When you start looking for gift ideas for the college freshman, keep this mindset: the only people who understand college freshmen are other college freshmen. In other words, if you are trying to figure out what is important to them, what they are interested in, or what the hottest item is, chances are the “experts” are already behind and the new hottest thing is only known by the college freshmen themselves.
Therefore, I advocate giving cold, hard, universal CASH. I know it isn’t terribly personal, but the one thing that is constant with freshmen is that they need money and they spend money. Tuition, books, electronics, pizza, parties, and household supplies all cost money, and many freshmen don’t have much of it. This is a hard concept for some people because they want to give that “meaningful” gift that they will always cherish. This is why people give those reindeer sweaters, the holiday coffee mug, or that new tie. They like that sense of tangibility. But again, keep one thing in mind. When it comes to freshmen, it is their world and you are just visiting.
If you can’t bring yourself to give cash because you fear it will just be spent on beverages or other frivolities, you can always go with the gift card so as to give the freshmen freedom within boundaries. These days, EVERYONE has gift cards. In addition, the internet-savvy freshman can go online and order something with their gift card without having to hassle with going to the store.
So there you have it. Stick with gifts that give your college freshman freedom to make choices on their own. If they ask for something specific, you can certainly get it for them. However, if you aren’t sure what to get remember that the college freshman tends to live in the moment. They therefore tend to be more concerned with meeting their short-term needs than getting that warm fuzzy feeling because you spent a lot of mental energy picking the right gift. Happy shopping!