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Gift Ideas for Students Going Away to College for the First Time

Updated on May 2, 2013
BOOKS by Twmedia  Open book on the white background
BOOKS by Twmedia Open book on the white background | Source

Gift Ideas to Help Ease the Transition between Home and University or College

Every year young people leave school and go off to college. For many young people it is their first taste of adult life, and living independently from their parents and away from home comforts. It is an important, exciting and apprehensive time. The young person will have to deal with tasks, problems and circumstances that they have never had to cope with before. There is every chance that amongst your family and friends there is a student going away to college for the first time. When making a gift to mark this special time, you will want to help the student make this important, but sometimes difficult, transition from child to adult, and there are many gift ideas to achieve this aim.

Many people think that money is a good idea, however, young people, unused to freedom or budgeting for themselves, may blow their money in the first few weeks at the many social occasions during “Fresher’s week(s). A much better idea is gift vouchers or tokens for various places. A supermarket gift voucher, or several grocery gift vouchers for small amounts of money, may encourage your student to stock up the food cupboard and feed him or herself properly. Do ensure that that the supermarket, for which you buy your gift voucher (s), has a branch near to the college, university, or other learning institution, to which your student is heading.

College and university students usually provide their own textbooks. These can be very expensive, especially for subjects such as law and science, which constantly changes, where students need the latest textbooks. For example, a law textbook can cost more than fifty pounds sterling, or nearly eighty dollars, for a paperback copy, and students may need five or six textbooks each semester or term. Book tokens or vouchers may help your student buy the textbooks they need without worry. Even a book token or voucher for a small amount helps make textbook costs a little less frightening, and there is every chance that others will give book tokens too and your student can add them all together. Buy the type of book tokens that the student can use in most bookshops, rather than for a specific store or chain. Students can get discount in some shops by showing their union or guild card and thus make your gift go further.

Gift tokens, cards, or vouchers to the student’s local pizza, fast food, coffee bar or similar place would help your student. Student often do not have spare money for such things and these gift tokens can provide a reward for hard study, panacea for homesickness, an encouragement to go out and meet people, or just a treat to brighten the week. A little internet research will help you find popular student establishments close to your student’s college or university.

Other gift token ideas include travel vouchers for train, long distance coach, or other travel. These mean that your student can always get home in an emergency. Another travel idea is a student travel card, or your country’s equivalent, these give students free or discounted travel.

Students going to college for the first time may live in university halls of residence (dorm rooms) or in rented accommodation, flats or houses. Students living in ‘halls’ may not have access to kitchen facilities or only limited kitchen facilities, but many colleges and universities allow students approved appliances in their rooms, such as electric kettles or coffee makers. A small electric kettle makes a great student gift. You could accompany the gift with teabags, coffee bags or sachets, and instant hot chocolate sachets, providing a welcome break during hard study sessions. You could also add pot noodles, instant porridge, instant soup or other foods that one reconstitutes with hot water.

If your student is going to live in rented accommodation, he or she will have to cook for him or herself, or starve. There are many good student cookbooks in the bookshops and on line now. There are recommendations for the best British and American student cookbooks, do check reader reviews on a major book selling internet sites to check that a particular book will you’re your particular student and their cooking ability.

A home made cookery book is a very special gift for a student heading towards university. Food is a great part of memories and connects families. A home made cookery book fulfills both practical and emotional purposes for a student going away to college or university. Use a three-ring folder, or binder, and print out family recipes. Do remember to include simple economical recipes, and family favourites also include special family recipes connected to family members, for example, Auntie Pat’s special chocolate gateau may be too difficult for the student now but he or she will remember family occasions when Auntie Pat made the cake and the recipe is there should the student wish to recreate it. Include the student’s favourite childhood recipes too adding family anecdotes about occasions when the dish was served. Look on line for basic, cheap, tasty recipes for pasta, noodle, rice, and pizza meals and for healthy snacks. Add shopping, and food hygiene tips and some links to good websites for student cooks. This type of cookbook is a comforting piece of home and family and a practical gift. The whole family could contribute to this gift.

Another practical and useful gift that need not cost a great deal could be a gift basket. Think about students’ lives and make your basket accordingly. Your ‘basket’ could be a bucket filled with cleaning supplies, or a plastic bowl filled with laundry supplies and change for the launderette, a box filled with first aid supplies, cold medicine, bandages, et cetera. Such things may not be hip, but he or she will thank you every time he or she reaches for the useful items in your basket or box.

Whilst leaving home for college or university is exciting for young people, it can also be a little daunting and scary. Young people will be dealing with tasks and circumstances that they have not dealt with before. Students will appreciate gifts that help them to make this difficult tradition from child to independent adult.


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  • Mercia Collins profile image

    Mercia Collins 5 years ago from United Kingdom

    Thank-you for your comment medcaribbeanskul and your compliment. I am glad that you enjoyed my hub.

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    medcaribbeanskul 5 years ago

    My sister calls her gift the "care package" because it is prepared with love and given with wishes her children will be in the best of health. Thank you for sharing your great hub. It is worth voting all the way up.