Tech, gadgets and gear every new college freshman should have on hand

For high school graduates ready to cruise into freshman year with all their bases covered.

student with laptop
Photo courtesy of mocker_bat/AdobeStock

One might argue that trial and error is an important aspect of being a college student. However, if you could go back in time and beg your freshman self to back up your files on a hard drive because your friend Greg is invariably going to spill cheap red wine on your laptop, you probably would. While there aren’t any means of time travel that we know of, there are gadgets and gear that can make life a little easier for the incoming college freshman in your life.


The right apps can make juggling schoolwork, part-time jobs and socializing that much easier for college students. Apps like Evernote and iStudiez allow users to map out their semesters with daily and monthly to-do lists and set reminders for due dates and exams. EasyBib, which speeds up the tedious but requisite task of creating bibliographies for research papers, is also available as an app. Venmo is a popular app that lets users send money to pay back friends or family for late-night library snacks and the like. And with just two taps on the screen, the much-lauded Circle of 6 app is programmed to send a predetermined text message and the user’s exact location to six trusted friends or family members, alerting them that the user is in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation.


College freshmen are quickly immersed in a new environment, and it can be a comfort to have helpful—and witty—guides that help make the transition into new educational and social systems a little easier. Books like How to Be a Person: The Stranger’s Guide to College, Sex, Intoxicants, Tacos, and Life Itself; The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run into in College; and The Freshman Survival Guide: Soulful Advice For Studying, Socializing, and Everything in Between are great resources offering tips and advice on everything from doing laundry to throwing parties.

Tech & Gadgets

Be sure to come to school equipped with a pair of noise-canceling headphones, as there’s always a chance freshmen might need to tune out their new roommate’s tearful Skype calls at 3 a.m. to long-distance significant others. A flash drive will also come in handy should students need to transfer documents from their laptops to a lab computer in a pinch. (How about a Game of Thrones-themed flash drive?) And getting into the habit of backing up documents on sites like DropBox will stave off technology-related anxiety.


While college cafeterias are typically never too far, there are also food subscription boxes that can serve as a saving grace during final exams. Many of the snack box options out there are less than $20 per month and are customizable. For example, MunchPak curates popular snacks from around the world and delivers them to subscribers’ doorsteps. Or students could opt for a nutritionist-approved box like Graze and Urthbox.


All college students should have a First Aid kit for surprise emergencies. This all-purpose First Aid kit comes with Band-Aids, burn-relief gel, ibuprofen, aspirin and Tylenol. And since most college freshmen have to use communal bathrooms, don’t forget to pick up a durable pair of shower shoes like these antimicrobial water sandals from Showaflops and  a quick-drying portable shower caddy that won’t grow mold in between shower times, like this one from Amazon.

(Back to School Guide)