College Graduation Gift Ideas

It’s graduation season – and your student is graduating! Congratulations!

Your student may move on to graduate school or begin a new career. They may be moving home or into their own apartment.

No matter where your student is headed, this is a milestone and you want to mark the occasion with an appropriate graduation gift. Whether it’s large or small, practical or sentimental, it’s sometimes difficult to come up with just the right ideas.

Special gifts should be personal, and you know your student best. We’re offering some suggestions to help you start your imagination flowing. Think about your student’s interests, needs, and personality and see where it takes you.

We’re listing a dozen ideas here, but then be sure to check out our list of ideas from previous years. All together, you’ve got nearly 50 ideas to get you started.

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It’s No April Fool’s Joke! College Parent Central Is Celebrating an Anniversary!

Each year, as April rolls around, College Parent Central celebrates an anniversary. We are always pleased, and sometimes a little amazed, that we’re still here a year later.

This year we celebrate our fourteenth year. Happy Anniversary to us!

When we first launched on April 1st in 2009 we weren’t sure what to expect. It seemed somehow appropriate to choose April Fool’s Day. Launch something that seems like a good idea and see what happens. Who knows?

We recognized that college parents (and high school parents, too) needed information and support, and we hoped we could help provide some of that guidance. Now, as we celebrate our fourteenth year, we continue that belief, and parents continue to let us know they appreciate the information we provide.

Thank you to all of those who have given us feedback and support and who have shared our information with others! Word of mouth is still the best way to reach those who can use this information.

Our Mission

It is always a good idea, from time to time, to reflect on your roots. Each time we look back to the purpose that drove us to launch College Parent Central, we reaffirm that our basic principles haven’t changed.

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Take a Non-Tour Campus Tour

One important part of the college admission process is visiting campuses to get a real feel for the schools on your student’s list.

Some students are anxious to get started on this stage of the process and others may drag their feet – in some cases because they are nervous. It may make sense to start by visiting a school or two that aren’t on your student’s list of favorites so you can all get comfortable with the format and process, but eventually you get to those all-important visits to colleges on your student’s short list.

Most campus tours are fairly standard. Admission counselors make a short presentation followed by a student led tour around the campus. The tour usually includes key buildings such as the student center, dining services, performance space, classrooms, science labs, library, a typical dorm, and any showplaces at that particular college.

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Why Your Student Should Visit Colleges They’re Not Interested In

Campus visits can do a lot to help your student decide whether a school is right for them. As part of the admission process, most students try to visit the schools on their wish list to get a sense of the campus and students. It’s a good way to determine the best fit, but it can be time consuming and, depending on your student’s list, expensive.

Why, then, would anyone suggest that your student visit schools not on their wish list? Why bother visiting if you’re not interested?

Gathering information

One of the main reasons to visit any college campus is to gather information. If the school is on your student’s short list, they are hoping to learn whether that school feels right – academically, socially, financially. By visiting a school not on your student’s list, they can gather information that will help them learn about themselves and about the world of college in general. This information may help them put together, or hone, their actual list of schools.

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Graduation! Wisdom to Share

Your student is graduating! Congratulations!

Whether this graduation is from high school or college, it can be a bittersweet time for you as a parent. You’re proud and excited! But you also see your child growing up and taking an important next step in their life.

It can be an uncertain and nervous time for everyone.

Perhaps there will be a party. Probably there are gifts. Maybe a card or a letter. It feels as though this is one last opportunity to impart some wisdom – some life advice – to your student.

Really, you will continue to have opportunities to share your advice – some of it welcome and some perhaps less welcome – throughout your student’s life. But this is a moment. You want to get this one right.

We’ve suggested that one option might be to write your own commencement speech. What words would you like your student to hear? What would you tell them if you had the opportunity (challenge?) of writing the speech they would hear as they proudly sit in that cap and gown.

The wisdom you share with your student needs to be yours, of course, from your heart directly to the child you know so well. But it’s sometimes nice to have a little help getting started.

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#038 – The Addiction Inoculation: An Interview with Author Jessica Lahey

We were honored to be able to spend some time talking with Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed,  about her new book The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence. Jessica’s new book weaves together her personal story about addiction with a tremendous amount of information about topics such as brain development, drinking culture, substance use disorder, and ways both parents and schools can approach this sensitive topic. The book contains suggestions and scripts for conversations with your kids from pre-school through elementary, middle and high school as well as college. With this book, parents will be armed with the information they need to talk to their kids about alcohol and drugs.

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn Radio | iHeart Radio

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It’s a New Year! Do You Need Resolutions in 2021?

The year 2020 is finally in the rear-view mirror.  There’s still a pandemic, and there’s still a lot of turmoil in our world, but somehow we need to find hope in the new year.  2021 will be better. We need to believe that.

Somehow, it seems more difficult this year to think about New Year’s resolutions. We’ve all just been hanging on — trying to survive. That seems enough for this year. Survive the present, look to the future, believe things will get better — and don’t try to challenge yourself too much.

But it is a new year, after all, and that brings with it not just hope for a better year, but a challenge to make it a better year.

We’ve offered some New Year’s resolutions, or thoughts, each year since College Parent Central began. So this year, I’ve gone back to reread them, which was an interesting reflective exercise on its own. (Click on the year’s date if you’d like to see the full list for some extra inspiration.)  But I’ve selected just one resolution from each year to share here. The choice wasn’t always easy, but I tried to pull one thing that seems relevant to where we are today.

Take these as a start for your own reflections. You may be inspired to make some resolutions of your own, or you may just opt for survival this year. But I hope these provide a way for you to think about your college student (or almost college student) and about your parenting role in the new year.

Happy, Healthy, Safe New Year!

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Book Review: From High School to College: Steps to Success for Students with Disabilities

NOTE: This article was updated in March 2023 to include links to the new edition of this book.  Still the same good information – just more of it!

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.  We’ve offered some lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. Visit our Resources page for suggestions of important books for college parents and their students.

I work with first-year college students who have Learning Differences and ADHD at a small four-year liberal arts college. Every year I meet families and students making this transition who do not have a clear understanding on the differences in disability services and accommodations between secondary and postsecondary levels.

If you are the parent of a student with Learning Differences and you only have time to read one book about the shift from high school to college, please choose this bookSeven Steps to College Success: A Pathway for Students with Disabilities, by Elizabeth C. Hamblet. It covers the essential topics both you and your student need to know with clear insight, common sense, and wisdom.

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#022 – College Secrets of Highly Successful People: An Interview with Lindy and Tom Schneider

Students and their parents focus a lot of energy on the process of getting into college. It is also essential to think about how students can use their college experiences to build a path to future success.  In this interview, Vicki and Lynn talk with Lindy and Tom Schneider, authors of the book College Secrets of Highly Successful People and explore their tips for making the most of the opportunities college presents. They share some of the colorful stories of famous and not so famous people who have taken advantage of their college experiences to build successful careers. Tom and Lindy’s use of humor and real life, practical stories and suggestions make their book, and this podcast, especially enjoyable.

Subscribe to our podcast: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn Radio | iHeart Radio

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College Parent News & Views

The more that college parents know and understand about the college experience, the less we worry and the better we will be able to help our students to succeed and thrive throughout their college career.  However, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there on the web.   We’d like to help you find some of the information that might be most interesting and useful to you as a college parent.

In News and Views we share recent college related news and sources we’ve found as we do our research.  We hope that this feature will help to introduce you to new ideas and to help you keep up with some of the current issues that may affect your college student — and you.

We invite you to read some of the articles suggested below — and to let us know what you think of some of the ideas included here.

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