Campus Life

It's Graduation Gift Time!

Another school year ends and yet another flock of high school seniors heads out into the world. This is a major milestone, although many seniors view it merely as a transition to college, the military, or a job.

In coming decades, though, most grads will look back and recall fondly those days of math, science, dances, football games, and maybe a broken heart (hopefully not the latter). For parents, however, it's a bittersweet time. That cute little girl or boy they saw off to their first day of school a dozen years or so ago has become an adult, with preferences, attitudes, and goals of his or her own. Moms and Dads know that it's time to let go, at least a little.

So, as we're about to enter the month of May, graduation looms. With it, comes a time of decision about how to mark the occasion with a memorable gift. For parents, there are two ways to look at gifts for grads: (1) from a parental perspective or (2) from the grad's point of view.

Gifts bestowed from a parental perspective tend to be those that are fully appreciated but used hardly enough. On the other hand, parents who try to see things from their graduate's perspective can almost always come up with a great, practical gift that will be used often, one that will stir fond memories of Mom and Dad whenever it is called into frequent action.

As I did research for this post, I found a ton of links to all kinds of sources touting gifts for grads. They ranged from simple to extravagant, modestly priced to almost requiring a second mortgage. So, in the interest of across-the-board fairness, I thought I would present a grab bag of selections from among these lists.

Thus, if you're still scratching your head about what to get your grad, perhaps you'll find something among this group:

- How about a bicycle?

Biking on a college campus is a great way for students to be outdoors, exercise, and get to class quickly. And for a freshman without a car, owning a bike can be crucial for off-campus trips to grocery stores and parks.

- Noise-Cancelling Headphones

If your grad already has a computer, look for quality headphones. They're ideal for jamming on the way to work or class and while studying in loud dorms.

- The All-American favorite: Cash

Those pursuing work after high school may need cash for gas, rent and a business wardrobe. College-bound kids can always use cash, too, for textbooks, class fees and pizza.

- A colorful carry-all

With countless books, a laptop, and who knows what else, your grad will need something to tote it all in ... messenger bags are slimmer and great for laptops, and look fantastic while riding that bike.

- Dorm essentials

A new dorm means a new start. Help your grad get off on the right foot with everything they need to make their dorm room home ... [this set] doesn't forget a thing, and packages it all in a convenient, 44-piece set that includes laundry supplies, toiletries, a shower caddy, blankets and bedding (all in size twin-XL, of course), and more.

- If they don't already have one -- A Netflix Account

As much as we'd all like to hope that college students are busy studying, the reality is that they can often be found relaxing instead. A monthly subscription will give your grad access to hundreds of TV series, movies and documentaries, which will allow for some vegging time between stressful college courses.

- For a small dorm room: Small Speaker System

This is a great gift for their dorm room, or to put in their backpack for summer excursions. A small speaker system can connect to your phone or computer so you can play your own music for a bigger group.

- And finally, the ubiquitous Amazon gift card

An Amazon gift card is a great gift for new grads. They can use a gift certificate to purchase college textbooks, furnish their first apartment, or buy new clothes for work. Other gift card options to consider are certificates to spend at Sephora, Whole Foods, or Starbucks.


If you would like to explore your gift possibilities in more depth, here's a group of links that will help you do that. My experience as a parent has shown me that seeing possible gifts from your graduate's perspective seems to have the edge over viewing them from your parental point of view.

In any case, congratulations to your graduate. May all his/her gifts be useful!


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles at College Confidential.