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Top Gifts for the College Student

written by: Haley Drucker•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/19/2011

From electronics to games to essential items for the dorm room, these top gifts college students will love are good options for any occasion. Getting your college student something he or she wants and needs isn't that hard after all.

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    Buying Gifts for College Students

    Need to buy a gift for the college student in your life, but not sure what to get? Luckily, there are a lot of items almost any college student will appreciate. These top gifts for college students are great options to consider for birthdays, holidays, or impromptu care packages. They are affordable and practical, while at the same time fun to give and receive.

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    Most college students now have their own computers, and many other types of electronics are becoming increasingly necessary. Technological gadgets and computer software are always appreciated, as are the following items:

    • Flash Drives: These are invaluable for carrying files back and forth between classes, dorms, and computer labs. Be creative—there are plenty of flash drives out there designed to look like popular movie characters and so on.
    • MP3 Players and iPods: Portable music players make walking back and forth to class a lot more fun, and many students love to listen to music while studying.
    • Printers: There are computer labs on most college campuses, but they are often inconvenient or have only a few communal printers. Having a personal printer is a great convenience that’s well worth the cost of paper and ink (and you have to pay to use the school's printers anyway).
    • Accessories: If your college student already has all the gadgets he or she needs, consider accessories instead. Students will appreciate items like headphones, laptop and phone chargers, phone and iPod cases, laptop bags, and more.
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    The Dorm Room

    Most college students spend at least a few years living in a dorm room. These simple gifts can help make the experience of living in a tiny box with an unfamiliar roommate a little more bearable.

    • Decorations: Dorm rooms are pretty bare, so think about ways to make them more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Area rugs are a great choice, as are posters of the student’s favorite movies or bands.
    • Radio Alarms: A nice alarm clock, especially one with a built in clock-radio, can make it a whole lot easier to get up for those 8 a.m. classes. And they are a lot less obnoxious to roommates who are trying to sleep in late.
    • Non-Perishable Food: Dorm food gets old fast, and sometimes the dining centers aren’t open late into the night. Many students like to stock their rooms with snack food, instant meals, and beverages like soda and bottled water, and will be grateful for a contribution to their stash.
    • Photo Frames: They may say they’re happy to get away from home, but most college students like to keep photos of their family in their dorms or apartments (in addition to photos of friends and significant others, of course).
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    College isn’t all about studying. Practical gifts are nice, but so are gifts that provide an option for study breaks and dorm room socializing.

    • Board Games: Who doesn’t like board games? There are plenty of games that cater to adults as well as kids, and party games like Apples to Apples and Cranium are always a hit.
    • DVDs/Video Games: If your college student has a TV or computer (or both), it’s likely he or she spends a good deal of time glued to the screen. Movies, TV show collections, and video games provide an essential distraction from the stresses of college life.
    • Magazine Subscriptions: It’s nice to have something besides advertisements show up in the mail box from time to time. Magazines are a recurring gift that both serve as entertainment and often have educational value.
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    And last but not least, here are a few more top gifts for college students that don’t fit into the above categories.

    • School Supplies: Besides electronics, there are many simpler, cheaper supplies college students need in order to be prepared for class. Quality notebooks, pens, and folders always come in handy, as do desktop organizers and daily planners.
    • Water Bottles/Travel Mugs: Some days bring class after class with no time to return to the dorm or apartment. Many students like to take water, coffee, or tea along with them on these days, or to early morning classes.
    • Clothes: Whether it’s because they want to look trendy or to put off laundry day as long as possible, college students are happy to receive clothes of any variety. Particularly good options are coats, sweatshirts, gloves, and other winter items that provide protection while walking to class or when the dorm room temperatures are set too cold.
    • Gift Cards: When you can’t think of anything else, gift cards are a go-to gift option for anyone. For college students, consider an Amazon gift card — many do a lot of shopping online (especially for textbooks). Otherwise, get a card to their favorite department, electronics, or bookstore.
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    Got a great idea that's not included on this list? Share in the comments! Parents and relatives all over the world will thank you!