Gift Guide 2011: Gifts for Grads
Compiled by Katherine L. Cohen, Ph.D., CEO & Founder and the team of counselors at ApplyWise.com
As June graduation nears, soon to be followed by departure to college, your student is getting ready to embark on the next leg of his or her academic and social journey. Commencement is truly an event to celebrate. Often, family and friends seek a way to both commemorate the occasion and prepare students for what comes next. The expert counselors at ApplyWise have put together a list of graduation gift ideas for every budget that are sure to excite and inspire your graduating senior.
Merchandise that Screams School Spirit
College merchandise isn’t what it used to be, and that is actually a good thing for your graduating senior. While the standard school T-shirt is sure to become a lifelong favorite, there are several stylish additions to the collegiate swag scene. For women, check out Victoria’s Secret’s exclusive Collegiate Collection of loungewear—students’ favorite stylish comfy apparel now comes emblazoned with the monikers of 40+ colleges. For men, Old Navy has created a line of vintage-esque collegiate t-shirts that already have that broken-in feel. For the ethical-minded student, consider shopping the threads at School House. Started by a U.S. Fulbright Scholar, the company is on a mission to promote fair-trade practices as well as quality products and design to the collegiate fashion market.
If you’re not quite sure of your student’s clothing style, there are many great practical gift options to celebrate a new campus affiliation: a printed lanyard is great for keeping student IDs and dorm keys accessible; blankets or throws are handy for staking ground under a tree to study or keeping cozy during fall tailgates; and travel mugs can be a necessity for those 8:00 AM classes.
College Town Guides
For many students, going to college also means moving to a new location. It’s important to make sure your student feels comfortable in these new surroundings. Consider a Zagat Guide tailored to your student’s new city (to take it a step further, include gift cards for recommended area restaurants). Not For Tourists (NFT) guides are also great, as they provide useful information that traditional guidebooks don’t, including supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and other essentials, as well as easy-to-read neighborhood maps. To enable your student to explore his or her new town, consider buying a gas card (if cars are allowed on campus) or public transit pass.
For many students, a singular, shared dorm room will become a multifunctional replacement to their former, private abode. The key is to make this limited space as comfortable as possible, and also make it their own. Dorm Décor from Chronicle Books offers 35 projects that will give your student creative ideas and resources beyond posters and cool sheets to make their space truly feel like home. (Consider pairing this book with dorm room necessities, such as extra-long twin sheets and desk lamps).
When it comes to appliances, always think small space friendly. A mini fridge can be essential – students can avoid constant treks to the vending machines and the dining hall by keeping cold sodas, filtered water, milk for cereal, and healthy snacks such as fruits and veggies on hand. A compact microwave is great for reheating leftovers from meals eaten out and weekend visits home (a welcome change from school cuisine), as well as cooking no fuss dorm room snacks. A personal coffee maker is perfect for early mornings and all-nighters! Consider one that brews individual serving pods or k-cups directly into a travel mug.
College Survival Kit
Create a customized freshman year survival kit for your student. It can be as big or as small as you want, and can be presented in a related item such as a hamper, laundry basket or shower caddy as an added bonus. Mix these practical gifts and fun extras for a unique and sure-to-be-appreciated surprise:
- Some college students would rather go without (or perhaps worse, improvise) than spend their limited funds on essentials like shampoo and toothpaste. Make sure they have plenty of both of these, as well as other everyday items!
- First-aid fundamentals such as Band-Aids, cotton balls, over-the-counter painkillers, tweezers, and an ice pack are sure to come in handy.
- For the bathroom, flip-flops are key and a nice towel or a bathrobe is an added perk.
- Non-perishable foods such as cereal (eat breakfast in, and opt for a cheaper meal plan), popcorn, instant noodles, Pop-Tarts, peanut butter, and granola bars, as well as gum and mints, make great dorm room snacks.
- For laundry, rolls of quarters, detergent (the kind that mom uses), and stain sticks can be extremely useful. Add a quick how-to guide that gives tips on how to get out common stains and other clothing conundrums for a personal touch.
- For fun, consider including a magazine or Netflix subscription, or a Student Advantage card. For a modest initial price, this card saves students money on campus and online, with up to 50 percent discounts on everything from travel to textbooks, to cell phones and clothing.
The iPad, Apple’s touch-screen tablet computer, revolutionized the technology scene with its release last year. Though it may be a splurge, the device’s latest incarnation, the iPad 2, is the perfect gift for college-bound grads! Like its predecessor, the iPad 2 has high-speed Internet capabilities that are great for conducting research and checking e-mail. Even lighter and more compact than the original, the iPad 2 is perfect for toting to class (include the keyboard dock to make typing notes a breeze). Apps such as Audio Memos 2 allow your student to easily record and store classes and lectures. In fact, with more than 65,000 apps available for the iPad, students will be able to create presentations in Keynote, download textbooks using the Kindle app (without the heavy lugging), and upload personalized study materials with gWhizmobile. It’s a great gift for parents too - the iPad 2’s built-in camera will let you video chat with your student – you won’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to get some “face time”!
Hopefully we've given you a few great ideas on how to surprise and delight the graduating seniors in your life. Graduation is an exciting time for students and their families and as you come together to commemorate this hard-earned achievement, the team at ApplyWise wishes you all the best!
Get expert help applying to college with ApplyWise’s online college counseling program. Copyright ApplyWise LLC ©2011
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