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Gift Ideas for New Graduates

Updated on May 31, 2010

It's that time of year again - graduations are plentiful and the parties seem to never end. But those who are attending those parties, as well as the friends and family of the new graduate are often left wondering what to get for the student. Here are some ideas, mainly geared toward high school graduates who are moving on to college.

  • Cash - if you don't know of anything else to give, cash is always a welcome gift. It can be put away in the bank, or used to purchase incredibly expensive books at college.
  • Barnes and Noble Gift Card - Almost every college has a Barnes and Noble nearby, and this gift card would ensure that your money is going towards something the new grad needs for school.
  • Amazon Gift Cards - A lot of college books can be found and purchased online at A gift card there would allow the new grad to make a selection from the assortment of books, or purchase music, or one of the millions of other products the site sells.
  • Gas Cards - Gift cards to a nearby gas station will be helpful over the summer if the graduate has a job that he or she needs to commute to, or if he or she just does a lot of driving.
  • Computer Accessories - If you don't want to go all out and purchase the student a new computer (which I highly discourage because many students want to pick out their own), then buying some accessories such as a docking station, or a laptop bag can help defray the total cost of their purchase later.
  • Digital Camera - If the student doesn't already have one, a digital camera is a great thing to take to college. It will help document memories and may be needed for some courses.
  • Webcam - A webcam can help the student stay in touch with friends and family back home. Besides, there's nothing like watching a live video of your graduate if he or she is too far away to visit often.
  • American Eagle (or Hollister, Abercrombie, etc.) Gift Card - The new college freshman will undoubtedly need to make some shopping trips before going off to college in the Fall. Gift cards to these stores will help send him or her off in fashion.
  • Small Photo Frame - Let's them keep pictures of family and friend with them in the dorm
  • Dorm Room Items - Check with the parents first, but the new grad may need items for the dorm such as plastic shelves, organizers, etc.
  • Calendar - Not a mini one, but a larger wall calendar that can help keep appointments.
  • Magazine Subscription - Have their favorite magazine delivered to their dorm once they find out the address.
  • School Clothing - Get them some shirts or sweatpants with their college's name imprinted on it.
  • Freshman Year Survival Book - Get a good book from Amazon about surviving college so they can read it before hand.
  • Good Quality Water Bottle - This will save them tons over buying plastic bottles on campus.
  • A Mini Fridge - For a larger gift, check to see if the dorm allows mini fridges. Then purchase one with them.
  • Alarm Clock Radio - Keep them on time at college
  • iPod Dock - Let them charge and play their iPod (make sure they have an iPod first!)
There are lots of other items to get for a new grad, but this list contains a lot of the major things to consider. If you're still stuck, either go with cash, or be creative!


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      Netspend 7 years ago

      Yes Prepaid Debit Cards are an amazing gift for college bound students! I keep one for emergencies! Netspend is a popular company, and stores all over carry Visa cards by them. Visit their website to find a store near you.