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College Must Haves: 10 Great Gifts for High School Grads

May 10, 2011 By: Julie Manhan Category: Gifts for college students, What to bring

Even though they’ve sent enrollment deposits to their college choice, the idea of heading off to college in a few months doesn’t quite seem real.  Oh sure, putting on that cap and gown  will help, but it’s those carefully chosen graduation gifts of college essentials that can actually make it real.  So, the pressure’s on.  What gift can you give that will practically scream, “You’re really going to college!”?

Photo by Calvert Cafe & Catering

My Top Ten List of College Must Haves for Graduating Seniors:

  1. Cash – It may not be imaginative, but there is no greater college essential than cash – especially when it comes to paying that tuition bill!
  2. Gift Cards – Many college bookstores also offer gift cards, so this could be a great way to help out with textbooks and class supplies.  Gift cards to stores near campus where your student can get their college essentials may also be a good choice.  Students often appreciate a culinary change of pace, so gift cards to restaurants, grocery stores and fast food places within easy walking distance of campus are bound to be a hit.
  3. College Gear – T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, hats, sweats – as long as these college essentials have the name of their soon-to-be college emblazoned on them, your new grad is going to love wearing  them.
  4. Utensils for Dorm Room Dining – Impromptu gatherings often have a BYOU (Bring Your Own Utensils) requirement.  The well-prepared college student will have 2 of the following: unbreakable plates, bowls, glasses, mugs, and 2 real forks, knives, and spoons.  Trust me, they’ll get a lot of use out of these college must haves.
  5. Laundry Essentials – Everyone can use a cool bag for their laundry.  If the grad won’t be shipping their belongings to campus, be sure to include detergent, dryer sheets, and a roll of quarters.  (For a personal touch, ask mom or dad what brands they use, so your grad will be reminded of home.)
  6. Care Package Subscription – Nothing helps ease homesickness like a package from home.  A sample care package with a certificate for follow-up packages (filled with college essentials like home made cookies) to be sent throughout the year is a very thoughtful and much appreciated gift.
  7. Speakers for MP3 Player – Because sometimes it’s good to be able to share your music with new friends.
  8. E-Book Reader (i.e. Kindle, Nook) – More and more textbooks can be downloaded to these new college essentials.  It’s not only better for the environment, it’s also a lot lighter than carrying around every textbook a student needs in a backpack
  9. Compact Video Camera (i.e. Flip) – Class presentations these days are all about multimedia.  Students who have the tools to do them easily are always at an advantage.
  10. College Essentials Gift “Basket” – Gather some things they can really use like: washcloths, flip flops for the shower, hot chocolate, Cup-a-Soup, microwave popcorn, healthy dorm room snacks, tea, gummy vitamins, a thermometer, a reusable ice pack, adhesive tape, a flashlight, batteries, ear plugs and anything else that occurs to you, and put them in a useful container.  For example, you could roll everything up in a nice fluffy towel or load them into a new backpack or plastic storage crate.  Don’t hesitate to be creative.

One last thing, before you pick up any these college essentials for your  soon-to-be graduate, be sure to do a little research  to  make sure your gift is something they can actually use. (i.e. How far will they have to travel to use that particular gift card?, Are they allergic to chocolate?,  etc.)  The more effort you put into doing your research, the more likely your gift will make your graduate’s own Top Ten List.

….and check out this article for more college must haves.


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