Gift Ideas for Your High School Graduate

Your high school student is graduating! Congratulations! It’s been a long road to get to this point. Your student was faced with important decisions about which college to attend. And now you are facing important decisions as well — what to give your student for graduation.

This is a milestone and you want to mark the moment with an appropriate graduation gift. Your graduation gift may be large or small, practical or sentimental, but one source of ideas may be some of the things that your student can use if she is headed to college.

Here are some suggestions to help you begin thinking about what you’d like to do for your graduate. Use these possibilities to start your own imagination working about what your graduate might like or need.

Charging Station/Portable Charger — There are so many devices that need to be charged! Your student may appreciate one place to be able to charge them all — and if that charger is portable as well, it’s even better.

Monogrammed Bath Towels – Your college student will be sharing bathrooms with other students — and things like towels are often left behind. Consider sending your student off with some easily identifiable towels so she’ll be able to find hers in bathrooms or laundry rooms.

Laundry bag/Supplies – All of those trips to the dorm laundry room will be easier with an easily transportable laundry bag. Consider one that can be carried as a backpack. It also helps if it is squishable and easily stuffed into the closet for quick clean-up. Consider adding a few laundry supplies (and maybe even some directions) to the bag to help your student get started.

Keurig coffee maker – Whether it’s late night study sessions or a quick morning cup before heading off to class, your student will want to be able to grab a cup of coffee without having to get to the dining hall or snack bar. The ease of the single cup will be appreciated. And if your student isn’t a coffee drinker, this can just as easily brew cocoa, tea, and hot cider.

Mattress topper – Although adequate, most dorm beds are often less-than-luxurious and sometimes less-than-comfortable. Give your student an easily washed mattress topper to add comfort and warmth.

“Collegewear” — Order one (or a few) items from the college bookstore. Consider a sweatshirt, T-shirt, jacket — anything that has the name of the college emblazoned on it. Your student will wear it with pride all summer even before she gets to school.

A Gift Certificate to the College Bookstore — Book purchases and various supplies will add up quickly once your student arrives at college. She’ll appreciate at least a head start on those expenses at the college bookstore.

Noise Cancelling Headphones – College residence halls are wonderfully social, but they can also be noisy. Your student might appreciate being able to shut that noise out when it’s time to concentrate and focus on studying.

A Runaway Alarm Clock – There’s not much worse than missing class or arriving late because you overslept. If your student has a tendency to sleep through the alarm, consider a fun clock that actually leaps off the table and runs away — until your student chases it down and turns it off. She may not thank you at first, but she will when she gets to class on time!

Signable Wall Canvas – Have this available at your student’s graduation party or when high school friends get together over the summer. They sign and leave messages and your student can hang it on the wall of her dorm room. She’ll appreciate those good luck messages from her friends and family.

Photo Memory Book — Create a memory book of family and friend photos with Shutterfly, Snapfish, or another company. Your student will appreciate being able to look through it during those times when she misses home or just wants to enjoy the memories.
Bedphones – Not all headphones are comfortable for sleeping, but these are designed just for that purpose. If your student may have trouble sleeping in a noisy dorm or with a roommate listening to music or on the phone, these may be just the thing to fall asleep with.

Local Restaurant Gift Cards — Do a little research and find some of the local restaurants near your student’s new campus. Give her a few gift cards and encourage her to have a meal or two off campus with her new friends.

A “Home” T-Shirt — These T-shirts show your student’s home state with the word ”home” in the center. This would be especially appreciated by students attending school out of state. Let them show off their home state with pride.

A Netflix Account — There will be down-time when your student needs a break from studying and needs to binge-watch something. She’ll appreciate having access to options with a Netflix account.

Amazon Prime Account – College students shop online. Free shipping and faster service is always a bonus. Add access to movies, music and tv shows and it’s a sure winner.

Food-of-the-Month – Consider a gift of food that lasts or continues to arrive throughout the year. Consider fruit of the month, jelly of the month, coffee of the month, snack of the month, almost anything of the month. College students love to receive packages — and packages that contain food are even better.

Books — Help your student get off to a good start in college with any (or all) of the books listed on our books resource page.

Be sure to check out our Holiday Gift Ideas for more suggestions that can be used for graduation as well.


Consider registering your student for our First Term! subscription newsletter for college success. Beginning in late August, your student will receive a weekly newsletter with tips and suggestions for college success. A great way to send your student off armed for success in that first semester.

Note: We think these are great gift ideas for your student no matter where you purchase them. If you use our links, College Parent Central receives a small percentage of your purchase price. This does not change the cost to you. We think it’s only fair to let you know that.

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