10 Useful College Graduation Gifts to Jump-Start Success

A college graduate with family and friends
| 6 min read Guides

Graduating from college is a huge accomplishment and one of the most important milestones of a person’s life. However, with it comes a lot of change. As a new graduate prepares to enter into the “real world,” you may be wondering what to give for a graduation gift that can set them up for success. Picking a meaningful present can significantly influence a college graduate’s journey into adulthood. To help, we’ve put together a guide of college graduation gifts that every new grad will appreciate and actually find useful.

10 best college graduation gifts that are actually helpful

1. A letter with advice you would give to your younger self

As the saying goes, “hindsight is 20/20.” Looking back on your own post-graduation experiences, consider equipping a recent college graduate with a written letter full of advice you would give to your younger self. Include lessons you learned ranging from successes to setbacks. While you can easily type up the letter, go the extra mile to handwrite it to make it more personal. Offering guidance and reassurance makes this a timeless gift for graduation that can be cherished for years to come.

2. A GoFundMe to fund their next steps

After college graduation, a new grad might be getting ready for grad school or taking the first big step into the job market. Whatever their post-graduation path entails, make an impact by helping the new grad raise money for their next move. By starting a fundraiser on GoFundMe on behalf of the new grad, their family, friends, and community can all come together to help the graduate raise funds for things like grad school tuition or to cover the cost of essentials as they begin their new career. Moreover, supporting the new grad with a GoFundMe will help lessen some of their financial stressors so that they can focus on enjoying this next phase. 

3. A personal development book

Does your college grad love to read? Offer them the gift of knowledge and personal development with a book such as “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. This particular book dives into easy ways to form good habits and how to break bad ones. Life after college can be daunting but with these practical strategies, your college grad will have the necessary tools to achieve their goals.

4. Cooking lessons

There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal, and this especially rings true for college students who’ve had years of campus dining and microwave meals. By gifting a graduate with cooking lessons, they’ll gain the invaluable skill of being able to cook for themselves. This in turn will help them eat healthier and save money. Whether it’s a local in-person cooking class or an online lesson on a platform like MasterClass, this graduation gift is both fun and practical. As a bonus, you can include a printout of your favorite recipe when gifting.

5. An air fryer or other easy-to-use kitchen appliance 

On the topic of cooking, college graduates will appreciate new kitchen appliances such as an air fryer. The new grad might be moving into a new apartment or starting their first job so they’ll need to be able to make easy meals that’ll save them time. An air fryer is a great gift for a busy young adult as it allows them to quickly prepare tasty food with minimal oil, which is ideal for maintaining healthy eating habits. Other kitchen appliances like a high-quality coffee maker can also be an excellent grad gift for those early morning workdays.

6. Airline miles

If the new college graduate in your life loves to travel or needs to frequently fly to visit family, gifting airline miles is a thoughtful gesture. Since travel expenses can add up, airline miles will help alleviate some of those costs while still encouraging them to explore new places and experiences.

7. New luggage

Pair those airline miles with a well-made piece of luggage. New grads can benefit from having a sturdy suitcase, duffel bag, or backpack that will hold up through the wear and tear of travel. Look for options with features such as durable wheels, spacious compartments, and a TSA-approved lock for added security of belongings during trips. If you’re not sure where to start, a “carry-on size” will allow the grad to travel without having to worry about paying for checked baggage.

8. Noise-canceling headphones

From traveling to working in a busy office environment and living with roommates, noise-canceling headphones are a must-have item for any college graduate. What makes noise-canceling headphones a game changer compared to regular headphones is that they have the ability to tune out surrounding noise. This helps create a personal oasis of calm and enables focus and relaxation in any atmosphere, which is particularly useful in today’s always-on world.

9. New bedding

Help a college grad transition from old, worn-down bedding to a new set of high-quality bed sheets, blankets, and pillowcases. Helping them with new essentials like bedding can make them feel more “grown-up.” After the stresses and long nights of college life, graduates will be grateful for the upgrade to a more restful sleep. For this gift for a college graduate, choose breathable materials such as cotton or bamboo to maximize comfort. 

10. Mindfulness essentials

Graduation gifts that promote mindfulness and physical well-being can be profoundly beneficial for college grads who are juggling a busy schedule. Consider gifting a membership to a local yoga studio, a subscription to a meditation app, or even therapy sessions through mental health platforms like BetterHelp. A gym membership can also be great for the college grad who lives an active lifestyle or for those seeking to make physical health a priority. 

Enhance life after college with these useful grad gifts 

With so many college graduation gift ideas out there, you can’t go wrong with selecting a gift that provides practical solutions, enhances physical and emotional well-being, and offers encouragement as the new grad embarks on their next adventure. Each of these gifts for college grads will help them adjust to and thrive in their new phase of life. Whether it’s through self-care, traveling, cooking, or personal development, these gifts for grads aren’t just helpful but are thoughtful ways to show your support for the exciting journey ahead. 

Written by Brittany Chambers

I believe we all have the power to make a difference. Through informative and heartfelt content, I hope to create change and inspire others to give back to those who need it most.