Ten Must-Have Gadgets for College Students

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Updated January 2018: 

College is many students’ first real introduction to time management. There are papers, exams, study groups and of course, a social life to balance. Managing to do it all and doing it well is important to their success both during college and after graduation. Finding technology gadgets that can assist in achieving this goal are a lifesaver. Step aside, Trapper Keepers and pocket protectors, the times are changing. Here are ten pieces of technology to help students both in and out of class.

USB Drives

You may overlook it as a given, but students have busy schedules and they aren’t always able to complete their assignments in a single setting. Having the ability to save work and come back to it at a later time to complete it is helpful. However, if the student is using another person’s computer or even in a computer lab – they can’t save their work. A USB drive is a portable hard drive in a nutshell. It’s USB plug-insert can be inserted into any accepting device and have files and other important documents loaded on to it for safe keeping. USB drives also come in handy while working on group projects to help share information with colleagues. Though they’re a dime a dozen these days, you should never overlook a nice, sizeable USB thumb drive for the college student in your life.

Smart Phone

These days, smart phones are used for much more than holding conversations. In fact, some models can do just shy of the same task as a tablet or computer. A smart phone will help a student stay connected and aware of what is going in the classroom as well as the entire campus. More and more colleges and universities are using text messages as a method of relaying important information to the student body. Whether it’s information about a study group, class cancellation or campus emergency, smart phones are an essential piece of technology for any college student.


In college, having access to the Internet is important in order to complete a number of important assignments. It’s so important that the average college student couldn’t even make it through a single semester without using the Internet. Making it all the way across campus to the computer lab or finding a computer in the library that isn’t already being used can be a challenge. A netbook gives you the convenience of having the Internet right at your fingertips. It’s small in size and is capable of browsing the Internet, sending and receiving emails and saving documents to its hard drive. The last thing your student needs is fatigue from dragging a monster 17inch notebook from class to class, so a Netbook delivers an excellent compromise of portability and utility.

External Mouse

While laptops are a great tool and often mandated in college, the small mousepad provided below they keyboard can often bring on wrist pain. By purchasing an external mouse, it allows the student to sit in a more natural position while taking notes in class, browsing the internet, studying lectures, creating presentations and more. The mouse is usually attached via USB cord, however many wireless options exist as well and use bluetooth to connect to the laptop.

Digital Pen

In the “olden days”, anything important for class had to be written down. Factor in a full schedule and it’s easy to see that anyone’s hand would be tired from all this writing. A digital pen still has the same functions as a traditional writing instrument, however it has a twist. It has the power to record as well. Students can simply turn on the recorder during class and capture all the notes they would have traditionally had to write. These audio recordings can be downloaded to a computer and listened to as audio files or converted into text documents.


In short, a tablet could easily be considered the mother of all the other gadgets on the list. Tablets, such as the iPad, have the capability to do most, if not all, of the tasks these other gadgets can perform in one small, turbo-charged package. From note-taking to picture-taking, document creation to presentation creation, these devices can do it all. Not to mention the iTunes store and Google play with more than 100,000 apps that can be added to these devices for even more productivity options. This is an essential technology gadget for any college student, both in the classroom and out.


Usually better known as the Amazon Kindle, E-readers allow students to access textbooks without carrying around heavy hard copies. In addition, students can use leisure time to delve into books they choose to read, and to have access to these at any time. Books purchased on an E-reader are generally less expensive than buying a hard copy, and occasionally can be rented or borrowed from a friend for an even cheaper price. Options range from a simple 2 GB Kindle to a Kindle Fire, which has many of the same features as a tablet.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Noise-cancelling headphones can easily be toted around in any book bag and allow students to study distraction-free in a multitude of locations, including at home with loud roommates or at campus libraries which are often more noisy than not. They often cost under $60 and help cut down on pesky background noise. This unique gadget can help students more efficiently use precious study time while taking more challenging courses.


Although it may sound like an obvious gadget for a college student, purchasing a printer with a laptop computer is not always considered anymore. While many projects and assignments can be turned in online these days, there is still a large need for printers at home. Paying to print assignments, articles, lectures, etc at the library or copy shops can quickly add up, while an at-home printer is inexpensive to maintain and the quality can be more easily predicted. Not to mention, this convenient options allows students to complete assignments from the comfort of their own home. Many printers are wireless, allowing students to print whatever they need without physically being attached to their printer.


Everyone loves a coffee shop, restaurant or library boasting free WiFi. Nobody loves a place that offers free WiFi but has a spotty or slow connection. Not to mention, the better places tend to be loud and overrun by others with laptops also looking for a smooth and fast internet connection. MiFi is a portable internet connection that can be used virtually anywhere, allowing students to have fast and secure internet access when they need it. It allows you to track your data usage as well, so you don’t go over your plan.

By Amy Hodgkins, Degree Jungle writer

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