15 Swag Ideas for College Students

July 31, 2020

15 Swag Ideas for College Students

What IS a good give away for college students? (Updated 2022)

Colleges and universities are gearing up for students to either hit campuses all over the nation or participate remotely. This year, on line universities are even more popular.

One word: swag. College students love it! What’s the best way to get your brand in the hands of hundreds, or even thousands of college students? Giveaways!

So whether your campus is setting the bar for incoming freshman, or welcoming students for your MBA program, campus giveaways are a big part of helping them get organized while showing school spirit as well as concern for their health and safety. Collegiate life may be different this year, but it's still, well,  collegiate life and promotional items help students connected.

But before you choose, we have a tip that may come as a shock.

You aren't necessarily doing your school or university any favors buying the same swag items for college students v  MBA students. Sure, some college promotional swag items are useful and loved by all, but there is a different message you're trying to send to each group.

Choosing the right giveaway sends the right message. Choosing the wrong swag obviously sends the wrong message, but it also wastes your promotional items' budget if you fail to attract their attention. 

As college students begin to pile into dorms or apartments well-stocked with bedding and kitchen basics, sponsors looking to connect with the campus crowd are seeking swag ideas.

And, as we all know, the best swag ideas are those useful items that keep students more organized or better equipped for student life!

We're going to give you a few quick tips on branding your college or school swag in a way that's a win for both the students and your bottom line.

And then we'll show you 15 of the best college swag ideas for students at all levels.

School Branding 101

Take a minute and mentally walk the grounds of your school with me. I bet you can spot a lost freshman a mile away.

A little frantic. Trying to look like they know what they're doing, but at the same time buzzing with excitement.

Let's keep walking. Now tell me, can you spot the athletes? The sorority? Computer geeks with the latest cool tech?

How about the MBA's? They're a bit more serious and probably older than the average college freshman. Actually, 28 is the average age for most MBA students applying, so they stand apart from the 18 and 19 year-olds.

So why are the college giveaways you'd choose for a college freshman different than an MBA student? And what about giveaways sensitive to the current pandemic?

If your school offers an MBA program, you probably know that if you're not one of the top 25 schools in America, then it's likely you've seen a significant drop in the number of applicants. If you're in the lower 50, you may be like some of your competitors who are reporting a double-digit plunge in the number of applications.

So the simple answer is competition.

If you're competing to get not just a higher percentage of qualified applicants, but you're also looking for above average applicants, your branding campaign has to be able to attract that type of student.

And let's face it, handing an MBA applicant a standard branded pen, isn't going to impress them. (If you have the budget for the astronaut pen, well, that will impress!)

Your branding campaign has to be up to the level of the students you want to attract.

Florida Tech said it best while explaining one of the reasons students should consider their Marketing MBA program.

"Claim your place in a dynamic, rapidly growing field."

Your promotional giveaways for college students are your school's way of claiming a place in the field of applicants.

What does your university swag say about the quality of your program?

It's true, what you use to attract an excited freshman is totally different than what you use for a serious MBA applicant. And in 2022, what you select needs to put a focus on health and safety.

Top 15 List of Swag Ideas for Colleges and Universities

Keeping your target in mind, let's take a look at college giveaways for students at all of your functions. Sure, it may be freshman orientation this month, or an MBA program debut, but there are still college recruitment fairs and virtual events that you need to consider.

By knowing who you're trying to recruit, you can make choices that are a more efficient use of your budget for other events, too.

So here are some ideas that work when you need to stay on their mind, make a big impression or simply address care and concern for keeping students safe and protected.

#1. Custom Totes or Backpacks

Bags stay visible to everyone, giving you a prime branding opportunity. They are also one of the most useful items because they easily carry all the other items being handed out...especially great when recruitment fairs return.

A word of caution: This is no place to go low quality. Remember, your logo is all over your products, and low quality is NOT the message you want to send. 

Want to know which ones our clients are ordering?  

Looking for useful, practical swag? This packable backpack should be on your list!

custom backpack - red


These custom backpacks come in lots of colors and have an earbud port for use with corded earbuds or earphones

custom backpack with earbud port


#2. Data Blocking USB Charging Adapter

We recently did a post about the security issues of charging your phones and tech gadgets at public charging stations, based on the findings of a recent Blackhat Convention.

Hand out SECURITY by choosing the Data Blocking USB Charging Adapter that blocks data transfer from public charging stations. (This one comes with a description sheet - most do not!) 

And new this year is the USB Data Blocker Keychain. It's a must check out because it has 3 connector cables to cover most phones/laptops!

#3 Custom Cell Phone Wallets

When you're headed out of the dorm, and all you need is your phone, your ID and a bit of cash, this is the perfect organizer. Our summer intern shares that Cell phone wallets are coveted by the college crowd.

This promotional phone wallet with a built in stand attaches securely to the back of your phone but comes off cleanly when you're ready to remove. It's a highly brandable accessory that won't demagnetize cards.  INSIDER TIP: Need social proof? Google sold it in their swag store. 

promotional phone wallets

Students love swag that does double duty. This custom phone wallet has a clever built in screen cleaner. 

custom phone wallet with cleaner


#4 Bluetooth Portable Speakers

Bluetooth speakers are music to a marketers ears!
These portable speakers come in all shapes and sizes and are easily branded.
Best of all, everyone loves them!  This Clip-On Bluetooth Speaker is perfect college swag for on-the-go students. 


#5 Promotional Earbuds

Promotional ear buds are another choice swag idea for college kids. Earbuds with cases, organizers and wraps give you plenty of selections to add color and a logo. Always good to have an extra pair around! 

Students love the convenience of these promotional earbuds. A full color, branded case makes your logo pop. The convenience of the case will be a big draw for students.

These clip on earbuds are flying out the door and landing right on student's backpacks. The carabiner clip keeps them handy for the college crowd! 

These earbuds feature three built in connectors: Apple lightning, Type C and micro usb unlike most earbuds with only the standard audio jack. As iPhone owners know, the audio jack hasn't been on the phones for quite a while. You need a dongle to use with the audio jack. These logo earbuds solve that problem!

#6 Customized Selfie Lights


There are lots of customized selfie lights around. Here's why this one is so popular: it clips on a laptop or phone. Many only work on phones. 

custom selfie lights

Don't miss out having your college/university/school brand on these extremely popular school giveaways!



#7 Promotional Tumblers & Bottles

Water bottles, tumblers and mugs have long been school swag staples. But quality is what turns heads and makes your giveaway the one that gets used. 

If your budget allows, go with a custom insulated bottle to showcase your school colors. It is the perfect companion for walks across campus, bike rides or even camping trips!  

custom insulated bottle


This Insulated Bottle with a One Touch Open Lid has a fabulous branding area to showcase your schools' colors. Plus, a one touch open lid means students can toss it in their backpacks without fear of spilling or having to make sure they don't leave a lid laying somewhere! 

One of the current trends we're seeing is COLOR! And what better way to catch a student's eye than with these custom silicone cups

These on trend reusable water bottles offer great colors and are popular across the USA with the 'reuse' or eco crowd. 

#8 Custom Cases for the Apple AirTag


The Apple AirTag case custom printed with your school logo definitely ranks high for cool college swag! At this price point, include with a welcome package or use as part of a recruiting initiative. 

custom apple airtag case


#9 Promo Phone Holder + Cleaner

This desk top phone holder is perfect for dorm life or working from a personal desk at home. Even better? It's also a great screen cleaner - laptops, tablets or phones! 

customized phone holders


#10 Customized Tech Gear Organizer

No more tangled cords in the bottom of the bag. No more knots in your earbuds. And no more chocolate covered USB's. This tech gear organizer will keep students on top of their game. 

Keep them organized and focused. 

Another giveaway in the category is the Zip Up Tech Organizer which is a great way to handle a tech stash. Cords, USB's, power banks and more, all in a case small enough to tuck in a backpack.


#11 Promotional Reusable Straws

Being kind to our environment is a theme that's here to stay.

This budget friendly custom reusable straw set is perfect for the students roaming campus or sipping a beverage at home. 

Other metal straw styles:

Metal Straw with Cleaning Brush

Metal Straw Set in Cotton Pouch


#12 Branded Notebooks or Journals 

We know, taking notes on the laptop is going to rule but there's still that occasion when it pays to take notes on 'real' paper. There's a lot of research to back that up, too!

Suggestions: recycled paper notebook 


Over the Edge Journal 


custom journal notebooks

And we've got to add this note taker to the mix. It has a clever super power. Check it out! Custom Journal and Pen Set


#13 Custom Chargers

College kids want and need to stay connected. This custom charging kit has the coveted Apple lightning connector and the latest Type C connector. (The Samsung S9 users and iPad Pro users will be thrilled!) 

Wireless charger combined with recycled material? This will appeal to the college crowd. There's also an included bag to recycled old tech. (Note: there is not a battery in this charger, so will only work with phones that are Qi enabled) 

This custom charger combines wireless and battery charging, so no worries about type of phone. It's also made from sustainable bamboo and engraved, no ink used for the perfect eco friendly tech giveaway! 

Check out our Branded Power Bank Ultimate Buying Guide for more tips and recommendations.


#14 Promotional Popsockets 

Custom PopSockets continue to be a coveted college swag giveaway. 


If you have the budget, the Aluminum PopSockets are a definite step up from the plastic variety. And there's that aluminum eco friendliness: no ink is used as these are laser engraved.

engraved aluminum popsocket




#15 Printed Face Masks

Safety and protection are the new campus must haves in 2021. Providing branded face masks to students shows your school's concern for their well being. 

The PROMOrx team knows there are so many mask choices. How do you decide which custom face masks to purchase? 

We suggest this branded face mask if you are looking for 1. no limit on branding colors 2. good coverage/custom fit 3. built in ear saver 4. packaged in cool reusable pouch 

Here are two others to consider:



How to Brand the Items You Choose

This is the fun part! Give PROMOrx a call. We can go over all of the options you have for each giveaway needed for on campus or on-line students.

We'll help you pair items for a really powerful gift presentation to attract the stars of your next MBA program as well as getting your freshman on the right track.

And we'll keep you from making costly mistakes that send the wrong message.

We're a phone call away, so let's get started!



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