College Graduation Gifts

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In life, there are milestones and then there are milestones.  College graduation is kind of a big one.  In theory, this is a serious coming of age and for a lot of people marks the beginning of real adulthood.  It might mean financial independence, and a lifestyle that no longer revolves around partying (or it might not).  College graduation gifts can be a great way to commemorate this big achievement while also setting the graduate up for success in adulthood.


Where are they going and what will they need?

college graduation gifts: beach tent

Unless they are staying on in the same place to go to grad school, chances are that graduation will mark a major life transition.  One funny thing about moving in life is that you realize just how many things you have accumulated.  Often times the objects that you considered essential at one home simply collect dust in the closet when you move to the next.  This is even more true when someone moves on from college.  All of a sudden, the collection of shot glasses that were proudly displayed and used day in and day out, simply sit in a cabinet unused five or six days a week.

Then there is the fact that the graduate might be going to a completely new part of the country with an entirely different setting.  Are they going from an idyllic life in a rural university setting to an apartment in a big city?  Perhaps a subway pass is in order.  Are they going from a warm weather climate to somewhere cooler?  They might appreciate a fashionable pair of gloves for the winter months.  From a college set near the woods to a beach town?  A new beach tent is just what the doctor ordered.

New digs

college graduation gifts: coffee table
college graduation gifts: bed

They are moving out of the dorm or the apartment that they share with a few college friends, and into an apartment (that they may or may not share with a few room mates).  So, why not get them a few things to make this new place feel like home.  A potted plant would be a nice addition.  Or perhaps some new furniture.  In the years that follow college, they will still have plenty of time for the occasional bull session.  So, why not help them do it in comfort with a leather sofa or a solid wooden coffee table.  Both of these can make excellent college graduation gifts.

For all of the achievement that a college degree represents, you might be surprised by the things that your new graduate will overlook.  For example, they might deem it perfectly reasonable to spend nights sleeping on a futon.  Do them a favor, and set them up with a new bed instead so they can spend the evenings a bit more comfortably.  In a similar vain, you might give them a few pots and pans.  It’s not that they will become a Michelin star chef overnight but it would be good if they could muster the occasional grilled cheese sandwich.

Entering the workforce for real this time

They might have had a few jobs or internships in the past, but now they are ready to begin working full time.  If things go well, you might find yourself receiving fewer and fewer requests for spending cash.  So, help set them up for success.  Depending on the customary work attire at their new employer, this might mean a sport coat, suit, necktie, pantsuit or skirt.  Of course, if they are going into the tech industry, a T-shirt and jeans might be fully acceptable.  If they are upgrading their wardrobe though, accessories like belts and handbags are sure to be welcomed so they don’t end up wearing the same things every day.  You might also get them a professional looking messenger bag that can be used for lugging around a laptop and taking in to meetings.

College graduation gifts geared toward living the adult lifestyle

college graduation gifts: golf clubs

College graduation may mark the beginning of the end of youthful pursuits.  To be sure, these days the transition to full on adulthood has been pushed back a few years and may not be complete until one’s early thirties or even many years later.  Having said that, this is a great time to help them embrace some habits that will serve them well in adulthood.  That might mean giving a gym membership or some work out gear.  Or, perhaps the time has come where they are ready to learn to play golf, tennis, or some other sport.  These types of activities can be great for meeting new people and staying in shape which will be critical in the years ahead.  Lessons or equipment can be a nice push in the right direction.

While the young graduate is embarking on a new and exciting phase of life, there is no shortage of things that they will need. For this reason, there are many, many good college graduation gifts.  We hope the list above helps, and wish the new graduate all the best in their future endeavors.

By the way, if you’re interested, here is our list of graduation gift ideas for your sister as well as our guide on college graduation gift etiquette.