Graduation gift ideas revisited – creative ways to say congrats to every grad

By Lee Shulman Bierer, College Admissions Strategies – Founder

So cash may be still be king when it comes to what high school grads want to see when they open their graduation cards, but if you’re interested in a spark of creativity or trying to personalize your gifts here are some fun suggestions.

Keeping them connected

Students are constantly connected electronically, so most anything that will make that make that connection easier, faster, safer and more convenient will be appreciated.

Mophie Juice Pack Reserve – this is an iPhone and iPod charger that students can carry on their key chains. It can be used when they run into a situation where they find themselves with a low-battery and  a must-have app download or photo that can’t wait. Prices starting at $34.95,

Headphones for sleeping – One of the toughest adjustments for most freshmen is adapting to a roommate’s sleeping/working/partying schedule. The headphones are earphones that are designed for sleeping with foam covered speakers that lie flat against your ears. There’s even a free app with the product that turns the music off when they fall asleep. – Prices starting at $89.95

Card iPhone Case – What else does  a student need besides their phone, their student ID and a credit or debit card? Not much. This handy case has room for three cards. $39.95,

Keeping them green, comfortable, safe and clean

Create your own “Off to college” survival kits – These are a great idea if you are industrious, frugal and have multiple gifts to purchase. Some items you might include:

  • Keeping them clean – put together a laundry basket with the supplies they’ll need to do their own laundry; soap, a roll of quarters, stain remover, fabric softener, etc.
  • Satisfying their snack urges – design your own basket filled with their favorite candies, snacks, and gift cards to their favorite coffee shops and restaurants.
  • Keeping them healthy — purchase a hot pot for cooking their favorite cereal, soups, snacks, hot cocoa, etc. Personalize it even more by adding a hand-compiled recipe book of simple things they can make with limited kitchen resources.
  • Keeping them safe First Aid Kit. You can buy one ready-made
    or put together a kit yourself.  Include bandages, anti-bacterial cleansing wipes, Advil, Neosporin, Benedryl, matches, tape, gauze, scissors.
  • Fixing them up – A tool kit – Get them a basic tool kit that includes a hammer and screwdriver, or find a kit with a little of everything.  There is even a pink one for girls.

Design your own dorm space – Dormify ( offers creative ways for students to design their own dorm room. Mix and match the pieces until you find your perfect style. Visit the site and pick out the basics and then a curated list of accent pieces to personalize your living space. If you want more personalized advice, schedule one of the free facetime stying appointments  ( )where they will help you and your roomie design a dorm room that fits both of you.


Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:;