Need something extra to throw in your college student’s care package? These inspirational books will help them feel right at home on their new campus.

By Samantha Zabell
Updated June 16, 2020
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Books for college freshmen should be inspirational, educational, and entertaining—and don’t books make the best high school graduation gifts, anyway? If your new college student is struggling to find their way on their own, searching for a new direction, or simply in need of a break from school stresses, give them one of these top books for college freshmen to help them on their way. (Books are also one of the best care package ideas.)

College is a time of growth, learning, and self-discovery, but it’s also a challenging time, especially for students who stepped outside their comfort zones to go to a school in a new place or with a new community. Help them out however you can, whether they’re already at school or getting ready to leave in the fall, with these books for college freshmen.


Is your freshman overwhelmed at the prospect of choosing (and sticking with) a college major? This book is full of advice on finding your “true calling,” and will inspire students to take that one class—Painting! Music! Fiction Writing!—that will be creatively fulfilling.

To buy: $10;


So many college students will complain that they were underprepared for financial obligations after graduation—so give your freshman a leg up on his or her friends with this easy-to-understand financial guide to budgeting, debt, credit cards, taxes, and more.

To buy: $12;


It might seem like the “real world” is still eons away, but it'll sneak up faster than they'd expect. This funny, lighthearted handbook to adulthood was based off of Brown’s popular blog, Adulting, and will make grown-up life seem much less scary.

To buy: $9;


When exams roll around, every freshman will need something to help relax and de-stress. Enter this beautiful, adult coloring book. Send it in a care package with a set of colored pencils, and your student can sit in bed for hours in a post-midterms trance.

To buy: $10;


A fictional story about four unlikely friends as they travel through their four years at Smith College, this novel will give college freshmen something to look forward to. It follows them from day one on campus all the way through one of the girls’ weddings. It’s the perfect read for when she is taking a much-needed break from her studies.

To buy: $11;


This collection of stories takes networking to a new level—when Megan Gebhart graduated college, she didn’t opt for the traditional career path, and instead decided to have a cup of coffee with someone new every single week. For any college student intimidated by the prospect of meeting new people, this is the perfect inspiration.

To buy: $12;


They’ve already been told about the places they’ll go, but this pocket-sized book is filled with even more wisdom from their favorite childhood author. On nights when they’re feeling particularly homesick, they can take comfort from familiar characters—like Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, and even the Grinch.

To buy: $9;


Career expert Lindsey Pollak offers a 90-step plan to a successful undergraduate experience and post-graduate career. From making over a resume, to creating a base for success on campus, Pollak offers easy strategies and solutions that every young student needs to know.

To buy: $11;


Every college student wants to be able to eat good food for less money—which is exactly the aim of this cookbook.

To buy: $10;

Barnes and Noble


From salary negotiations to apartment decorating, the real world is filled with a lot of new experiences. With this book, your student can tackle (and prepare for) any hurdle that’ll come up in the home or the office, with timeless-yet-practical advice from the editors of Real Simple. After reading a few pages, you might want this on your shelf, too.

To buy: $17;