Riley Heruska
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It’s that time of year again. *cue that Alice Cooper song* Kids are rejoicing in their newfound freedom and college students are abandoning their dorms to move back home. Some twenty-somethings are even celebrating the end of their educational careers. You know what that means: graduation parties, ceremonies, and of course, presents for the new grads.

As easy as it would be to hand the successful students a simple Target gift card and call it a day, that often feels like a half-hearted cop out. The question is, what does the average college grad really want, or more importantly, need? Well, you’re in luck, because I am a recent grad, and I can tell you exactly what most of us would appreciate.

Kitchen Ware

Sure, most college grads have been cooking on their own for some time now, but can we really call it cooking? Most students’ repertoire consists of heating up microwavable meals and maybe making a passable grilled cheese. Chances are, they own a frying pan, some cheap knives, silverware, and plastic cups. Now that they’re a “real” adult, they’ll need things like sturdy pots and pans or knives that don’t threaten to snap if you press too hard. It might not be the most exciting gift, but grads will get a lot of value out of some quality kitchen appliances.

Sturdy Piece of Furniture

If your grad is planning to move into their own pad soon, then there are probably a LOT of Ikea trips in their near future. Now, don’t get me wrong, Ikea is a fantastic place to shop when you’re first furnishing an apartment, but anyone would be appreciative of one or two pieces that are higher quality. Consider buying them a nice couch or a bed frame that won’t shudder every time they sit on their mattress. Not only will it scratch an item off of their shopping list, but it will make them feel a little more like a successful adult in their new living space.

Assistance With Debt

The average 2016 graduate had about $37,172 worth of loans after finishing college. That’s probably a huge chunk of their first-year salary (assuming they start working right away), and chances are, they won’t chip away at it too much in the near future. It’s a burden they’ll think about often, though, and any contribution to their debt will help lighten the load.

High-Quality Purse or Wallet

Please, please don’t let your grad be one of those people who still uses a velcro wallet once they enter the real world. Sure, in college everyone pretty much just stuck wads of cash in their pockets or kept their credit card and student ID on a lanyard, but those times are over. More often than not, new grads won’t want to shell out the cash for a luxury wallet or bag, but you can help. Remember, it’s not about the price, it’s about the quality.

Subscription to LinkedIn Premium

This is a great idea for college grads who are still on the job hunt. My dad kindly purchased me a LinkedIn premium account when I was searching for a job, and it really expanded my networking capabilities. Every new grad should be attempting to build a social presence in the business world, and this is a great way to give them a leg up on the competition.

Contribution Towards Traveling

For the first time in their lives, college grads are going to have something called “free time.” Trust me, it’ll be surprisingly exciting for them after spending the past few years fretting over homework and exams. Weekends are suddenly open, and chances are, your grad is going to want to spread their wings a little. You don’t have to book them an expensive trip or anything, but you could always buy them a plane ticket or even a sturdy suitcase to encourage their travel dreams.

Business Attire

Although most grads could use a gift card to pretty much any store, they often underestimate how much clothes shopping they might need to do in the near future. As I started interviewing for positions and then working in the business world, I realized that my uniform of jeans and a cute top wasn’t always going to cut it. I easily dropped a couple hundred dollars on heels, blazers, and other business attire staples. I would have jumped for joy if someone had gifted me with a card to Banana Republic. If you’re looking to purchase them something a little more timeless, a nice watch is always a good choice. 

Honestly, your college grad will be appreciative of whatever you get them, but it’s always a good idea to really think about what they could use. Sure, shot glasses with funny sayings or personalized necklaces are fun, but they won’t help them start their new lives. If you really want them to value your present, then try to think a little more long-term.

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