Essential Tech Gadgets To Take To College

Friday, May 31, 2024
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Every generation must contend, adapt, and integrate new technologies into their daily lives. Whether it's work or school, babysitting or dog walking, or even looking for places to eat and shop, technology has become a must-have. Nowhere is this more apparent and applicable than in the 21st-century college classroom. For example, the idea of the so-called “classroom.” The average college student could earn their entire degree through virtual classrooms without ever stepping onto campus. Parents and students alike go online to track the campus maps, the campus dining options, and the campus outreach programs. Gone are the days of flyers hung outside the student center’s main doorway. 

According to the American University School of Education, technology “enables students to explore new subjects and deepen their understanding of difficult concepts, particularly in STEM. Through technology inside and outside the classroom, students can gain 21st-century technical skills necessary for future occupations.” Technology has changed several ways that students in college perform their necessary class requirements, as well as the ways they generally structure their day-to-day routines. There are pros and cons to this new normal, and it is important to take a closer look at which pieces of technology work best in a college setting. 

Outlined below is a list of some effective technological tools any college student will benefit from having. These items differ tremendously, both in terms of price, as well as practicality. But you must be aware of what gadgets are available to you as you embark on this new journey. So take a look at these seven essential gadgets every college student needs. 

Smart Notebook, iPad, or Laptop

When it comes to the virtual world of higher education, it is almost imperative in this day and age that every student comes to the classroom equipped with a laptop or smart screen. While the average laptop may be considered “old” in the history of technology, these ever-evolving pieces of machinery are generally the best tool for operating throughout college, no matter the subject, professor, or type of homework. From art to history to science, the average college professor will assign readings, homework, references, and class notes all through the university’s online portal. A student’s access to this educational arena will make the laptop one of, if not the most necessary, tool in their book bag. Sometimes a regular laptop can be swapped out for an iPad, as long as it comes with a keypad attached, or any type of laptop-sized smart device with keypad access. 


Price Range: $300–$1,000


Noise Canceling Headphones

headphones NSHSS

It is no secret that it is becoming harder and harder to focus. According to an article featured in the National Geographic website, the number of adults who have been diagnosed with some form of ADHD has risen 4.4% since 2006. When you enter college, you may be struck by how many students you encounter throughout your day, as well as the amount of noise, which elevates the possibility of distraction. Investing in a solid and sturdy pair of noise-canceling headphones is a great way to get your mind, your ears, and even your eyes focused. The effects are overwhelming, whether they come in the shape and size of small Apple AirPods, or they resemble robust canons. By blocking out all the errant noise and focusing on the task in front of them, students can learn to concentrate better and feel less distracted and stimulated by the outside forces that a lively and thriving campus may offer them. 


Price Range: $50–$300


External Hard-Drive

Let us be honest with each other momentarily: nothing is safe these days. The internet is vast, computers have bugs, and the cloud is still as unknowable as the data it collects. But for several generations now, a wonderful backstop has existed for those of us who have lost important documents and wish others to avoid the same pitfalls. It is time you invested a little of your hard-earned summer job savings into an external hard drive. These devices are essentially an extra digital storage locker. By allowing for more external memory, your .zip files, .pdfs, and any other schoolwork can be backed up on these devices. These sleek, sturdy little bricks come in all shapes, designs, and even weights. They generally come with a short USB cord that can fit into just about any laptop or desktop. Depending on the amount of memory on the hard drive, you can save hundreds of documents on a single drive. These are wonderful for any student who might float from one laptop or desktop to another, or for those in a more visually-driven field of study, such as art, graphic design, or film school and need to save their work on a separate device that they can take to an editing bay on campus. While they may not be as flashy as some of our other options, they will likely save you a lot of trouble and turmoil in the long run. And, compared to some of our other choices, they are cheaper. Heck, ask your parents, they might have an older one lying around in the back of a drawer somewhere!


Price Range: $40–$100


Smart Coffee Maker

coffee machine NSHSS

What would the world be without a good cup of coffee? Many adults consider coffee to be an essential way to start their day. Whether working remotely, on the go, or just stopping for brunch with your friends, coffee will be a must. This is incredibly evident in college. According to a study done by Clinical Nutrition in 2019, an average 92% of college students drink some type of caffeine regularly. And with either a Starbucks or Dunkin on just about every campus, not to mention all the vending machines around campus selling Java Monsters, Celsius, and Red Bull, it is no wonder that percentage is so high. Luckily, there is a cheaper, more manageable, and some say healthier way to get your caffeine fix every morning. By investing in a smart coffee maker such as a Keurig, Nespresso machine, or any other instant coffee maker, you can regulate your budget and caffeine intake at the rate you choose. It is much cheaper than stopping by the nearest Dunkin’ on your way to class, and it offers a chance to experiment with different coffee flavors, teas, and even hot chocolate. These little countertop machines are perfect for a college student on-the-go. 

Price Range: $30–$70


Phone Charging Case

If there is an apt metaphor for describing life as a college student, it is that of the cell phone being constantly drained of battery. Students are always on the go, sometimes not returning to the dorm until after dark. All the while they’re using their phones. Although most campus libraries, student centers, and cafeterias now offer cell phone charging stations, investing in your own portable charging port or case might be wise. There are plenty of options out there, but given how common it is for students to use their cell phones, it is wise to ensure that the phone is charged throughout the day. The last place you want your battery to die is when you’re crossing campus in the dark. Don’t let your cell phone battery drain alongside your energy level!

Price Range: $50–$200


Fitness Tracker

Setting goals is an important step in gaining and then maintaining success, especially when it comes to your fitness routine.From calorie tracking to the number of steps you take daily, a fitness tracker is a fantastic way to monitor how much work your body is putting into your daily routine. If you are a student and you are interested in fitness of any kind, this little wristband device might be the best way to keep up with your workouts while you’re keeping up with your assignments. Moreover, some of these devices can even sync right to your phone and monitor your texts and calls while you walk. 

Price Range: $20–$70



When buying or renting books every semester, it can be daunting to carry around so many textbooks in one day. Luckily, there is now a way to carry as many books as you want all in one device. Some of you might be thinking, “Can’t my iPad do the same thing?” And, in a sense, you’re right. But sometimes it is handy to separate your reading assignments from all your other projects or interests. Most E-Readers also come equipped with abilities such as changing the font size, highlighting important passages, and looking up the definitions of keywords. 

Price Range: $30–$80


Whether you are brand new to the college experience or have a couple of semesters already under your belt, staying updated with all the benefits that technology can provide is good. As the saying goes, everything is good in moderation. Noise-canceling headphones should not be worn all day, and a personal coffee machine should be handled carefully. But these gadgets offer different ways to help you stay on task while providing a more fun, dynamic, and simpler way to get the job done. 

College is hard, and it can be very expensive. Therefore, every student must decide for themselves what will work best for them, both personally and financially. We at NSHSS want to help you invest wisely and safely in your future. Check out our website to find more resources and tips. And be sure to follow us on social media for all things education!