Six Gift Book Suggestions for Your High School Graduate (Plus a Bonus!)

Congratulations! You have a high school graduate! This is a milestone and you want to give your student just the right gift(s). A graduation gift can be very personal and we have lists of suggestions to get you started. Be sure to check out our list – and then get your creative juices flowing.

Let’s get specific here about some summer (and beyond) reading.

If your student is headed off to college, there’s a lot to learn and understand about the college world, and your student may be both excited and anxious about how things will go. Among those graduation gifts, a book or two (or three or more) might be just the thing for your student to read over the summer as they prepare for college and also take with them for reference later. (Maybe a little surprise tucked into their luggage for discovery while they’re unpacking!)

There a lots and lots of good books about college life, college success, and career readiness out there. We have a full reading list with books for parents and books for students. But for now, here are our top six favorites to gift to your student as they head off to college. You may not want them all, but check them out and see what seems to fit your student best.

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Review – The Talking College Card Deck

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years.

This time, we’re taking a slightly different approach and reviewing a product, rather than a book, that is a great resource for helping your student make the transition from high school to college. Although we generally stick to books, we think this set of conversation prompts fills many of the same needs.

Be sure to visit our Resources page for suggestions of important books for college parents and their students.

Having the right conversations is an important way to help prepare your student for college. The Talking College Card Deck, created by Dr. Andrea Brenner, is a collection of discussion prompts for parents and students that will help you begin those essential conversations. These pre-college conversations can help parents and students learn from each other and anticipate the college experience.

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Beyond Bedding and Mini-Fridges: 12 Dorm Furnishings You May Not Have Thought Of

There is no shortage of lists of dorm-room essentials. Almost every store or website will offer you a myriad of suggestions.  And the list can get longer and longer as the summer progresses. Packing the car for move-in day can be one of the biggest challenges your family will face.

Rather than add to the already steady supply of suggestions for bedding, laundry hampers, storage solutions, and shower caddies, we thought we’d include a list of a few things you may not have thought of but that can be great additions to your student’s dorm furnishings. You won’t want them all, but adding one or two of these items to your list could be just the thing to make life easier for your student.

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10 Non-Essentials (But Fun) for Your Student’s Dorm Room

As your student gets ready to head off to college in the fall, there’s a lot to do. One of the things on your mind may be helping your student prepare for living in the dorm.  This is a big shift for most students, who have never shared a room with someone.  And this shared dorm room is now going to be their bedroom, living room, rec room, and part-time kitchen as well.

As parents, there are many ways we can help our student prepare over the summer by having some conversations to help them anticipate what they may encounter, but we often jump into helping them think about their dorm room — possibly because it is one of the few concrete, measurable things we can do. And we want to make sure they’ll be comfortable and provisioned.

There is no shortage of lists of dorm-room essentials. Almost every store or website will offer you a myriad of suggestions.  And the list can get longer and longer as the summer progresses. Packing the car for move-in day can be one of the biggest challenges your family will face.

So rather than add to the already steady supply of suggestions for the essentials, we’d like to suggest ten items that your student doesn’t ”need” but that could be fun additions to liven up their dorm room.  You won’t want them all, but adding one or two to your summer shopping list might be fun. Some are mildly practical and some are just plain silly.  See what you think.

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How a Walk Down Memory Lane Can Help Your College Student Move Forward

We all want to move forward — especially this year. We have our eyes on the future and we’re anxious to leave this very difficult year behind us.

Sometimes, when children are young, they thrust themselves headlong in one direction while busily watching all that is going on around them. The result? They trip and fall. We admonish them, ”Point your nose with your toes! Look where you are going!”

Why then, might we want to help our students look backwards — maybe quite far backwards — in order to move forward?

Because reflection is a clarifying exercise. It helps us think about where we’ve been. It helps us gain perspective. It helps us gather wisdom from the past. It helps us move forward with greater purpose and understanding.

Help your student take a walk down their own memory lane

As your student prepares to head off to college, they are, appropriately, looking to their new life and the fresh start that it brings. This is an ideal time to help them slow down a little and remember how they have come to this place.

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Moving From Graduation Season into Summer

If you have a high school or college senior, both you and your student are most likely focused on the finish line — graduation! Your student has worked hard to get here, it’s been a long time coming, and this last year has probably be especially trying for everyone.

First, there may still be a few weeks remaining of that all-important final year. Help your student stay focused and help them ride the many emotions they may be feeling. Be sure to attend to the details that may be necessary to wrap things up and prepare for that final event.

Second, enjoy the occasion. It will probably look different this year than you imagined a few years ago, but the milestone is just as momentous. Relax (easier said than done), smile a lot (even if it’s still behind a mask), and share in your student’s excitement (and maybe a little trepidation as well.)

Then, once all of the festivities are over, it’s time to change focus and begin to ease into summer and begin to anticipate what’s next.  It’s a time of transition and change for everyone — whether your student is leaving high school to head to college or the workforce, or whether they are heading to college. It’s time for the next step — for both your student and for you.

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10 Potential Pivot Points for Your College Student

The college years are a journey. As your student travels through these years, there will be moments of transition and turning points. Your student may need to pivot and change direction.

Sometimes these pivots may be prompted by a crisis — a time when a decision needs to be made that will determine future events. Sometimes the pivot may be more simply a modification — a slight shift, much as a basketball player might turn and change direction while still keeping one foot planted.

If your student needs to pivot, the shift may be of their own making — a decision to change something — or it may be a change that is unexpected or mandated. In either case, your student may take the shift in stride or may feel overwhelmed and unsettled.  You may need to help your student process what this pivot means.

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Whether Your College Student Is On Campus or Home: 20 Ideas for a Successful Semester

This semester looks different at almost every college in the nation. As each school attempts to find ways to educate their students in the midst of a pandemic, there are students studying fully on campus, fully at home, studying in hybrid modes and just about everything in between. Some schools are already well into their semester, some haven’t yet begun their year yet, and many have had to pivot from their original plans.

All of this means that your student has already had to adapt and adjust to new ways of doing college. Whether your student is a brand-new first-year student or a veteran sophomore, junior or senior, the approach to college this year is a first for everyone.

As a parent, you worry first about whether your student will remain healthy, but you may also worry about how your student will fare with all of these new ways of learning. We all want our students to succeed.

If your student is studying remotely this semester, they don’t have access to the usual on-campus ways of finding support and contacting professors. But even those students who are on campus may find restricted in-person contact with services and faculty.

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Lost in Transition: In the Midst of COVID Worries Students Still Need to Adjust

This fall semester will be like no other. For students just beginning their college career, the world looks very different. Some will be beginning college from home, learning remotely. Some will be learning through a hybrid model, partially online and partially in the classroom. Still others will experience a somewhat altered Move-in Day and take up residence in a dorm room to take their courses in a classroom with a professor standing in front of them.

Definitely not your typical freshman experience.

This year, we’re all worried about COVID-19 and its effects on our students. If students will be at home, we worry about isolation and how much they’ll actually be able to learn. If students will be on campus, we worry about how the virus spreads, and whether students will socially distance and remember to wear their masks. We worry about what will happen if the campus has an outbreak or our student gets sick.

Amid all of this worry about the virus, we may overlook all of the usual transition issues that college freshmen might experience.

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Please Tell Your Student These 8 Things Before They Go to College This Fall

Beginning college is a big moment — for both you and your student. This is an especially big transition if your student is going away to live on campus. Although more students may be doing college from home this fall, the transition to college is still a major shift for both of you.  In fact, it may be even more difficult if your student will be doing college from home.  It just doesn’t feel that different, so it’s harder to remember that this isn’t high school any more.

But whether your student is home, a few miles away, or across the country, there are some important reminders you should share to help them succeed. And a few of these may be good reminders for parents as well.

Please tell your student the following 8 things:

  1. Be sure to check your college email regularly.”

Start now, well before school begins. Email may seem old fashioned to your student, but it is the primary way that most colleges share information with students. This summer especially, as the world around us is constantly changing, it is important for your student to be regularly checking for information arriving from the school. Once the semester begins, this is also the way that most professors will expect to reach students — and expect students to reply. Your student should check their email daily — and respond to messages as quickly as possible.

Note to parents: Most information from the college will go directly to your student rather than to parents. Be sure to ask your student to share important updates with you. Remind your student, too, that checking and responding to email is good practice for professional expectations later. Not many of us could say to our boss, ”No, I didn’t see your message or request, I haven’t checked my email in a while.”

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