A Guide to Graduation Day Gifts

Finding the perfect gift for your grad on their big day isn’t nearly as hard as you think it is. At least not with this ultimate guide to graduation day gifts! It’s full of awesome gift ideas for any degree of relation (son/daughter, niece/nephew, friend, etc.) no matter your budget.

Why Is Finding a Graduation Gift So Hard?

Graduation day is a rite of passage that signifies an epic milestone in the transition from child to adult. Your grad is about to take a big step in life, so it’s natural to want to give them a gift that will help them take on the world.

Happy Graduation However, most of us have no idea where to even start!

You know you need to get an amazing gift—thoughtful, memorable, and functional—but it’s tough, especially if you haven’t been a young adult in a long time (join the club!).

That’s why we put together this complete guide to graduation gifts.

The Perfect Gift for Your Grad:

Functionality Meets Practicality

If you’re stuck on ideas for the right graduation gift, keep functionality and practicality in mind. Ask yourself: “How does this gift help my grad in the next stage of life?”

Forget about what they want—get them what they NEED.

Girls with degree
For college grads, ask yourself, will the gift
  • help them get a job (clothing, subscriptions, accessories)?
  • improve their quality of life (gadgets, entertainment, subscriptions)?
  • help them build a home (furniture, home improvements, home accessories)?
  • make them a well-rounded person (travel, exercise, etc.)?
  • fill a basic need (cash, food, gift cards)?
Boys with degree
For high school grads, will the gift
  • prepare them for college (prep books, tech, study materials)?
  • make their summer unforgettable (vacation, gift cards to a favorite place)?
  • improve their quality of life (anything that makes them look cool to friends)?

OK, now that you know how to find the perfect gift, we’re going to jump the gun completely and tell you what the best gift is for ANY GRAD:

Cold Hard Cash?

Cash rules everything around grads. Whether they are going off to college, jet-setting to a gap year, or starting their first real job in life, cash is the no. 1 thing they need.

Piggy As the gift giver, don’t worry about looking lazy or unthoughtful. Graduation day is romantic and memorable enough as it is, so don’t overthink things.

It’s the thought that counts—except when there are bills to pay. Break out that checkbook and start writing 0s!

You don’t need this complete (and amazing) guide to graduation day gifts to tell you that Benjamin Franklin is who a grad really wants to see on their big day. Thus, let’s cover gift giving in more detail.

If you want to get the perfect gift, you first need to understand the history, meaning, and etiquette behind this epic moment in a young person’s life.

Graduation day is steeped in centuries of tradition, funny outfits, and names we all can’t understand (valedict——who?). That means we all have a lot to learn about what and what not to do. Here’s how to ensure your day is full of grace, honor, and pride rather than cold stares at the next family reunion.


Graduation Day Etiquette:

Tips for Grads, Family, and Guests

Graduation Etiquette for Grads

It might be your big day, but that doesn’t mean you should be selfish. Stop taking selfies and talk to people. The ceremony should be the main thing on your mind.


“Wait, I don’t have to wear that cap and gown all day, right?” No, you don’t. Thank God. Just make sure what’s underneath isn’t more embarrassing than what’s on top. Think nice pants, skirts, button-downs, and dress tops rather than flip-flops, jean shorts, and tank tops. TIP: Wear light fabrics. It’s going to get hot!

Etiquette Dos Etiquette Don'ts

Sending Invitations


This issue has torn families apart for centuries. Most schools have a limited amount of seating, so someone is bound to be left out. Be as polite as possible when telling someone there’s only room for immediate family (Wish you could be there, Auntie Anne!). Decide who you want embarrassing you from the stands and who you want holding a grudge against you forever.

Writing Invitations


Believe it or not, people still write using pen and ink. Graduation invitations should be written in blue or black ink and always use formal addresses (Mr., Mrs., etc.). Always send them a few weeks before the ceremony so nobody gets blindsided and shows up in a rent-a-tux.

Attending Friends’ Parties

Friend's Party

Don’t worry, you don’t have to stay at your own party the whole night. Make sure to stay long enough to welcome all of the guests and have some conversation (basically, just take pictures with everyone). Then go see your friends and congratulate them. They’ll understand. It would be nice if you stopped back later though.

Thank-You Letters

Thank-You Letter

You are going to get A LOT of gifts, so you’d better send thank-you letters. Send a handwritten note (YES, YOUR HUMAN HAND CAN WRITE) because it shows respect and honor to someone who invested a lot of money in you. Don’t know how to write a thank-you note? This post teaches you how to write a gracious letter FAST with a simple five-step formula.

Graduation Tip: Tell ’Em Which Gifts You Want

Grads, there are a lot of family and friends out there (maybe reading this guide) who wish they knew what on earth they should get you for graduation.

You don’t need a wedding day bridal-lke gift list, but it wouldn’t hurt to let people know there are a few things you’d love to have. Trust us, it will help a TON.

Don’t know what you want? Here are a few gifts that you will absolutely NEED for your next step in life.

A New Laptop
Fast, practical, and full of memory space for your games—oops, we mean schoolwork. A brand-new laptop will be a godsend whether you are heading off to college or the “real world.” The brand isn’t important, but there’s one that has a certain fruit as a logo and is absolutely a killer.
Sharp Clothes
You need to look good for that date on Friday—oops, we mean that job interview—and you have no idea how much a first impression matters. Something stylish, multipurpose, and practical will go a long way no matter the class, company, or first-date venue!
A tablet, smartphone, or smartwatch will make Friday nights alone—oops, we mean at the office—much more convenient. Having separate devices for work and personal use is highly recommended.

Let your family know they can’t go wrong with any of these ideas.

Graduation Etiquette for Immediate Family

Graduation day is a crock pot of emotions, with some sweet “My baby is growing up!” and some bitter “Wait, how old am I?” It’s important to keep it together and make it a day to remember rather than one to forget. Here’s what to do:

Graduation Announcement
  • Set Expectations with Your Grad:This is their big day, but let them know they have to behave. They are an adult and should act like it. If they are inviting friends to their party, make sure they know that this isn’t a time to get wild.
  • Talk to Close Family That Isn’t Invited:You’re the adult here, so #Adulting is your responsibility. You should play peacekeeper and explain the situation. Almost everyone understands—.but there’s always that one. Just invite them to the BBQ!
  • Plan the Party:Decide whether you are having a backyard BBQ or a formal dinner. If your invitations were sent on time, it’ll be easy to do all the shopping.
  • Dress to Impress:This will be one of the proudest moments of your life. Dress like it. Imagine you are going to church in your Sunday best or dressing for an important interview. Don’t be bashful. Go all out if you want to!
  • Send Out Graduation Announcements:Some say to wait until after graduation to send announcements. You could do that. However, getting it out of the way is less stressful. Do it now! Let everyone know how proud you are, but make sure to be clear that this is “just an announcement.” If you don’t, people who aren’t invited might show up or send gifts they can’t afford because they feel obligated to.
  • Let It Be about the Grad:Don’t ruin your grad’s day by bringing up petty issues. If they want to invite someone you don’t like, deal with it. Don’t try to steal their thunder either. Clap all you want, but don’t be that parent that gets on YouTube or becomes a meme (Google what that is if you have to).

Graduation Gifts for Immediate Family (Son/Daughter/Grandkids)

#Adulting IS NOT easy. Here are some awesome gifts that your recent grad will LOVE. Remember, this is an amazing and emotional milestone in their lives. Finding a gift that measures up to that is not easy. Here are some ideas to get you started. Any son or daughter will LOVE you for these:

Give them the world:
You’ve always wanted to give your kid the world. Now you can! Kind of. Dinner at Canale Grande in Venice. A museum night at the Louvre. The beach in Rio. What better way to say “I love you” than a dream vacation? Send them to a magical location and help them forge memories they’ll never forget.
A tablet for their downtime:
They won’t have much free time, but a tablet will make it much more enjoyable when they do. Their company will most likely provide a computer, so give them something they can chill at home with and binge-watch Netflix.
Furnish their apartment:
Furniture is a GREAT idea. A bookcase, work desk, comfy mattress, etc. are all great ideas and probably out of their budget. Household appliances aren’t a bad idea either!
Help them dress to impress:
A suit, tie, blazer, nice watch, shoes, or just gift cards to #Adulting clothing retailers is a great way to set them up for professional success (and awesome Instagram photos). If they’re off to a job hunt or already have something lined up, take them out to a store and help them get good advice from professionals.

Graduation Etiquette for Distant Family and Friends

Whether you are graduating with your good friend or just attending the party for support, make sure to be on your best behavior. You’ve got it easier than everyone. Just be thoughtful, respectful, and polite. Here are a few tips:

Etiquette Tips
  • Understand the Difference between an Announcement and an Invitation:Don’t make the same mistake we did and show up to a party you weren’t invited to. An announcement is just letting you know the person is graduating, not that you are actually invited.
  • RSVP on Time:Nothing is more disrespectful than letting an RSVP go until the last minute or, worse, not responding at all and showing up. If you don’t RSVP, the family won’t know how many guests to plan for.
  • Write a Thoughtful Card:Send a handwritten letter to the grad and family expressing your happiness for them. Tip: Life advice and shared memories are more powerful than cash or gift cards. Don’t know what to write?Here’s what Hallmark says about writing a graduation card.
  • Arrive a Bit LATE:Seriously! If you aren’t a very close relative, there’s no reason to arrive early and be that awkward first guest. If you want to, be our guest—but don’t feel obligated to. Being 15–20 minutes late is just fine.
  • Give a Gift:You don’t have to give a gift if you’ve only received an announcement, but sending a thoughtful card would be nice. If you attend the party, you should bring a gift. How much you spend depends on how close you are to the grad. Don’t worry, they are about to get showered in gifts, so don’t go overboard if you don’t have the budget. Cash and gift cards work just fine.
Graduation brown cap
Pro Tip:
Think about what you wish you had in your first apartment or in college. Times have changed, but it will still help.

Graduation Gifts for Niece/Nephew

Aunts and uncles want to help their nieces and nephews take on the world too, but don’t feel obligated to spend as much as your brother or sister. Although of course, if you want to, then be our guest. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Graduation Announcement
  • Accessorize.Let your brother/sister get their kids the expensive stuff. You provide the accessories: a nice wallet or handbag, dress, shoes, heels, a nice custom watch, or necklace. Get where we’re going with this? Why not get your nephew a tie or two? We’re sure your niece will turn heads with a great makeup set. That stuff is EXPENSIVE.
  • Gift cards for a spending spree.Gift cards will be used up in about five minutes. Trust us. Get them a branded gift card to their favorite retailer and sleep well at night.
  • Throw pillows, dining sets, blankets, household tools, and anything like those make great gifts for the next member of the workforce.
  • Believe it or not, millennials still write with their hands. A personal journal is a warm and loving gift that they can use every day.

Graduation Gifts for a Friend’s or a Colleague’s Kids

You don’t have to go too crazy for your friends’ grads (unless they are absolute best friends) or for your colleagues’ kids. Honestly, a simple congratulatory card or offering of life advice is good enough in our book.

However, it’s always nice to give the gift of giving. Here are some simple gifts that will say “Congrats and good luck” without lightening the wallet too much.

Gift for colleague's kid
  • Fine wine:Wine is genderless and timeless, making it a great gift for him or her (if they’re a college grad). They’re going to need it after pulling an OT the second week in a row. A nice-looking bottle also makes for a tasteful kitchen decoration.
  • Gift cards:As we mentioned above, gift cards are great no matter how much you spend on them.
  • College flair:For high school grads going off to college, university clothing, houseware, and other items make an inexpensive but thoughtful gift.
  • College prep books:High school grads will love anything that preps them for college. Books about preparing for college roommate issues, life on campus, love, dating, friendships, etc. Anything goes!
  • ASK THEM:They’re going to need something for their dorm or new apartment, so just ask them! Kids tend to be shy though, so insist on getting them something even if they tell you they don’t need anything.
Graduation brown cap
How much should you give:
Cash gifts tend to be anywhere from $25–$50 for a friend’s or a colleague’s kids.

Practical Gifts vs. Personalized Gifts

Most people think grads want personalized gifts, but for the most part, grads are more concerned with practicality. Here’s why highly functional gifts are better than that plaque with their name on it.

Practical Gifts
  • Multipurpose
  • Make life better
  • Help them build skills or improve their life
  • Reduce stress
  • Offer unlimited entertainment
Personalized Gifts
  • Single purpose
  • Can’t be used often
  • Have little practical value
  • Rarely improve life

So next time you want to get them a plaque with their name on it, remember that they care more about functionality than anything else!

Graduation day is the celebration of taking the next step in life. Actually, the word “graduation” comes from the Latin gradus, meaning “step.” You absolutely HAVE TO celebrate this day.

Call it important, call it epic, call it whatever you want—it’s significant to celebrate this accomplishment. It is the culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and sleep deprivation. You deserve it. In 10, 20, or even 30 years, you’ll look back to this day with pride.


Why Is Graduation Day So Important?

Graduation brown cap
A Tip for Friends and Family:
Make your grad’s big day special by sharing it with them (within reason!). Show up on time and be a big support. Whoop and holler, tell them how proud you are, snap selfies, shower them in affection on social media—do whatever you have to do. Just don’t go too crazy!

What Do Europe’s Oldest Universities and Ancient Rome Have to Do with Your Graduation?

University studies were conducted almost completely in Latin during medieval times. Traditionally, these universities offered degrees to students in several steps.

The first step was the baccalaureate and the second was masters (giving you the right to teach). This is where the term “graduation” comes from (remember what we said about steps!).

History in Europe and Rome

Because Latin was the language of scholarship, students were expected to give a sermon in it to prove their scholarly ability (upon completion of their bachelor’s degree). Because the clergy and university staff were so closely intertwined (as were the church and education system at the time), the hood and gown our modern grads wear are very closely related to what the medieval clergy wore.

Since the first American and Canadian universities were founded by immigrants from Great Britain, our education systems are very closely related, hence our graduation system from universities (and high school and even kindergarten these days #SMH). So when you put on your cap and gown, remember

Just graduated from high school? Check out these awesome apps that will make you more productive in college.

Graduation Day Symbols Explained

Over the centuries, this special day has developed a number of very important, traditional symbols (What’s with those tassels, anyway?). Here’s a brief overview of the most important ones (in case your employer ever quizzes you on ancient clerical traditions before you start your underpaid position).

Graduation Stoles:


Stoles (that sash you wear) actually predate the cap-and-gown outfit that you’re so familiar with. These sashes were worn by the clergy to denote their position, and this tradition was passed on to students (most of whom were aspiring clergy). Each institution chooses its own criteria for stoles, but they are usually worn to show off your department, degree, honors, etc. They can even show off a fraternity or your graduating honors. Tradition holds the following colors and meanings:

  • White: Humanities, Arts, and English
  • Beige: Business
  • Green: Medicine
  • Brown: Fine Arts and Architecture
  • Yellow: Science and Math
  • Dark Blue: Philosophy and Political Science

Graduation Honors:


Graduation comes with a lot of funky names, most of which none of us can pronounce correctly. Each signifies your level of achievement during your studies.

  • Cum laude: “With praise or honor” is given usually to the top 20%–30% of graduates.
  • Magna cum laude: “With great honor or praise” is awarded to about the top 10%.
  • Summa cum laude: “With the highest honor or praise” is awarded to the super geniuses (top 1% or so).

Graduation Caps:


Graduation caps, also known as mortarboards due to their resemblance to the common masonry tool, are descended from the berettas worn by educated people during the medieval times. Red berettas were worn by the clergy, students, scholars, artists, etc. to signify their intelligence. Your cap is a symbol of your ascension to being one of the educated people in the world (a.k.a. people good at Googling things). Fun fact: That gown you have to wear is descended from gowns students wore because it was cold in the building. Seriously ...

The Diploma:


Ahhhh, the diploma. Sweet relief. This is what you have worked so hard for, right? This little piece of paper actually originated in the United States. Harvard issued the first diploma (Latin for “very expensive piece of paper.” Kidding. It means “double-folded paper.”) in the 19th century. Before that, you had to pay the president of the college to sign proof that you had a degree ... in LATIN.

Young graduates are working harder and earning less, according to most market studies. Job markets are cutthroat and student debt isn’t helping. Issues facing today’s grads range from simply not having the right skills for today’s burgeoning tech fields to not even understanding which soft skills they possess.


How to Help the Grad in Your Life

Still, there are plenty of opportunities to succeed and make a real difference. The world might be more complicated now than it has ever been, but that’s no reason to be cynical. Most grads go on to find amazing careers, achieving all you had hoped and more.

Understand What They Are Going Through

At the very least, try to speak the same language as them (a.k.a. memes). Know what they are up against:

  • Student debt
  • A tough job market
  • International competition
  • More college grads than ever
  • A more complex and confusing society
  • A world that changes at the speed of light

Of course, your grad also has a lot of opportunities you never could have dreamed of. Imagine what you could have done if you’d had a smartphone as a kid (Actually, it was probably better that you didn’t!).

Graduation brown cap
Help steer them toward the websites with the best jobs. The best job boards are as follows:

Plan The Perfect Party

Speaking of stress and a bleak outlook on life, it’s time to get the family together.

Don’t worry, we’ve got a simple method for planning a party worthy of this occasion without all of the stress and headache. Just follow a few simple steps and your party will be AWESOME.

Start planning early:

Start planning two to three months in advance. If you are having something formal, call around and ask venues. If it’s going to be in your backyard, at the very least start making a budget (include food, drinks, accessories, games, etc.). This is also a good time to send out announcements. Planning a graduation party months out is the best way to make sure it goes off without a hitch.

Talk to your grad:

They should probably have a say in all of this. Ask them what kind of party they want, which friends they want to invite, and where they want to have it. Decide now if you’re going to have a family BBQ, a Star Wars–themed party (dibs on the Chewie costume), a formal dinner, etc.

Get on the horn:

Start making phone calls six to eight weeks before the party. Talk to local restaurants (your grad should let you know their favorite—actually, you should already know, shouldn’t you?), and see if they can cater. Be sure to call everyone that’s invited and let them know the time and place.

Order supplies:

About four to six weeks before the party is when things really heat up. Order decorations (if they’re going to college, get college decorations), supplies, food, etc. Shop online and allow enough time to ship.

Make a guest list and hope for the best:

About one to two weeks before the party, finalize the guest list based on RSVPs. If you’re catering the party yourself, head out and get whatever you need for food. Now is when you jump to Facebook and Instagram and start bragging about how great your party is going to be.

The Perfect Graduation Gift

Graduation is a time to be exuberant, proud, excited, and totally stressed out beyond imagination about getting a gift.

Perfect gifts

Grads are entering a new period in life. Whether they are graduating from high school, college, or kindergarten (elementary school loans are coming soon), they’re going to need something they can use in the next stage of life.

A high school grad will LOVE a new laptop to use in the dorm and HATE getting a new jacket. College grads love the green (we’re talking money here) and throw out personalized shower flip-flops (What were you thinking, Aunt May?)

Think about the challenges of their next stage in life and get them something that will help them take on the world.

Graduation brown cap
Did you know?
The average American spends $98 on a graduation gift.
Don’t go overboard!
Do You Even Need to Give a Gift?

“It’s always better to give than to receive,” says someone who has lots of money

There’s no better feeling at this time than giving a grad something that will help them in the next stage in life. That is, if you actually have the money to give something.

Just because you know a grad doesn’t mean you have to get them something. And just because you received a notice of commencement doesn’t mean you are obligated to give a gift.

Surprise Here are some people that definitely MUST give a gift:

  • Immediate family
  • Close family friends
  • Anyone who is invited to the party

If you show up to the party, then don’t show up empty-handed. Something as simple as a card and some cash will do fine. Just give whatever you can afford.

The amount you spend depends on your relationship. Generally, the closer you are to the grad, the more you should give. For example, an aunt or uncle might give a small gift card while a grandparent might give a blank check.

If the gifts above haven’t jumped off the page at you, consider some of these gift ideas. We’ve talked to real grads and read post-grad studies in which former students said which gifts they loved the most.


Graduation Gift Ideas

for Guys and Girls

Graduation Gifts for Her

She’s lovely, bubbly, and ambitious, and she’s about to realize the real world is a lot harder than she thought it would be. Talk to any recent grad and she’ll tell you it’s all about making post-grad life easier (She’s going to be stressed enough!).

Get her something that will make a tangible difference!
Here’s what recent girl grads said were their favorite graduation gifts:

Quote from Charles Schulz
A live streaming/entertainment subscription:

The real world is going to be tough, so giving her the ability to binge-watch her favorite shows, spend her spare cash on things she really shouldn’t be buying, and access to all her favorite books on Kindle will make a HUGE difference. The next time she says “I love you,” she’ll mean it.

Quote from Peter Andre
An instant coffee maker:

This one seems strange at first—until you realize her next stage in life will basically be 10-hour days fueled only by ground-up beans and hot water. Don’t let her spend her hard-earned money on overpriced coffee. Put hundreds of dollars back in her pocket and easily an hour of her time back too (don’t get us started on the line at Starbucks in the morning).

Quote from Maya Angelou
Birthstone jewelry:

A stunning birthstone necklace is the perfect accessory to a professional outfit. This gift shows a lot of thought (it’s custom to her) and is highly practical (saves her money and gives her something to wear out). If a birthstone isn’t her thing, how about a beautiful gold-dipped matching jewelry set that’s perfect for a night out?

Quote from David Kirch
A health food delivery subscription:

Chances are she won’t have time to cook much, and she won’t have the funds to eat healthily. There are plenty of food services that deliver healthy ingredients and step-by-step instructions on how to make meals. The best companies even portion meals out in healthy amounts! She will love it.

Quote from Amity Shlaes
Smart speakers:

Smart speakers are the latest, fastest-growing smart product on the market. Give her the gift of living in a sci-fi fantasy world and controlling her house with the sound of her voice. Smart speakers are devices with a personal assistant built in. You can shout at them and they do whatever you command (turn on the lights, for example). AMAZING!

Slider for her goto next Slider for her goto previous
Graduation brown cap
If she’s going into a more formal work field like finance or academia, a pair of business-time earrings in 24K gold leaf will be the perfect complement to her formal business attire.

Graduation Gifts for Him

He’s charming, talented, and ready to make his mark on the world—he just doesn’t have ANY money or ANY clue what life is about. Guys are after the same post-graduation stuff as girls: functional gifts that improve their lives.

Here’s what guy grads said were their favorite graduation gifts:

Sleek watch
A sleek watch:

Traditional, powerful, business-type watches used to be expensive. But now, there are exciting startups completely changing the game. You can get your son an intimidating I-know-what-I-want watch for around $200 these days.

Noise-canceling headphones:

Headphones can get expensive ($200-$300), but he’ll get a lot of miles out of them. Whether it’s on the train, at the park, at the gym, or just at home, he’ll be able to pull all-nighters in peace with great headphones.

Athletic accessories
Athletic accessories:

If he’s active, he’ll love anything fitness related. How about a gym membership, moisture-wicking athletic wear, a pair of running shoes, or even a set of golf clubs? Oh, and if he’s a golfer, he’ll love a gold-dipped golf ball and tee set for the home or office.

Shaving service
On-demand shaving services:

Five o’clock shadows are fine these days, just as long as they are kept neat and tidy. Shaving services let them order razors and accessories via text or e-mail and have them delivered within a day or two. That’ll keep his face neat and tidy for his next job interview (or date night!).

Quote from Amity Shlaes
A suave wallet:

Nothing screams sophistication like a suave wallet. Get him something he can show with pride. There are dozens of great custom wallet manufacturers. If that’s not your taste, just go with the traditional giants of the industry.

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The perfect desk decoration:
If your grad has already landed a job, these gold-dipped poker cards will look AWESOME on his desk.

The speeches are finished. The degree is in your hands. The world is now your oyster . . . so what’s next?

There are so many options. So many people and institutions are pulling you in every direction that it’s hard to figure out what to do.

Keep in mind that you are still young. You won’t be able to change the world right off the bat. Your goal should be to enjoy being young while still setting yourself up for future success. Here’s how to do it.


What to Do after Graduation

For High School Grads

College is going to be the most fun and exciting part of your life. But you aren’t there yet. Here’s what to do between graduation and fall semester to maximize your fun AND your chances of success at the next step:

Spend quality time with each other:


This comes first and foremost. You might be anxious (and scared) to leave the nest, but this will be your first extended time away from your family. You might even be across the country from one another! For parents, try not to coddle your grads, but let them know you’d like to see them as much as possible. Plan a family trip, go to the movies together, go to dinner—whatever you need to do to spend some time together.

Apply for scholarships:


There are hundreds of scholarships available for students from all walks of life. Regardless of your income, background, or abilities, there may be a program to help reduce college tuition or give you a full ride. Talk to your high school guidance counselor, talk to a teacher, look online, and ask local universities. There’s plenty of information available. The harder you search, the better your chance will be to save tens of thousands of dollars (Have you seen textbook prices?). The best resources online are Big Future’s board (the makers of the SAT) and StudentScholarship.org.



You’ve got a few months off, so why not travel close to home? It might even help you become more well-rounded as a person (we’ll cover post-college travel in the next section). Take a road trip with your friends, hang out at a beach house, or just go to a state park in the neighboring state for a few days.

Shop For College:


Parents, this is for you. Make a checklist of everything your grad will need at college and hit the stores. Notebooks, pens, books, furniture—you name it. It’s time for a shopping spree. It’s important to consider renting textbooks instead of buying. Here’s a great NY Times article detailing the

Graduation brown cap
Did you know?
Around 66% of college students receive gift aid for college? And the three largest providers are the federal government, the colleges themselves, and the individual states?

For College Grads

Adjusting to life after four years of study (or five for some of us) isn’t easy.

Commencement signifies the starting of a new chapter of your life. What that chapter is about is totally up to you.

Unsure of what to do after college? Here are 15 great ideas for what to do instead of getting a real job.

If you're like the majority of college grads, you have no clue what to do with life and all of the knowledge you’ve acquired. Whichever path you choose, make sure it’s what you want in life. You don’t get a chance to do it again!

Here are a few common plots to the next chapter of your story:

Take a gap year:


Gap years aren’t just for students that want to let loose and party in an exotic place for 12 straight months. Sure, have fun and be free, but a gap year can improve your resume and build real-life skills. If you manage to travel on your own for a year, it shows that you understand budgeting, planning, self-discipline (at least before the club opens), and problem-solving skills. Seeing the world will make you a more well-rounded human being (and employee).

Start searching for jobs:


The market is as competitive as it’s ever been, but there are also more ways to find a job than ever before. Shore up your online profiles, use social media for outreach, search job boards, use your personal network, and even ask your parents to talk to their friends! Don’t forget that one of the best resources for finding a job is your university! Talk to counselors and the alumni association for recommendations and advice.

Continue your studies:


What could be more fun after four years of study than studying more? Jokes aside, pursuing a master’s degree is a great way to set yourself apart from other job candidates. Some careers even require it. However, make sure you do it for the right reasons and not just to avoid getting a real job.



Offering your time to causes that actually matter is both rewarding and practical. Animal shelters, public programs, schools, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, tutoring centers—there’s an endless number of good causes that need your help. If you want your life to have meaning and purpose, volunteering is a great way to build your resume, gain life experience, and help others in need.

If you haven’t already closed the window and started shopping, we want to leave you with a few words of wisdom.

Party Graduation is a monumental day, but it’s one of the few moments in life that grows in importance the further it fades in our memories. Remember, treat this day with respect, gratitude, and love, but don’t forget that it’s just the beginning of a long, fruitful journey.

If you need a gift to match the magnitude of this day, focus on functionality and practicality over novelty or romanticism. Or, you know, just cut a blank check. Whatever works for you! The best graduation gifts are the ones that will make their next stage in life easier. Don’t overthink things!