Gifts For First Year College Students

21 Useful College Gifts For First Year College Students

  • Useful college gifts are always the best gift ideas for college freshmen. These useful college gifts are things college students want and a college freshman will appreciate them very much.
  • You will find such useful college gifts for first year college students in this article.

College is an exciting new world of adventure. It’s the first opportunity to get a real shot at growing up outside the shelter and confines of home. There are exciting motivational activities, leadership opportunities and loads of fun to be had, and ultimately graduation from college as a step to the world of work and making a living for one’s self. And that is why for the new college student, the first year is something to look forward to.

The first year of college or freshman year as it is popularly known is usually exciting for the new college freshman. Although of course there will be the usual anxiety and bittersweet feeling of not knowing what to expect. But all in all, the prospect of going to college to meet other college students and freshmen is always exciting especially for the high school student who had been looking forward to college for a long time.

And you want to encourage them with a useful college gift that will come in very handy for their first year at college. And in this article, we will make it easy to find that gift because we understand that it can be overwhelming knowing exactly what to get given the unlimited gift options available out there. This article provides an exhaustive list of both essential and other useful college gifts for a college freshman.

If your friend/loved one is a college freshman in the medical field, we have the following dedicated articles for the medical students which will be very useful in finding medic-themed gifts for medical students. Be sure to check them out –


To give good college gifts for your college freshman, it is always best to give useful college gifts that would help them at college. A freshman wants a useful college gift and if you are wondering what type of things college students want to know what useful college gift to give, here is a list of useful college gifts that a college freshman will appreciate very much.


One paramount concern for a college student, especially those who may be on a scholarship program, is to excel in their first year so that they can retain their scholarship and move seamlessly to the second and other years of college. And having the right school and/or classroom supply is key to seamlessly navigating studies. Here are the top classroom/school needs of a college freshman and which will be great gifts to give them:

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Quick Overview: Gifts for First Year College Students

21 Useful College Gifts For First Year College Students

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A Good Laptop and Its Accessories.

A good laptop with good memory space and long battery life is critical to the life of a college student. Almost all aspects of college life are digitized, and without a good laptop, your college freshman will have a nightmarish first year in college. And this remains the case even if the fresher prefers taking handwritten notes in class. They will still need to access a large chunk of college materials that will need a laptop. This laptop and its accessories will come in very handy for a college freshman.

1. The Latest HP 14 FHD Laptop.

This HP laptop packs a lot of power. It is very slim and compact with a 14inch screen. It comes with the latest 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 Processor, with a whopping 12GB DDR4 and 512GB of memory. It also comes with an additional iPuzzle mouse pad and the Windows 10 OS. The battery life is also remarkable; being able to stay on for at least 8 hours on a full charge. It is the perfect laptop for a college freshman to start college with and they will love it very much. It is relatively affordable for the power that it packs when compared to similar laptops with the same features in the market. It is a good investment to make for a college student’s study life.


  • It comes with an extra iPuzzle mouse pad.
  • It has long battery life.
  • It has 512GB of memory which is plenty of room for school stuff.
  • It is very slim and lightweight.
  • The processor is one of the top of the range processors.
  • It has 12GB DDR4.
  • It comes with free Amazon tech support.
  • It has a 1-year warranty.
  • It has a micro SD card reader slot and 3 USB ports.


  • As at the time of writing, this laptop has received only raving positive reviews.
  • You may however find it a little pricey but it is a very worthy investment.
  • It is also not a touchscreen.

HP’s reputation for laptops with long battery life is well-known and that consideration should always be top on the list for any college student laptop. But this laptop does more than that; it is an entire powerhouse that a student will be so proud and happy to have and you can be sure that the college freshman you give this to will be deeply grateful. And the many customers who bought this product agree.

If you are looking for something a little pricey but still in the HP range, you can check out this The Latest HP Envy 13 Laptop. It is also amazing and comes with an extra iPuzzle external hard drive.

2. Microsoft Surface Mobile Mouse.

Using a mouse on a laptop makes it a lot quicker to navigate through several pages and the likes, and that is exactly what this powerhouse mouse does. It is also very light, you would not even notice it is there, and it is ergonomic meaning it won’t put any strain on the hand when used. It is the perfect accessory for the HP powerhouse laptop that you will buy.


  • It is very lightweight.
  • It functions very well.
  • It has a 30-day return policy.
  • It is wireless.
  • The free Amazon tech support is also included with the purchase.
  • It works with AAA batteries.
  • The scroll wheel works seamlessly.


  • It does not come with batteries.
  • For someone who prefers a large mouse, this would be small for them.
  • You may find it a little pricey but it is worth every cent.

This is one mouse that looks and feels great. It is sleek and yet very functional and powerful. For lovers of a small, sleek, and powerful mouse, they will love this nifty machine.

If you’re into all things HP including for your mouse and other things, you will like this HP Wireless Mouse.

3. A Mouse Pad With Inspiration.

This is not just your ordinary mouse pad, it is a mouse pad with the precise dose of inspiration that a college freshman constantly needs in college. And it is very functional too. It is sturdy and stays in place and supports the mouse well and the size is perfect.


  • It is small and lightweight and can be easily carried around.
  • It is sturdy and stays in place.
  • It provides the right support for the mouse.
  • It is cheap.
  • It has the right dose of inspiration.


  • There are only positive reviews and ratings for this gift item.

Inspiration plus functionality plus sleek and stylish look all packed in one. You can’t go wrong with this mouse pad.

4. Adjustable Laptop Stand.

The right laptop stand is very important in helping keep the laptop in good shape and providing structural support to the body when using the laptop. This laptop stand is great because it is not only adjustable, but it also comes with two built-in fans for cooling the laptop while it is in use. The beauty of this laptop stand lies in the fact that if your college freshman wants to use their laptop on their bed for a change, they can still do so on a solid surface without having to hunch over.


  • The legs are adjustable.
  • It has two inbuilt cooling fans.
  • It comes with a bonus mouse pad.
  • It is already assembled.
  • It can be used for other purposes.
  • It can hold the weight of any laptop.
  • It can be carried around.


  • The cooling fans need to be powered by a USB cord to work.
  • One customer had difficulties adjusting the legs.
  • It will be a little bulky to carry around but it is still carryable.

This laptop stand will ensure that your college freshman does not have to hunch over if they want to use their laptop on their bed for instance. And they can also carry it with them wherever they are going to if they want to.

5. SanDisk 128GB USB Flash Drive.

A flash drive will be very handy and useful for sharing and receiving files from other students especially when they don’t have their laptop on them. It is a very useful device for a college student to have. And this flash drive has plenty of storage space to last your college freshman for the year.


  • It has 128GB of storage space.
  • It is small and lightweight.
  • It is compatible with all devices.
  • It has a 5-year warranty.
  • It comes with Secure-Access software to be able to password-protect files.


  • Some customers have complained that it enters write-protect mode without prompting.
  • Some customers have also complained that it does not function very well.

The reviews on this product are mixed, and with flash drives, it is always a risky purchase. The warranty on this product however guarantees that you can return it if it does not function properly.

A Good Backpack and/or Messenger Bag.

In college, the schedule is crazy, and having to move from one class to the other can be quite daunting and will daze the college freshman the first month or two at college. Without a proper backpack, it will mean struggling to carry both the laptop and all their necessary writing materials without strain. And for the college freshman that prefers messenger bags to backpacks, they still need a sturdy one with a good shoulder strap/support. These 3 are the top backpacks/messenger bags to consider buying.

6. RMS Laptop Backpack.

When it comes to a backpack, you want one that can also double up as a laptop bag and still be roomy enough for all your books and college materials and sturdy enough to provide balanced support on your shoulder when you are carrying it. And that is what this backpack does for a college student.


  • It has a separate laptop compartment.
  • It is very roomy.
  • It is durable.
  • It can take a 17-inch laptop. 
  • The back has a breathable mesh.
  • It provides a comfortable balance on the shoulder.
  • It has a headphone and water compartment and several other compartments for other essentials.
  • The laptop compartment can lay flat for going through airport scanners.


  • It does not have a USB charging port.
  • Aside from the absence of the USB port, customers who purchased this have only good things to say about it.

The absence of the USB port should not be a reason not to purchase this very sturdy and durable laptop backpack. It is not very stylish but it is very functional and that is exactly what the college freshman.

This JanSport Laptop Backpack is another good alternative to consider.

7. Zelda Link Rucksack.

This backpack is for the college student who wants a sleek and stylish backpack that is still sturdy and functional and very durable. This backpack is also roomy with great and durable material and good shoulder support, but it does not have plenty of compartments like the earlier backpack although it has the necessary compartments. Customers have complimented the quality and durability and how padded the laptop compartment is. A female college freshman will love this backpack to bits.


  • The laptop compartment is padded.
  • The material is strong and durable.
  • The shoulder support is strong and comfortable.
  • It is very roomy inside.
  • It has two side pockets with straps.
  • It is very stylish and sleek.


  • It does not have a USB charging port.
  • It does not have a lot of compartments.
  • Some customers complained that they received a defective product.
  • It is a little pricey but worth every cent.

Parents who bought this backpack for their college freshman said the freshman loved it very much, and you can be sure that the college freshman you give this as a gift will love it very much. The extent of the durability of this backpack makes the price worth it.

8. Buffalo Leather Briefcase Laptop Messenger Bag.

This bag is for the college freshman that prefers messenger bags to backpacks. This one is very strong and made from relatively good leather material with a good shoulder strap support.


  • It is made of buffalo leather.
  • It is relatively roomy.
  • It can take a laptop.
  • It is stylish and looks vintage.
  • The shoulder strap is sturdy and strong.


  • It cannot take a laptop of more than 15-inches.
  • It does not have many compartments.
  • Aside from these, it has only 5-star ratings and reviews at the time of writing.

This messenger bag ticks all the right boxes for what a college student needs in a bag. And if their preference is a shoulder bag, this is the one to give them.

For a small crossbody bag that is durable and can be carried about easily without the burden of size, you can check out this Vere Gloria Messenger Bag.

A Good Printer and Printing Accessories.

Even though the college your freshman will be attending will have printing facilities available, nothing beats having one’s printer especially when it is a tight deadline for submitting an assignment. The following affordable printer and printing accessories will be loved by a college freshman.

9. HP Envy 6055 All-In-One Printer.

This HP laptop is small and compact and can fit perfectly in any room. It also prints very well both for black and white and color printing. This one comes with an extra $5 instant ink code. The downside with it is that it is expensive to replace the ink/toner. However, this can be solved by subscribing to the HP Instant Ink plan and this will save the college freshman some money on the toner/ink.


  • It is an all-in-one printer – print, scan, and copy.
  • The printing output quality is great.
  • It comes with a 1-year warranty.
  • It connects to phones easily.
  • It comes with a $5 instant ink code.
  • The printer sends a notification to HP on low ink when on the instant ink plan. They deliver a replacement ink as soon as the notification is received.


  • Some customers have complained about the difficulties with getting help when they ran into problems.
  • The ink/toner can run out quickly if a lot of printing is done.

Despite the few customers that had some challenges with this laptop, a great majority of the customers said this was a great laptop, especially for college. Overall, it is a great gift for a college freshman.

10. Printing Paper 5-Ream Set.

This combo set means that your college freshman will not run out of printing paper anytime soon. The printer purchased above will be incomplete without this printing paper to go with it.


  • Each paper ream has 500 printing papers.
  • The papers are compatible with all printers.
  • The paper quality is great.


  • One customer complained about the quality of the paper.
  • Another customer said they received it in a bad condition.

Overall, a great majority of the customers agree that this is the best paper to use on an inkjet printer to help it last longer and to have less jamming. The printer in this article is an inkjet printer and that is what makes this the printing paper of choice for your college freshman.

Writing material/Stationery.

The importance of a good supply of writing materials is the next top priority on the list of useful college gifts for a college freshman. A college freshman will be grateful for all or any of these stationery as gifts.

11. 100 Sheets Wirebound Spiral Notebook Set.

Wirebound notebooks are best for college and notetaking because they fold easily and are better to manage. This wire-bound notebook set comes with 6 notebooks of different colors. The different colors make it easy to distinguish which one is for which subject. Notwithstanding the advent of notetaking with laptops, the traditional handwriting will always remain tested and trusted.


  • Each book has 100 double-sided lined pages.
  • It comes with 2 pocket page dividers for storing loose sheets.
  • It is easy to tear off.
  • The covers are durable.
  • The paper does not bleed through when written on.


  • One customer complained that they received the wrong item.

This is a good notebook set for a college freshman. It does what it is meant to do very well.

12. Docket Gold Writing Pads.

Writing pads are another important must-have in terms of writing materials. They are very good for making rough notes, diagrams, and sketches and showing one’s thought process without having to disorganize one’s notebook. This particular writing pad feels regal and would make writing in college enjoyable.


  • There are 8 writing pads in the pack.
  • It has a thick back cover.
  • The spaces and lines are perfectly spaced out.
  • It does not bleed through when written on.


  • It does not tear out easily.

This is a writing pad that a college freshman will love to write with in college.

13. Felt Tip Pens Set.

Felt pens are usually smooth to write with and this felt pen set is a winner for this quality. They are also lightweight and easy to use, although it will bleed through thin notebooks.


  • There are 16 pens in the pack.
  • The pens have different colors.
  • They write well.
  • They are comfortable to use.


  • They bleed through thin notebooks.

A college freshman will love this set of pens because not only do they write well but they come in different colors and can be used for color-coding in their notetaking. And with the quality of notebooks suggested in this article, you don’t have to worry about the pen bleeding through on the notebooks.

If you’re a lover of the Bic brand and prefer them, check out this pack of Bic Ballpoint Pen Set with plenty of pens to last them a long time.

14. Big Capacity Pencil/Pen Case.

A Pencil/Pen Case is very important to be able to hold all the pens, pencils, highlighters, markers, sticky notes and flags, and other writing materials together neatly in one place. This pencil/pen case is very roomy with several compartments for different writing materials. And with college trips being inevitable, this can also double up as a nice travel bag for the small essentials.


  • It has several compartments.
  • It is small but roomy.
  • It is lightweight and easy to carry about.
  • It is made of durable and good quality material.
  • It can serve other purposes.
  • It can be used by both a male and a female student.


  • The color will show dirt easily. 
  • If one prefers a large pencil case, this may be too small for them.

With a pencil case, you also don’t want something too big and heavy to carry about because the laptop backpack can still fit a lot of writing materials. This pencil case is just the perfect size for a college freshman.

Other Cool Stationery Accessories.

These accessories will make it easy for the college freshman to stay on top of their studies, and make the whole studying experience smooth and enjoyable for them during their first year in college.

15. Combination White Board & Bulletin Cork Board.

A corkboard is important for pinning up sticky notes and other papers with important information that the college student needs to stay reminded about. A whiteboard is good for writing important notes and points. Both are very important for a college student and the new college freshman. This set has both in one place and that is what makes it perfect.


  • The whiteboard is easy to write on.
  • The corkboard holds pins very well.
  • It is lightweight.
  • It is easy to set up.
  • It comes with a magnetic drywipe eraser. 
  • It also comes with magnetic markers, some magnets, and some colored pins.


  • The erasing on the whiteboard could smudge the corkboard because of how close together they are.

Overall, the customer satisfaction on this combination board leaves no doubt that it will be a good purchase for a college freshman. And because it comes with all the needed accessories for using it, it saves you the additional cost of having to purchase them individually.

16. Desk Lamp with USB Charging Port.

A desk lamp is also crucial for studying at night especially if the college freshman wants to switch off the light in the room and only have light at their study area. This desk lamp sits well on the study table and does not take up too much space. It also has a USB charging port which means that a college student can easily charge their phone next to them while studying.


  • It has a USB charging port.
  • It is touch controlled.
  • The light works perfectly.
  • It does not take up too much space.
  • It auto-turns off after an hour.
  • It rotates easily at the base.
  • It has 5 brightness settings.
  • It is also sleek and stylish.


  • The lamp head does not rotate.
  • The top of the lamp heats up in full bright mode.

These cons notwithstanding, this remains a terrific study table lamp for a college freshman and indeed any college student. It is both sleek, stylish, and very functional.

Other good and important writing materials/stationary for getting organized are:

Super Sticky Notes Combo Set.

Sticky notes work the same way as flashcards. They help to pin important information so that they stand out from the rest.

Flags Assorted Color Combo Pack.

Flag tabs work the same way as bookmarkers except they are smaller and more colorful so they stand out. These will come in handy for a college freshman.

Pocket Highlighter Set.

Highlighters are also important for drawing emphasis to important points in a notebook or textbook. Every college freshman needs a set of highlighters and this set is great. If you prefer the Sharpie brand, this Sharpie 10 Pack Liquid Highlighters is another good alternative.

Pencils Set.

Pencils may seem outdated but they are not. Pencils will come in handy for a college freshman when they want to think and write and still be able to erase them easily. If they have a preference for 2HB then this Pre-sharpened Wood Cased #2 HB Pencils Pack would be a good option.

Desktop Staplers.

A good stapler is important for holding papers together. And it will be needed as there will be plenty of loose papers that will be handed out during the semester. Keeping them stapled will prevent their getting lost or misplaced.

Mesh Waste Basket.

This wastebasket will help collect paper waste in the room while studying.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year.

This book is considered a college hack book for freshmen and helps in providing good answers for when a college freshman needs it but doesn’t exactly want to ask his/her peers.

Night Light Bluetooth Speaker.

This Bluetooth speaker is great because it also doubles as a night light, so killing two birds with one stone.

Scissors Bulk 3-Pack.

Scissors will come in handy for cutting up small papers and other things that may need to be cut up for an assignment or course work.

Mesh Desk Organizer.

This desk organizer is small and does not take up too much space and still gets the work done of keeping the college freshman organized.

Desk Donut Push Pin Holder.

This pin holder will help hold the pins that will be used for tacking on the corkboard. It will help with organizing them in one easy to access place.

Dry Erase Marker.

You can buy this extra set to compliment the bonus set that comes with the combination board. It is for the whiteboard and is easy to erase after use.


Dorm room supplies are also important because without the minimum level of comfort, the college freshman will not enjoy school very much, and this may in turn affect their ability to concentrate at studies and get good grades.

With dorm room supplies, however, less is always more and less is always better especially for the first year at college. This is because the student is yet to settle in and know what is allowed and not allowed. And if they come in with too much stuff, they may find out that they don’t need a lot of the stuff they brought, either because it may already be on the college premises, or the college does not allow it. In this list are the very essential basics a college freshman will need to have an enjoyable first year at college.

17. Mini Fridge.

A fridge is an essential electric gadget for a fresher to have in their dorm room because they can store perishable food items inside it to preserve them and keep them fresh. This mini-fridge is great because it is small and not too difficult to move around. It will fit in very well in a fresher’s room by their bedside or anywhere else in the room they want to position it.


  • It has ample space for all a fresher will need at college.
  • The temperature can be regulated.
  • It has a small freezer.
  • It does not take up too much space.
  • The compressor has a 2-year warranty.


  • The bars on the door for holding bottles are fixed.
  • It is not a very silent fridge.

These cons notwithstanding, this is a good powerhouse of a fridge to buy for a college freshman. They will always have a cold drink and other food items handy.

18. The College Student First Aid Kit.

Accidents can happen even in a college dorm room and a quick to access first aid kit with the essentials is very vital because there may not always be time to go to the college nurse when an emergency arises. This kit is the best because it comes with all the needed supplies and more and it is said to be packed by a college nurse which means that it will have all the necessaries that a college student will need, in this case, a college freshman.


  • It has all the first aid supplies that a college student will need.
  • It comes in a nice container.
  • It is packaged by a college nurse.


  • It may seem pricey but it is worth every cent. Also bear in mind that were you to purchase the items individually you will spend a lot more.

There can be no price tag to having an adequate supply in your college freshman’s first aid kit. This is a worthwhile investment to make in the things you buy for a college student. 

You may also like this Dorm Survival Kit.

19. Bedside Caddy Organizer.

This bedside caddy is great for holding study materials for when a college student wants to be lazy and study from their bed. It even has room for their laptop.


  • It has several compartments including for a laptop.
  • It holds up well under the weight of the things inside it.
  • It is easy to set up.
  • It is lightweight.


  • It may not be very durable.

Given the price of this item, the durability con is to be expected. Overall though, it is a good bedside caddy to get started on as a college freshman.

You may also like this Bedside Shelf for Bunk Beds if they use bunks in their dorm room.

20. Engraved Moon Lamp.

A female college freshman will love this moon lamp very much because of the very sweet and thoughtful message from her mum on it. As a mum, this is a very thoughtful and beautiful night lamp to give your daughter. Every night she uses it, she is reminded of your love for her because your message of love is staring right back at her.


  • It is engraved with a lovely heartwarming message.
  • The light is bright.
  • It comes with a stand.
  • It automatically stops charging when it is fully charged.


  • It does not work when it is charging.
  • It has only two light colors.

A beautiful and heartfelt night lamp for a female college freshman.

21. Hanging Toiletry Bag.

A hanging toiletry bag will make taking a shower more enjoyable and something to look forward to. This good quality toiletry bag comes with a hanger for hanging on the shower while having easy access to one’s toiletries. The hanger is also sturdy and firm and holds well even under the weight of the contents inside the bag and it has a lot of compartments for taking different toiletries.


  • The hanger is firm and strong.
  • It has a lot of compartments.
  • It is very roomy.
  • It is sleek and stylish.


  • Some customers complained that the hanger fell off when it was hung.
  • Other customers also complained that it tore when they used it the first time.

It is difficult to say whether this is a durable product but the customer satisfaction on it is also many, suggesting that it is a good toiletry bag to buy for the shower especially. But even outside the shower room, it is a good toiletry bag for holding all toiletries in one place.

Check out our article on Gifts for New Roommate for other college dorm room gift ideas.


These extra gifts are unique and good college gifts that would help the first year college student.

College Care Package.

This care package has all that a college student will love to have to snack on while studying and also for staying awake.

YETI Travel Mug.

This mug is great for having coffee on the go in between lectures especially if they are late in the morning and can’t have the coffee in their room.

College Student Mug.

This is a funny but great coffee mug for a college freshman to have their coffee and other hot beverages with. In a way, it will always remind them of what they are in college for.

Pepper Spray Combo.

For a female college student especially, a pepper spray is always good to have as a safety gadget in case they are in any sort of trouble when going back to their dorm room at night.

Travel Camping Cutlery Set.

This will be very helpful for that college trip or hike. They won’t have to worry about carrying heavy cutlery that would stick out.

Non-Stick Rapid Noodles Cooker.

Cooking a full meal all the time may not be possible given college schedules. This nifty cooker however helps with quick-cooking a noodle in a nice delicious way.


What are some fun gifts for college students?

The gifts in this article will be both fun and useful good college gifts for the college freshman and any college student.

What are some good presents for college students?

All the gifts in this article are good presents for college students.

How about Christmas gift ideas for college students?

The question of what to get college students for Christmas will depend sometimes on where they will spend their Christmas.

If they will be spending it at home with the family and would therefore have a family Christmas tree, you can buy them any of these college-themed Christmas ornaments for their Christmas tree at home – My First Christmas in College Ornament or this Personalized Dorm Door Christmas Tree Ornament.

If they will be spending Christmas at college, however, you can buy them any gifts in this article or simply give them an Amazon Print at Home Gift Card for them to spoil themselves with whatever they want.

What is a good birthday gift for a college student?

Any of the gifts in this article will also be good birthday gifts for a college student.

How about gifts for (female, male) college students?

All the gifts in this article are suitable for both female and male college students. Where a gift item is specifically for one gender, this is mentioned when describing the gift item.


College is an exciting stage in any fresher’s life and useful college gifts will go a long way in helping them settle in at college. This article provides an in-depth and exhaustive list of all that you can buy a first year college student.







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