Practical Gift Ideas to Prepare Your High School Grad for College Life
Here at Savvy, all featured products are thoughtfully handpicked by our section editors. When you purchase something from our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. One last note — any items listed below are in-stock with accurate pricing as of time of publication.
Between virtual classes, postponed athletics and canceled dances, the high school class of 2021 endured a senior year unlike any in recent memory. But now that the hard-earned diploma is finally in hand, it’s time to look ahead to brighter days on the horizon. For many, that means enrolling in college and starting the next exciting chapter in life.
Take this opportunity to celebrate the recent grad in your life by getting them something useful and practical to aid their transition into college life. Kohl’s offers a special Back to College section to help students gather the necessities. Be sure to also be on the lookout for Back to School sales from your favorite retailers. These typically start around July and run through August, but sometimes you’ll find something even sooner! To assist your grad gift search, we’ve compiled this handy guide that includes versatile electronics for study or play, dorm room kitchen essentials, space-saving organizers, and a few items to help them relax.
Price: $59.99 at Best Buy
A portable charger is clutch for jam-packed days on campus or those spur-of-the-moment excursions. This charger from Anker can rapidly charge two devices at the same time, and has a USB-C port to accommodate the latest iPhone and Android devices.
Price: $349.99 $298 at Best Buy
You can probably imagine (or remember) what it’s like trying to focus in a crowded library or a noisy dorm room. These wireless noise-cancelling headphones from Sony are perfect for listening to music or silencing the surrounding hubbub, and their 30-hour battery life can handle those all-night study sessions.
Price: $899.99 at Best Buy
Your grad will love the versatility of the latest iPad Pro. They can take it to class and use it in place of a laptop, chat with family and friends on FaceTime, or watch their favorite shows in their dorm room. Aspiring creatives or designers will likely want to add the Apple Pencil for sketching and drawing. This package also includes six months of free Apple Music and a three-month subscription of Trend Micro Internet Security.
Price: $24.23 at Walmart
The Magic Bullet Mini Blender from Walmart is great for morning juices or after-gym smoothies. It can also whip up a mean salsa or guac for an afternoon get-together. This blender comes with two cup sizes (the smaller size is especially useful when on-the-go.) And its compact design won’t take up space in the kitchen or dorm.
Price: $26.99 at Kohl’s
Making coffee is easier with this 8-Cup French press made by Primula. Just pour in the desired amount of coffee grounds, add hot water and wait a few minutes for the coffee to steep. The best part? No filters are necessary, and clean-up is a breeze.
Price: $39.99 at Kohl’s
If your grad is about to embark on dorm life, there’s a good chance they won’t have regular access to a stove. This makes the electric kettle a crucial item for their culinary repertoire. The 1.7-Liter option from Hamilton Beach is an ideal companion to the aforementioned French press. It’s a must-have for brewing tea, too. And, of course, ramen noodles.
Price: $18.50 $9.47 at Walmart
For those students without a kitchen, this pared-down portable cutlery set will cover any situation without taking up unnecessary space. And the stainless-steel material offers a more stylish and environmentally-friendly alternative to disposable plastic. In addition to a fork, knife, and spoon, the 9-piece set comes with a pair of chopsticks, three straws, and a cleaning brush.
Price: $35.00 at Walmart
College can be stressful. Show your grad you’re looking out for their well-being with this diffuser and essential oil set. The essential oils and ambient light modes will help them to relax and soothe their mind, while the natural fragrances will work to freshen up their living space.
Price: $79.99 at Kohl’s, Buy one get one 1/2 off
According to Healthline, weighted blankets relax the nervous system by mimicking a therapeutic technique called deep pressure stimulation. This stimulation can relieve pain, lessen anxiety, and improve mood. Since you can’t always be there for a tough situation, get this blanket to help support them through a temporary bout of stress or loneliness.
Price: $119.99 at Best Buy
Bust out the tunes for an impromptu dance-off in the dorm, or bring it to a picnic out on the campus green. This portable speaker from JBL is lightweight and can easily be carried to any social gathering, while its 12-hour battery life ensures your grad can successfully play DJ throughout the whole day. For huge price cuts, don’t forget to be on the lookout for Best Buy discount codes!
Price: $24.99 at Kohl’s
Closet space is hard to come by for college freshmen. This storage bag is made to fit underneath the bed and is perfect for clothes, towels, or extra bedding. The dual handles make it easy to pull out, while the viewing window helps your grad remember what’s inside!
Price: $34.99 at Kohl’s
Next on our space-saving college tour is this over-the-door shoe organizer. Your grad will be able to hold up to twelve shoes without having to sacrifice the limited area in their closet or bedroom. It’s also an effective way to keep every shoe in one place (as opposed to scattered across the floor).
Price: $24.98 $15.98 at Lowe’s
You may garner a few eye-rolls upon presenting, but your grad will thank you the first time a screw comes loose or they want to hang up a picture. Sold at Lowe’s, this 19-piece tool set from Project Source has all they need for any simple DIY project, including a 6-in-1 screwdriver, 12-oz fiberglass hammer, scissors, measuring tape, pliers, adjustable wrench, and six metric hex keys (also known as Allen wrenches).
Price: $5.00 - $300.00 at Kohl’s
Despite best intentions, there’s always a chance your well thought out grad gift will be met by the sound of crickets or a dull “thanks." For items like clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories, sometimes it’s best to leave the style choices to the grad. A gift card, like this one from Kohl’s, is a fantastic way to say congrats and show your support without buying them something that went out of style ten years ago.