The Top 10 Graduation Gifts of 2015

By Hayley Irvin

Graduation is a time to celebrate both our past accomplishments and the potential of the future. For many graduates, eight weeks is all that separates them from the end of high school and beginning of college. Help your graduate to prepare for the future by gifting them something that will useful now and in the future. Here are the top ten graduation gifts of 2015:

Wondering what gifts to get your high school graduate?

Wondering what gifts to get your graduate? (Photo courtesy of Emily Orpin via Flickr)

1.  Gift certificates for dorm essentials

Prior to move-in day, many universities send a list of “suggested items” for students who will be living in the dormitory, such as storage containers, twin XL sheets, silverware, cups, plates, etc. This list is extensive, may or may not provide dimensions, and many of the items may be unnecessary. Your freshman friend won’t truly what they do and do not need until they move in. Instead of wasting money on something that may not be useful in a few months or may not fit in their dorm, give your graduate friend a gift card for a store that sells these items, such as Target, Wal-Mart, or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. This allows your freshman friend to get exactly what he or she needs without wasting money.

2.  College-themed items

If your grad friend has chosen a college to attend in the fall, college-themed items are great ways to get your friend in the school spirit early. Hats, shirts, hoodies, reusable water bottles, and coffee mugs are popular options. Try to get something that your grad friend can use, as opposed to something strictly decorative. College-themed clothing will also give your freshman something to wear on game days and to wear on game days and to other school-sponsored events. An out of the box idea and motivational gift to serve as a reminder of the greater goal, could be a diploma frame for either the high school diploma or with the name of the attended university. The empty frame can be a great motivator for any student to obtain the diploma that will showcase their future!

3.  A mattress cover

A good night’s rest is an essential element of an active and attentive brain throughout the day, but unfortunately for many college students, dorm beds are notoriously uncomfortable. We’ve all experienced the short-term consequences of inadequate sleep – drowsiness, difficulty paying attention, and just a general feeling of being out of it. Over long periods of time, poor sleep can lead to memory loss, weight gain, depression, increased stress levels, and heart problems. Give the gift of good sleep – and productive days – by purchasing a mattress pad to make your freshman friend’s bed that much more comfortable. Memory foam, featherbed and microfiber mattress covers are some of the most comfortable kinds available. This simple gift will benefit your freshman friend in many ways they may not even realize.

4.  A single serving coffee maker – with coffee!

All-nighters and 20-hour days are as synonymous with college as blue book exams and football on Saturday. Coffee often fuels all-night cram sessions and paper writing, but repeated trips to the coffee shop can add up, especially for a college student surviving off of two packs of Ramen per day. To help your freshman friend avoid this financial strain, give him or her a single-serving coffee maker and lots of coffee in anticipation of late nights of studying and writing.

5.  A surge protector

College students use more electronics now than ever before. Cell phones, laptops, iPads, TVs, and gaming consoles are part of everyday life for many college students, and all of them needed to be charged regularly. Outlet space is limited in dorm rooms – especially when shared between two people. Surge protectors, especially the kind with built-in USB ports, are great solutions to this common problem. With one of these, your freshman friend will never be in danger of seeing the dreaded “low battery” notification. Just make sure he or she knows not overload it.

6.  Laundry essentials

If you don’t have easy and free access to a washer and dryer, doing laundry can be time-consuming and inconvenient. No one wants to sit at a laundry mat for three hours while washing the six loads of laundry they let pile up for the last month. And you can’t leave, or you risk all of your clothes being stolen. Plus, who even has enough quarters for that many loads of laundry? There’s a reason college kids are known for bringing laundry when they come home for the weekend. It’s the easiest option for some, but for students who live far away from home and are unable to return home frequently on the weekends, it’s not really an option at all. Give your freshman friend the gift of clean, fresh clothes by giving them monogrammed laundry bags, large bottles of detergent and softener, and $50 in quarters.

7.  A basic sewing kit

Losing a button isn’t a big deal – if you can sew it back on. If not, you’re faced the dilemma of not wearing the shirt or pants, or buying an entirely new item to replace it. Either way, it’s a waste of money, and all because of a missing button. For college students who do not have a lot of money, being able to reattach a button is a handy skill that saves shirts, pants, and money. All you need is a needle a thread. It may even spark an interest in a new hobby.

8.  Transportation

We all need a way to get from point A to point B and everywhere else. Cars are expensive investments, especially when insurance, maintenance fees, and gas prices are taken into account. For those who live in cities with bicycle routes and extensive public transportation systems, cars are often unnecessary. If your freshman friend has a car, gas cards are always great gifts. If not, a bicycle is a great alternative that will also help him or her avoid the freshman fifteen. If he or she has decided to use the bus or subway, a bus pass or a metro card will also be helpful. This will help them not only get to class on time, but also give them the freedom of mobility in their social and professional lives as well.

9.  Help paying for books

Next to tuition and housing, books are one of the biggest expenses of college. Math and science books are particularly expensive, often costing hundreds of dollars for single book that will only be used for one semester. University book stores are notoriously overpriced, but there are alternative routes. Companies like Chegg rent textbooks at a reduced cost, and Amazon offers a six-month free trial of Amazon Prime to all college students. A gift certificate or a book voucher for the university book store would help your freshman friend out in a major way. If he or she uses a rental service or Amazon prime, gift cards to those services would also help supplement the cost of textbooks. College textbooks as a graduation gift may sound kind of lame, but your freshman friend will thank you come fall.

Editor’s Note: You can also help your college student excel academically with my book, The Secrets of Top Students.

10.  Experiences

So far, many of the gifts on this list have been anticipatory items, preparing for the future – but it’s also important to enjoy the present. The summer in between the end of high school and the beginning of college is the twilight of adolescence. It should be a time to relax, save a bit of money, and enjoy time with friends before everyone goes their separate ways. Experiences are what matter in life – not things. Give the gift of experience by sending your grad friend on summer trip with some friends. Travel can be expensive, so if you can’t foot the bill for the entire trip, pitch in for gas, airfare, or lodging expenses. Your grad friend will remember it for the rest of his or her life. Even if your grad friend isn’t going to school in the fall, many of the items on this list are great gifts for any young person moving away from home and taking their first steps into the real world. This can be a rough transition, especially if you’ve never had to do your own laundry or pay for your own gas. Make this transition easier on your grad friend or relative, by getting him or her a gift that will be useful now and in the future.

BIO: Hayley Irvin is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. When she’s not creating awesome content for Marketing Zen or USA Diploma Frames, she’s watching basketball, reading about space, and writing science fiction. Catch up with her on Twitter @HayleyNIrvin.

Here’s another great gift idea.  Give that special student in your life the gift of great grades with The Secrets of Top Students!


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