpak Medium Clear Cosmetic Case

To help keep your student organized at home and on the go, consider purchasing a toiletry bag for their belongings. It has a water-resistant exterior, dual-lay flat handles, an interior mesh zipper and two large interior spaces to pack their must-have items, according to the brand. You can get it in three sizes — small, medium and large — and it comes in seven colors, including stone, dragonfruit and black.

Leatherology Small Double Zip Toiletry Bag

This leather dopp kit can keep your student’s grooming products in one place without taking up too much space in their bag or on the counter. It has a water-resistant lining, a main compartment with mesh pockets, two zippered compartments and a front compartment that has elastic bands to make sure everything stays secure while traveling, according to the brand. It’s available in seven colors and comes in a large size as well.

Best skin care and hair care gifts for college students

Rhode Skin The Peptide Lip Tints

Scrolling on social media, your college student has most likely seen everyone using the tinted version of the bestselling Rhode Skin Peptide Lip Treatment. This set of four lip balms has ingredients like peptides to plump and reduce fine lines, and shea butter to moisturize their lips, according to the brand. The balms provide sheer, buildable coverage and come in espresso (rich brown), toast (rose taupe), raspberry jelly (crushed berry) and ribbon (sheer pink).

Laneige Heavenly Hydration Set

Laneige — the brand behind our favorite lip masks — created this holiday set with some of our favorite and expert-recommended products. The trio of minis includes the Cream Skin Refillable Toner & Moisturizer with Ceramides and Peptides to protect the skin barrier and soothe any inflammation, Water Bank Blue Hyaluronic Cream Moisturizer to moisturize and hydrate the skin and the Lip Sleeping Mask in Berry to add moisturize and smooth lips, according to the brand. 

Summer Fridays The Skincare Set

Up your student’s skin care routine with this Summer Fridays set that comes with a vitamin C serum, moisturizer (which doubles as a face mask), eye cream and lip balm. This hydrating and skin-protecting quartet is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and oily skin.  It is also a great way for your gift recipient to explore new products and add to their evolving routine.  

Skin Gym IceCoolie Ice Roller

Give the gift of self care with this ice roller, which gives your student a few minutes to decompress as they awaken and depuff their skin. When your student kicks off their morning skin care routine, they can grab the lightweight facial tool from the freezer and roll it on their face and neck for a refreshed feeling and look, according to the brand. 

Merry Little Minis Holidae Kit 

If your student loves to style their hair, make it a bit easier (and less damaging) with this kit from Dae, which includes social media favorites so your gift recipient can try an array of products from the brand. The set has six travel-friendly minis, including shampoo, conditioner, wave spray, shine treatment, heat protectant and styling cream.

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

This expert-recommended hair dryer prevents excessive heat damage, eliminates frizz and provides shine, according to the brand. It’s also suitable for all hair types because it comes with five styling attachments, including a diffuser, styling concentrator, flyaway attachment, gentle air attachment and a wide-tooth comb. Along with choosing which attachment they want to use, they can continue customizing their blow-drying routine by choosing which speed and heat settings they want. 

Phlur Discovery Set 

With eight scents, your college student can find their new go-to perfume or layer them for their own concoction as they dip into the world of fragrances. Some fragrances include their bestselling Missing Person perfume, which has a floral musk scent, but others have spicy, bright, warm, cozy and floral notes, making it suitable for everyone, according to the brand. There is also a fragrance discovery kit that comes with two additional scents, Solar Power and Tangerine Boy. 

Best clothing and accessory gifts for college students 

Alo Accolade Hoodie

If there is a staple to any college uniform, it’s a hoodie. The Alo Accolade Hoodie, which is made out of diagonal French terry, is designed to have an oversized look, according to the brand. This comfortable piece of outerwear is available for men and women and comes in eight colors, including black, white and espresso. Complete your college student’s lounge look by gifting them matching sweatpants. 

Abercrombie NFL by Abercrombie Graphic Tee

If your college student is a fan of sports, consider getting them merchandise so they can support their favorite team. These graphic tees are made from 100% cotton fabric and offer a relaxed fit, according to Abercrombie. The short-sleeve shirts come in 45 styles representing different teams and past league events, six sizes and two t-shirt lengths. 

Veja Campo Sneakers

As important as it is to have good athletic sneakers, having a staple lifestyle shoe is a must for college students on days they need to present in class or zhuzh up their outfit. These durable shoes are made of ChromeFree leather and rubber outsoles, which are easy to spot treat using a damp cloth, according to the brand. The Veja Campo sneakers are available in both men’s and women’s sizes, and they come in 24 colors to match their personal style. 

Kyle Cavan Campus Necklace

Get in the school spirit with jewelry that’s specific to their university. With more than 120 universities available to shop, your student can wear necklaces, earrings or bracelets that represent their school and feature school colors, campus landmarks, coordinates and more. The accessories come in three materials, including sterling silver, Cavan gold and 14K gold. If you don’t find your student’s university, you can also purchase sorority-specific jewelry or even customize a piece for them. 

Nike Blazer Mid ‘77

These Nike sneakers are paying homage to the classic 70’s basketball shoe. With its leather upper and lining and rubber sole, it gives the shoe a streamlined and sleek look, according to the brand. If your college student doesn’t prefer to wear high-top sneakers, this style is also available in a low version and comes in women’s and men’s sizes. 

Adidas 327 Sneaker

This sneaker strikes the perfect balance between an athletic shoe and a lifestyle shoe. These shoes have been an essential of mine because they provide the right amount of cushioning to walk around campus and complete my day-to-day activities. The unisex shoe (available in men’s and women’s sizing) comes in multiple colorways, from neutrals to brightly colored options to match the wardrobe and preference of your college student.

Why trust Select?

Bianca Alvarez has been covering lifestyle topics for a year and has written about various gift guides including beauty and wellness gifts and teen girl gifts. For this piece, she rounded up expert-recommended products, highly rated ones and Select staff favorites.

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