Gift Registry for College Students: What You Need to Know

If you know someone who just graduated high school, then you might be wondering if that person has signed up for a gift registry for college students. Yes, college dorm registries are a thing, and they can be very helpful when buying gifts.

We set our daughter Annie up with a Target college registry after her senior year of high school. There were a couple of benefits to it.

One, it was a great way for us to keep her shopping organized. Two, it helped friends and family members who wanted to buy helpful gifts for graduation.

Three, it limited where we had to make returns, if any. Four, it helped Annie avoid getting items that might have been banned in her dorm (more about that later). Five, it gave Annie a shopping discount (more about that, too, in a bit).

college dorm rooms

What is a gift registry for college students

Just like a wedding gift registry, a college registry allows college students to registry for gifts that they’d like for their dorm. I mean, technically they could register for any kind of gift item. However, most families use a gift registry as a college dorm registry.

I’ve identified five companies with gift registries for college students that I think you’ll want to check out. But, before getting to them, let me explain how college gift registries work and what you should register for, if you will.

What should you put on a college gift registry?

Here’s how I recommend you handle a registry for college students. Get the list of recommended items from your child’s college or university. Then, use that as your guide for what you add to the dorm registry. You can include practical items as well as fun things.

For example, nearly every college and university that I know of has twin extra long beds. Therefore, you need to buy twin extra long or twin XL sheets for those beds. You’re sure to see this on the college’s list of recommended items to bring to campus.

However, I would pay close attention to other items on that list–whether they be recommended or prohibited. 

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Here is my article on college dorm must haves.

Electrical items on a gift registry for college students

For instance when my older Jane was shopping for her college dorm, we learned that certain kinds of power strips or surge protectors were not allowed in her dorm. Her school would allow power strip surge protectors with a head that plugged in flush to the wall only. No other kind was allowed. Also, no extension cords.

With Annie’s college, certain small electrical items were OK to bring. So, we happily added a Keurig coffee machine to her gift registry. However, even though she would have loved to have brought a mini microwave oven for midnight popcorn popping, it wasn’t allowed.

Again, having a college dorm registry to highlight approved items can help with gift buying. It can’t 100 percent prevent people from purchasing something not on the registry that the college doesn’t want students to bring. However, it can help guide people to approved items.

How do I create a college registry?

The best way to create a registry is to find a store that lets college students registry for gifts. I know of two brick-and-mortar retailers with well-known gift registries that include college students. These stores also have online components to make gift shopping easier.

In addition, there are three online companies and retailers that will also let college students create a gift registry. At least one has something called a universal gift registry.

What is a universal gift registry

Here’s what a university gift registry means. You can register at multiple stores through the one site. This makes it easier for you to share shopping information with friends and family members who might want to buy you a gift.

Refer to your school’s dorm shopping list

Once you’ve identified where you want to make your gift registry for going away to college, you can use the dorm shopping list from your school to add items to your registry. Then, once complete, you’ll likely get a unique link to your registry page to share with well wishers.

Another benefit to creating this college dorm registry is it gives people an option for finding gift ideas beyond the start of the school year. That is, when the student’s birthday comes up or the December gift holidays, you’ll have a ready-made resource for purchasing presents for them.

Where can I create a college dorm registry

Like I said I’ve identified retailers that offer gift registries for college students. They are:

  1. Target
  4. Amazon

I’ve done a brief overview of each store’s registry program so you can decide which one works the best for a college student in your life. 

Target gift registry for college students

Like I mentioned above, we created a college dorm registry at Target for my daughter Annie. In fact, I wrote about our experience in this blog post review of the Target college dorm registry.

Some of the reasons we chose Target

Here are some reasons why we decided to shop at Target. One, we knew Annie would need twin XL sheets for her dorm. Having shopped for her sister’s dorm two years earlier, we discovered that Target has one of the best selections of twin XL or extra long bed sheets.

Check out the jersey knit ones if you’re in the market. They feel like your favorite t-shirt.

Convenient shopping at Target

Two, Target stores are everywhere. So, registering and shopping at Target is always easy and convenient.

Three, there’s always the option for shopping online at It was our last resort when we realized we’d forgotten pillows to pack for her older sister to go to college. We ordered them online and then picked them up in store a few hours later.

Fourth, you earn points and discounts. The Target app has a reward program that gives you money off purchases. And, when you register at Target, you get a Target college registry discount promo code to spend on anything that remains on your registry.

College school supplies at Target

Another reason I like the idea of a Target college registry is simple. Not only can you buy supplies for a dorm but also you can find everything you need for college school supplies.

That means you can add everything from spiral notebooks to book bags to your registry. How convenient is that?

Target college gift registry favorites

Here are some of our favorite items and most recommended gift ideas from Target for a college dorm registry.

Click here to learn more about setting up a Target gift registry for college students.

This article outlines all stores with a price match policy.

MyRegistry gift registry for college students

I recently learned about MyRegistry. Then, I added it to my blog post about wedding registries with the best perks for brides and grooms. Now I’ve discovered that MyRegistry includes the option for college students. 

This option is to create a bona fide gift registry or just a gift wish list. What’s the difference? Nothing really. Because either way you’re identifying items that your college student would like to receive before heading back to campus.

Universal gift registry

Rather than registering at just one store for gifts, MyRegistry offers college students (and everyone else) something called a universal gift registry. This means that you can add items from stores worldwide to your registry. Then, MyRegistry organizes them all in one place for easy shopping for gift givers.

You can visit the MyRegistry page here for a list of participating stores.

The company says it is always adding new ones, from major retailers like Target to small boutiques with a single location. 

In visiting that store location page on, I saw retailers ranging from A to Z, literally. MyRegistry includes retailers ranging from Ace Hardware and the Apple Store (yes, the Apple Store) to Zappos and Zazzle. It even includes stores in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

MyRegistry college gift registry favorites

Here are some of our favorite items and most recommended gift ideas from MyRegistry for a college dorm registry.

Click here to learn more about setting up a MyRegistry gift registry for college students.

DormCo gift registry for college students

The products you’ll find on the DormCo site–and therefore can add to your gift registry–are wide ranging. There are items you can expect for college students, such as the often-mentioned twin extra long bed sheets. But you’ll also find unexpected items, such as something called the bed post shelf.

I mention the bed post shelf, because it’s what the DormCo founder created when he was an undergraduate student in Ohio. He saw a need for a dorm product that didn’t exist–a shelf to go on your bedside when you didn’t have room for a table–and launched DormCo a few years later. (By the way, that bed post shelf is now available at big retailers like Amazon.)

Anyway, at DormCo you can register for dorm room decor that you might not find on other websites or other college gift registries. So, if you’re looking for unique items to furnish your dorm room, I would recommend setting up a gift registry on DormCo.

DormCo college gift registry

Here is one example of the unique items you can register for through the DormCo college dorm registry.

Click here to learn more about setting up a DormCo gift registry for college students.

Amazon gift registry for college students

When setting up an Amazon gift registry for college students, you’re actually creating a custom gift wish list on Amazon. Only wedding registries and baby registries on Amazon are legit registries. For any other occasion, Amazon calls it a gift list.

You can add any item you find on Amazon to your custom gift wish list. Once your list is created you can share with family and friends. 

Starting your Amazon college gift wish list

Not sure where to get started on your Amazon college gift wish list? Then, check out this page called “Off to College.” It includes all of the shopping categories a college student will want to hit up, from bedding to electronics.

In addition, don’t forget to sign your college student up for Amazon Prime Student. You can try Amazon Prime Student for free for six months.

Each of my daughters relied on Prime Student during their four years at college. It saved them money on everything from school books to snacks.

Finally, like with Target, you can add college school supplies to the Amazon gift registry list. Then, you can have everything shipped to your student’s college mailbox.

Here is my blog post on ways for college students to save money.

Amazon college gift registry wish list favorites

Here are some of our favorite items and most recommended gift ideas from Amazon for a college dorm registry.

Click here to learn more about setting up an Amazon gift registry for college students.

Final thoughts on a gift registry for college students

I know that for some people, registering for gifts feels like begging for presents. That’s understandable.

So, if you’re not comfortable creating a college dorm registry officially, at least have a gift wish list ready. That way if people reach out and ask what your child needs for college, you’ll have legit ideas to share with people.