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Finding the Perfect Gift for Your College Graduate

May 15, 2009
by Lindsey Chapman
For eager college students everywhere, years of hard work are finally culminating in the moment they’ve been thinking about for quite some time: graduation. But what gift can you get your graduate that they’ll really need and use?

It’s a High-Tech World

Times are changing, and Higher Education Weblog says the traditional gifts of the past, like a pen, paper weight, money clip or fountain pen might not cut it anymore.

What does your grad want then? Last year, a national poll of “soon-to-be grads” by eGrad found that many were interested in gifts like a trip to Europe, a new laptop, six months of student loan repayment or a new digital camera.

Have Degree, Will Work

Finding employment can be tough regardless of the economic situation, but in today’s economy, every little advantage in looking for a job helps. Help your loved one through their post-graduation job search by giving men a new tie, or surprising women with a necklace or bracelet to spruce up an outfit.

Another way to add to a young adult’s air of confidence is giving them a briefcase or portfolio case. After all, College Media Network explains, “Everybody has baggage, and young professionals are no different.”

Health and Home

Health insurance is important to have, and some graduates will lose their coverage when their college education is complete, writes the Richmond Times-Dispatch. A year’s worth of health insurance could be a welcome relief if the grad is starting at a job with few benefits.

When you’re living in a place with six roommates, furnishing a home isn’t much of a strain on one person. But for a young adult looking to set up their own house for the first time, many basics may be required. Consider purchasing a practical item, like a coffee maker, North County News suggests. But don’t be afraid to find something a little more fun, such as a painting or plant that will make their new surroundings feel more inviting.

Life can’t be all work, either. North County News also proposed ideas such as paying for dance lessons, yoga class or a gourmet cooking course. Consider the activities the graduate enjoys before purchasing a gift of this sort.

Personal and Simple Works, Too

Sometimes all a graduate needs is a personal acknowledgement that you know how far they’ve come and have confidence in where they’re going.

For a person from a small town, Melissa Harris-Lacewell of The Kitchen Table blog suggests seeing whether a local newspaper would be interested in running a human interest story about the individual. If your hometown is too large for such a thing, a cheerful mention of a student’s accomplishments on your Facebook page or in your blog can be special as well.

Many people also select inspirational children’s books for a graduate. “Oh! The Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss, is a popular choice, and Harris-Lacewell also recommended “The Big Box” by Toni Morrison, a story “reminding young people to resist conformity and make their own way.”

Points to Remember

As with any gift, there’s no need to wipe out your wallet choosing a graduation present. “Don’t try to out-give,” Jana Christian, the Etiquette School of Oklahoma’s president and founder, advised Tulsa World.

Money and gift cards allow a person to get exactly what they want. Depending on your relationship to the graduate, sentimental gifts, including a photo album or handmade quilt can also be meaningful—and don’t necessarily come with a hefty price tag.

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