My View: 8 practical graduation gifts
May 21st, 2012
03:33 PM ET

My View: 8 practical graduation gifts

Couture MotionBy Andrea Woroch, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. You can follow her on Twitter @AndreaWoroch for daily savings advice and tips.

Graduation marks a pivotal moment in every college student’s life as he or she says good bye to carefree school days and enters the real world. Making the transition into responsible adulthood has never been easy, but hefty student loans and a lackluster job market makes it more difficult for our younger generation than ever. With so many money worries to face, a thoughtful graduation gift could make all the difference.

Here are several practical gift ideas to help college grads get a kickstart on post-academic life.

1.  A Check

Money is a much appreciated gift as most college grads leave school with surmounting debt and bills to pay. In fact, student debt in the U.S. has peaked at nearly $1 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and that scary figure is sure to haunt young professionals for years to come. Consider giving a check towards the principal of the grad’s student loan or credit card.

2. Gift Cards

Recent grads face lots of new expenses, whether living on their own or traveling for job interviews. Creating an online gift card registry at will help family and friends find the most preferred gift cards to curb everyday expenses whether for restaurants, department stores, supermarkets or gas stations.

3. Moving Services

Four years of college ensures that your grad has accumulated a lot of clutter. Moving home or into a first apartment is an expense that many overlook, however, the cost of a truck, gas, boxes and the movers themselves can get extremely pricey. Consider contributing to the move by picking up the tab for the truck and provide assistance with loading or unloading boxes and furniture.

4. Professional Clothes

Though some Web developers could get away with sporting their senior-year attire to the office, ripped jeans and sneakers won’t cut it for professional positions. A work-appropriate wardrobe is essential for anyone going on interviews or starting a first job. A new suit, pair of slacks, button down and sleek shoes make a great gift for any grad.

5. Leather Portfolio

It’s common knowledge that every job candidate should bring his or her resume to an interview even if it’s been submitted via email. Presenting an unwrinkled resume shows that that the interviewee cares about appearance and that surely won’t go unnoticed. Give your grad a sleek leather portfolio to house that valued resume.

6. Financial Education

Many college students know little about finances upon graduation even though they carry unmanageable debt and have little resources for money to pay it off. Help them start post-grad life a step ahead of the rest with a financial planning session. An experienced adviser will provide invaluable lessons about budgeting and paying down debt. Otherwise, consider a course on money management at a local community college.

7. Personal Finance Magazine

Another alternative to providing financial education is sending a subscription to a popular personal finance magazine like “Young Money” or “Kiplinger Personal Finance.” These magazines are filled with information about investing, saving, real estate, debt management and more.

8. Online Movie Subscriptions

Online subscriptions to sites like Hulu Plus or Netflix provides access to favorite shows, movies and new releases without the high price of cable or movie channels like HBO. These online video streaming services can be accessed via a computer or laptop, smartphone, tablet, gaming console or directly on a TV for easy viewing and cost just $7.99 per month. Buy a one-year subscription as a gift so your grad has one less monthly bill to foot.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Andrea Woroch.

Posted by
Filed under: College • Graduation • Voices
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Dan

    Gift cards, checks, and clothes – I wish I was graduating again! For some unique gift ideas that may not be as practical, but are certainly useful, check out

    May 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  2. Micheal Sandhurst

    Making the transition into responsible adulthood – "rightyo Dougie, I've bought you a basic Tracfone. I know by the look on your face that you're a little surprised, but It encompasses everything in life that is ergonomic, cheap, and necessary to tackle the next step. As you climb the following hurdle of life, you will probably want to get an upgrade – good for you! But don't forget the tracfone that helped you negate the first hurdle, will also assist with the second. Your Mom, and myself love you dearly, and she especially will miss you. So, good luck, do well, get a job, and we'll see you then. And you can show me your upgrade."

    May 28, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  3. Hip-Hop

    I will immediately grasp your rss as I can't in finding your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly permit me recognize so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

    May 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  4. Michelle

    I give high school grads a big storage bin full of cleaning supplies and a shoebox-sized one full of candy.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  5. Jackie Wilson's Supervisor

    So alcohol is off limits as a graduation gift?

    May 23, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  6. E. H.

    I like how #4 assumes that only men are graduating from college, or at least that they are the only new grads who will be entering the professional world.

    May 23, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • Sara M.

      Why do you assume that only men wear suits?

      May 23, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Dan

      Because women shouldn't show up to an interview in a suit or go to work wearing a nice shirt and pants?

      May 23, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Jackie Wilson's Supervisor

      Read that bullet point again. Nowhere does it mention gender.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • hh

      I like how you assume only men can wear suits and sensible business shoes.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • shebakescakes

      I am pretty sure it says his or her. I myself am a female and would have appreciated a gift of a leather portfolio to carry my resumes in.

      May 23, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  7. brianbartes

    I like 6 and 7, given the challenges our society has in the area of personal finance. Also, books are great graduation gifts, to instill the importance of continuous learning. One I highly recommend for graduates is Life Lessons: A Guide to Creating and Living Your Best Life.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:17 am |
  8. Katie

    Let's see – forget the leather portfolio. Most places will send you online to submit your resume, and you will be very lucky if they will take your call when you follow up. Interview? Maybe if you are an experienced professional seeking a new job or if you have a law degree or a medical degree, but I sincerely doubt a college grad is going to have to worry about the image a leather portfolio presents.

    Gift cards are nice but ridiculously impersonal – they say "Here, I want you to go pick out your own gift at this place because I don't know what you want or like."

    Subscription to Netflix?? Seriously? Most kids today know how to find the movies they want to see for free.

    Good luck with the clothing – you'll be lucky if they really wear it. I see the point, but honestly, are you going to spring $500 for a decent suit? And for women, a good pair of shoes could be outrageously expensive.

    A check is probably the only good option for a college grad. They will appreciate the money for so many different reasons.

    Now, for a nursing grad, a good stethoscope is nice. For a female lawyer, get good jewelry – a string of pearls, a nice gold necklace, something elegant that goes with everything. I-phones or blackberries and paying for the service for an amount of time are very much appreciated as well. Otherwise – money. They will have bills and loans and immediate needs for everything from clothing to housing. Or, if you're rich – get the post-college grad a car.

    High school grads should get a small check, maybe a dorm fridge if they're going to college.

    8th graders should get an even smaller check, and they would probably appreciate a gift card to the local mall.

    Below eighth grade nobody needs a big ceremony or presents for any 'graduation.'

    May 22, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Brittany

      Coming into an interview with a portfolio shows you mean business, no matter how old you are. Doesn't matter if you're applying for your 1st job or your 20th.

      I had a friend one year who requested nothing but gift cards to the local gas station because she was driving so much for her jobs – how is that impersonal? It's practical and it's what she wanted.

      I don't even think 8th graders should get a, you made it to high's four more years – good luck!

      May 23, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • katem0nster

      I have interviewed a lot of recent college grads over the last year for professional positions in a formal office, and I most certainly appreciate when they show up in a nice suit or professional attire, and bring a copy of their resume. Extra points if they have a portfolio (leather or otherwise) to carry their resume, have written down questions they wanted to ask, and take notes during the interview. So, no, don't forget the portfolio, and taking them out to buy a nice suit if they don't have one is a great way to give them a leg up on other college grads that think it's okay to show up to an interview in jeans.

      May 23, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  9. peninsula p

    A paper resume??? What decade is it? That's as dated as giving a pen set. I do like the Hulu subscription – that will keep 'em out of trouble, at least.

    May 22, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  10. Jerry

    How about a European vacation after graduation?

    May 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  11. Jay

    Give a NONLEATHER portfolio to show you're both educated and humane.

    May 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • jk

      make it snakeskin or alligator to let your interviewer know that your not a tree hugger

      May 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
      • Lulu

        You didn't graduate. Learn the difference between your and you're.

        May 22, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  12. Crandal

    Ah, college . Best 9 years of my life. MY LIFE.

    May 22, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  13. pwalker


    May 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Stumbly goat

      Get good grades? You did see these were graduation gifts, right? And based on the suggestions and the current time of year, it sounds like they are college graduation gift idea. For most of them, they are done getting grade.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  14. Bill

    cardboard box with a screen door for the coming depression

    May 22, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  15. Joe

    7 practical gifts. The 8th? I see little practicality or benefit.

    May 22, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Sue C.

      I guess they figure they need to have some fun too. Relaxation is also important.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm |