If you want to honor a grad’s accomplishments by treating them to a gift, why not give them something that’ll be useful when they get to college?

There are a ton of graduation gifts in your social media feed and on the shelves at this time of year, but the students in your life probably don’t need more water bottles or hoodies. This student-approved and parent-recommended list has gift ideas across price ranges. These items are useful, handy, and guaranteed not to be shoved under the dorm bed and forgotten about.

1. Airline Gift Cards

Most airlines offer gift cards, and they make wonderful presents for students who go to college far from home. Airfare isn’t cheap and can be an impediment to coming home for breaks or holidays. This gift could be the difference between a student having homemade stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner or microwaved mac and cheese.

2. Bathrobe

The long walk to the communal bathroom is one of the most difficult things to get used to at school. A cute, comfy bathrobe—with ample coverage—can cut down on the dose of awkwardness.

3. Voice-Controlled Assistant

There are a variety of digital assistants on the market, and they’re perfect gifts for college students. They can be used as alarms for class, play music for hanging out, can remind students to call home, and can even take voice-to-text study notes.

4. Electric Kettle

Being able to make coffee or tea in their dorm room can be a major money and time-saver. Plus, pretty much everything in the student food pyramid—oatmeal, ramen, and coffee—requires hot water.


5. Noise-Canceling Headphones

College is a noisy place, which can make it tough to get work done. A pair of good headphones can turn the noisiest dorm into a zen study lounge. They’re also great for coffee shops, loud dining halls, and studying outside.

6. Bed Topper

Dorm beds are not known for their comfiness. But that can be fixed with a soft pillow-top or a foam egg crate mattress topper, which can transform a plastic-coated, brick-like bed into a cozy sleep sanctuary.

7. Portable Charger

With class, clubs, and socializing, college students often aren’t in their dorms—or even by an accessible outlet—for hours on end. A high-quality charger can keep them going—wherever they go.

8. Monogrammed Towels

Towels are easily lost, stolen, or eaten by the closet. Make sure everyone knows which linens belong to your college student by getting them monogrammed.

9. Adult Coloring Books

The first year of college is stressful. Coloring books can be a great way to decompress. There are coloring books themed for any interest. Pick up a few and pair them with some nice colored pencils to give the gift of stress relief.


10. Pajamas

Students spend a lot of time in their pajamas—as they make the perfect studying, lounging, and snacking outfit. Make sure your grad looks their best by giving them a fab PJ set.

11. Food and Rideshare Gift Cards

From a coffee before an all-nighter to a midnight ride back to the dorms, gift cards can make those less than ideal situations a little more tolerable. Plus, you know even if they can’t get themselves out of bed before the dining hall closes for breakfast service on the weekends, they won’t starve.

12. First Aid Kit

Students don’t know they need it until they really need it. You can either buy a pre-filled one or fill one yourself with the over-the-counter supplies they previously found in the medicine cabinet at home.


13. Emergency Car Essentials

If your child is bringing their car to campus, stock the trunk with some just-in-case essentials, including jumper cables, a de-icer, bottled water, an emergency blanket, and anything else they may never use—but you’ll be so glad they have.

14. Personalized Blanket

Something low-key sentimental can stave off homesickness during those first few weeks of freshman year. Not only that, but a throw blanket or pillow with a picture of a pet back home can serve as a getting to know you conversation piece with their new suitemates.

15. Money

Money can be one of the fail-safe graduation gifts. And don’t worry that a check isn’t meaningful. Once they get on campus, students will be grateful to have the graduation money to buy first semester essentials. When that late night delivery of fries comes to the door, they’ll think of you.

Applying to college? We can help.
Start Here