The 9 Best Gifts for College Students in 2019

They're sure to make a statement on campus with these tech gifts

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Monitor: Acer R240HY Monitor

3.8

In a dorm room, space is limited. Most students won’t have room for both a computer monitor and a TV. That’s why the Acer R240HY is the perfect gift: It’s a computer monitor that’ll help with homework (you know, the reason they’re actually at school), but it’s also ideal for using as a TV when streaming movies. Why? Well, for starters, the super vibrant 1920 x 1080 resolution display will rival most HD sets. And the screen affords almost a full 180 degrees of viewing angles for those late nights crowding around flicks with friends.

Best for Music Lovers: Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones

The Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones edge out the crowded pack of over-the-ear headphones through deep, powerful sound (provided by proprietary Bose-engineered designs), a pillow-like headband and precise rotating ear pads, alongside an almost excessively long cable with inline remote. Factor that into pretty serious noise isolation, and these are the perfect “chilling in a dorm bed” headphones. There's a 20-hour battery life per charge (and 40 in wired mode) and they weigh just 10.9 ounces.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best headphones can help you find what you're looking for.

Best Smartwatch: Apple Watch Series 4

Apple Watch Series 4
Apple 

College students have a lot on their plates, from meeting deadlines to managing their schedules to remembering to exercise, and the new Apple Watch Series 4 can offer the wrist-based assistant they didn’t know they needed. With a 30 percent larger display than past models, the Series 4 band comes in three aluminum or three stainless steel finishes, and the watch will also work with any of the previous bands.

For students who need to take a break from the books, the Breathe app offers guided deep breaths to assist with meditation or just winding down. Offering all of the same benefits and apps as its predecessors, the Series 4 boasts improved health features, including an ECG monitor which can help the wearer monitor their athletic performance — perfect for helping students remember not to neglect their wellbeing in the midst of midterms — while also alerting them about any heart abnormality, from a low heartbeat to an irregular rhythm. To ensure you can always get in contact with them, the LTE compatibility results in better cellular reception. 

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best smartwatches article.

Best for Charging Phones: Mophie Powerstation XL

Most people know about Mophie now through their Juice Pack line of battery cases. As a college kid, your phone is kind of like your sidekick, and even though the juice packs work great, the cases make your phone bit bulky. Tossing a Powerstation XL into their backpack will ensure that any student won’t suffer from dying phone syndrome. This particular rose gold model offers 10,000 mAh of power capacity, giving users up to five full charges, depending on the device.

Best Earbuds: Symphonize NRG 3.0 Earbuds

To go with the bigger phones up there, it’s a good idea to toss in something a little more compact, at a price point that you won’t lament if they’re left behind at class. The Symphonize NRG 3.0 buds are super unique, hand-crafted wood headphones with a tangle-free cable, goldplated jack and noise-isolated sound. They’re the perfect happy medium between earbuds that look cool, but are also universal enough to take on a run. Six pairs of custom fit silicone tips will provide optimal comfort, while the in-line microphone makes it easy to adjust volume, skip tracks, activate voice control and answer phone calls in a jiffy.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best earbuds can help you find what you're looking for.

Best for Keeping Track of Belongings: Tile Mate

The thing about college is it’s a brand new experience for most students – the first time they’re stepping out on their own and almost certainly learning how easily they lose their important belongings. For a cool twenty bucks you can gift them the peace of mind to not lose their keys, wallet, etc. Just slip the Tile Mate onto a keyring, into a wallet, or into the back of a backpack and you’ll be able to cue up a GPS pinpoint of exactly where that thing is. Too bad it doesn’t remind them to call home every once in a while.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best key finders can help you find what you're looking for.

Best Bluetooth Speaker: Vizio Crave Go Wireless Speaker

When space is at a premium in dorm rooms, you’ll need a small portable speaker that also packs a punch. But, so many of the Bluetooth speakers out there are either overpriced or under-quality. The Crave treads a really nice line, offering up to 88 dB of sound and bass as low as 75 Hz. Plus, the thing connects via both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so no matter where they are on campus, they’ll definitely be able to connect and bump some tunes. Finally, the thing comes with plenty of app functionality, including Chromecast, built right in.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best Bluetooth speakers can help you find what you're looking for.

Best for Downloading Music: A Spotify Subscription

A huge part of fitting in at school is what music you’re listening to, and what better gift to give a new student than, well, basically all of it? With access to tens of millions of songs, Spotify is the industry standard for streaming, and a premium subscription unlocks ad-free listening and the ability to download songs onto any device for offline use. It’s the perfect add-on to pretty much any gift on this list.

Best Dell Laptop: Dell Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 Laptop

Laptops occupy a difficult tech landscape to navigate, and by many accounts, the Apple range dominates the student world. But $2,000 is a steep price to pay for the laptop, even if it is essential to students’ success. The Dell Inspiron 7000 gives students a tablet and a laptop in the same bundle. Here’s a quick rundown on the specs: an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256 GB solid state drive, and a convertible touchscreen with a 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution. In other words, this thing is the perfect entertainment-meets-schoolwork machine at a pretty stomachable price.

Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best laptops for college students can help you find what you're looking for.

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought one of our readers’ favorite gifts for college students that our reviewers tested for hours at a time for multiple weeks. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this product, from its price to its usability. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in Gifts for College Students

Price - Price is a major consideration when it comes to buying a gift for anyone. Are you purchasing this gift for your own child or for someone who isn’t as close to you? It’s very easy to spend $200 on a gift like this, when your budget might be more like $20. That’s why it’s important to set your price range in advance.

What they need - It’s important to customize your gift based on the person you’re buying for. Are they forgetful? A Tile key finder to help them keep track of their belongings might be helpful. Or, if they're trying to reach fitness goals, an Apple Watch could be a great gift.

What they want - In addition to thinking about what they need, it’s important to think about what the college student in your life might want. What gift might excite them? What are their interests? If they love music, then a Spotify subscription or set of headphones might be a hit. Or, if they’ve got all the devices they need, a power bank for charging might be a thoughtful gesture.

Test Results: Acer R240HY Monitor (Best Monitor)

3.8

What We Like

  • Sleek design

  • Clear picture

  • Ergonomic tilt feature

What We Don't Like

  • Cable port placement isn’t ideal

  • Can’t adjust height

Acer R240HY Monitor
Acer R240HY

“I think this monitor has great color and shows great image quality for the price,” revealed one of our testers. Our reviewers also liked the “zero frame” look of the monitor: “[It] doesn’t make my desk area feel chunky,” explained one of our testers. On the flip side, one of our reviewers felt the cable port placement made the wires stick out too much and prevented the monitor from being pushed up against the wall. And while one of our testers like the ergonomic tilt feature, she also wished the height could be adjusted. Overall? One of our testers called this a “great option” for anyone on a budget who is in search of a “good-looking monitor with great color.”