College Graduation Gift from Parents

Updated on April 30, 2013
M.M. asks from Houston, TX
26 answers

What did your parents give you for college graduation? Graduation is just two weeks away and I still don't know what to give my son. I want to acknowledge this accomplishment is a significant way, but can't think of the right thing.

He doesn't have a job yet, and is not 100% clear in the type of work he will be doing, so something career related isn't a good option. His grandparents are taking him shopping for job interview clothes...and general wardrobe updating clothes after 4 years of t-shirts and jeans.

I had hoped that I would be able to get him a car when he graduated, but that is not an option. My other dream was a major family "dream" vacation to celebrate, but a family medical crisis makes that not possible.

I'm open to all suggestions, sentimental, technological, practical, impractical. There have been numerous serious family upsets (deaths, etc) during his college years, and he has gotten his degree in 4 years in spite of it all. I am desperate to give him something to show him how proud I am and reward his accomplishment.

What can I do next?

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answers from Minneapolis on

1983. My parents took me to lunch, and gave me $300 for a deposit on a first apartment. I bought my own interview suit with tips from my waitress job (took all summer to earn enough tips).

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

My mother took me on a trip to Ireland. We were not wealthy people by any stretch of the imagination, she just knew I had always wanted to go, she had already been, plus she didn't have to pay a cent for my education, so there it is.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

My parents bought me a set of luggage. I think it may have been a hint to move out. I really would have appreciated a trip to Vegas along with the luggage.

ETA: I already had a car...

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

Back in my day we would get a pen. When did kids start needing to get lavished with "stuff" over every accomplishment?

Just my opinion: college graduation is its own reward. You don't need to get your child something extravagant to reward him. Graduation is the culmination of his hard work, and his degree is his reward.

If you were rich, and wanted to get him a car, then you could do that. However something as small as a card with some meaningful words telling him how proud you are, and dinner afterward, will suffice, if that's all your life allows right now.

Others can give you more creative ideas.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My parents through a party for me as a gift. They had already paid for my college so I graduated debt free which I think is the best gift ever.
If he has loans, how about paying off as much as you can. College cost a lot more now than it did when I went to school.

Edit I bought my parents what was considered a big screen TV back then as a thank you gift. I also wrote letters to my aunts and uncle and grandparents that were so supportive during my college years.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

What is the state of and condition of his technology? New laptops have really come down in price and if he still has the computer he started college with, it is probably out of date. I would also write a letter telling him how proud you are of him for finishing his degree despite all of the upsets over his college career. You could also encourage him to use the services at the colleges to write a really good resume and some cover letters. Congratulations to your son and to you!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

If you can afford the trip, can he go with a best friend ?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

My dad gave me a car. I gave my daughter half a car with my dad giving her the other half.

A lot of my friends gave money to put down on a car.

We seem a bit car obsessed don't we?

Really though it should just be something to say, starting your life here. I usually add do you need help packing but I am evil like that. You would be amazed how little you can fit in a Prius! :(

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think college was a great gift. Nice dinner out to celebrate.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My parents took me out to dinner.

Visa gift cards, Gas cards, Grocery store cards.... will he be living on his own or moving back home. Maybe some new 'grown up' bedding? A nice desk for his place (IKEA)?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Our daughter graduated far away.. We attended the celebrations for a whole week and made it as fun as possible. Took her friends out for different meals. Attended all of the events, with the grandparents.

This is what she wanted. It was not inexpensive.


answers from Washington DC on

My parents asked me what I wanted. For my undergrad, I got a right hand diamond ring. I had my eyes on it for several years and get many compliments on it now. I wear it every day and have since I graduated in 2005.

I completed my MBA this past August and they got me an upgraded DSLR camera. My husband got me the D40 for a Mother's Day gift several years and I loved it! But I wanted something that I can do more with. So my parents got me the D5100 for my graduate gift.

My brother graduated with his undergrad last spring and he opted for a weeklong FAMILY vacation in OBX. Any of us that could pitched in for the house (though my parents paid the bulk of it as his gift). It was amazing!

My older sister got a week in Florida and my parents paid for the airfare and hotel.

My younger brother and sister haven't yet graduated, so I'm not sure what they will ask for or get.

Our student loans belong to us. My parents paid them while we were in school, but once we graduated they became ours...though it would be great to be student loan free!



answers from Detroit on

My parents already paid for me college, including veterinary school, AND had gotten me my first car (used) so I didn't expect anything more in the form of a graduation gift. I did have a job lined up out of state and living arrangements made, so they did end up getting me my first TV. Since he doesn't have a job yet, maybe you could start a retirement fund for him. Or get him a really nice watch if he wears them.



answers from Cleveland on

I like the engravead pen idea. i was goign to suggest a pocket watch but who has those anymore.

My mom threw me a party and gave me a nice set of earrings. I wish i knew what exactly she did to let me know how proud she was because I do'nt remember her just saying it and the earrings while nice and something i treasure don't indicate pride to me, but i know in my heart with out a shadow of a doubt how very very proud she was and still is of me for graduating.



answers from Houston on

While I haven't graduated yet (been working on this degree for 10 years now - having kiddos has slowed that down considerably), my 3 siblings have all graduated. My parents always get their diploma framed professionally - costs a few hundred dollars (usually - check out the places near you) - and it's something to commemorate their degree. And it's also something new graduates are unlikely to spend the money or effort on doing it themselves.


answers from San Francisco on

When I graduated, my parents opened a really great bottle of red wine from my birth year, and we enjoyed it together. (It was a Joseph Phelps '75 Cabernet... luckily, I was born in a great year for wine! ;) It was the best bottle of wine I've enjoyed before or since - and I'm not sure if it was because of the occasion, or the fact that it was just a phenomenal bottle of wine. :)

Since my parents helped to the fullest extent that they could with tuition (and I went to a pretty expensive college, so their financial help really made a huge difference in the amount of loans and part-time jobs I had to take on), a bottle of wine and their sincere congratulations were more than enough for me. I don't think you need to over think this. Your son knows what the financial/emotional deal is in your family; he knows you're proud of him. Just acknowledge that, and it will be enough for him.


answers from Beaumont on

I gave my daughter a beautiful framed thing of her diploma which also included a picture of the UT tower in Austin.
I can't remember what company. If she ever has a fancy office she can put it there. In the meantime it is in her apartment and looks gorgeous.
It is an outward symbol of her accomplishment.



answers from Chicago on

My parents gave me luggage. I think that's what I wanted.

My friend just gave her daughter a trip to Hawaii ( she's going to visit a friend there).

I think any gift within your budget wouldbe appreciated. A gift card for practical items, a weekend getaway, gas card.



answers from Phoenix on

I second paying off some student loans, if he has any! Depending on your budget, maybe a nice watch, engrave the back, and the rest towards student loans.
I have a single pearl pendant that I got as a high school graduation gift that I wore on my wedding day and still wear often, it has a lot of meaning for me. I got mostly cash for my undergrad degree and a piece of career-related equipment, and gift cards for business attire for my law degree. As appreciated as the cash and gift cards were, the necklace is the most long-lasting and meaningful. So I would go with the watch and then the practical gift of paying off some debt :)
Congrats to your son and your family!!



answers from Los Angeles on

My parents gave me a round trip plane ticket to Europe; my grandparents gave me spending money for the trip. I realize a family vacation isn't possible right now, but why not let him explore the world with a friend? My friend and I went on our own (I've actually toured parts of Europe three different times with friends), but you could always go through an organized tour if that made you more comfortable. Contiki is popular among recent grads.



answers from Chicago on

My parents paid for my college education and that wa plenty. I don't think they even gave me a card. They did come to the graduation ceremony, though. My husband's family gave him a nice watch for graduation and took everyone out to dinner. He paid his own way through college with loans, grants, etc.


answers from Boston on

My parents paid for my college and didn't give me much except a directive to move out!

They did take all of the savings bonds that my relatives had given me over the years (which I really didn't even know about) and gave those to me with a safe deposit box. They also took all of the letters of the alphabet and did a sort of memory sheet with "A is for..." and "B is for...." highlighting things in my academic and college career and general life lessons. Sort of hokey, but given that they had not been very verbal about cheerleading for me over the years, it meant a lot. Your son might take your encouragement and belief in him as an inspiration given that he has no job and no clear career direction. Let him know you think he will be successful in anything he does, and compliment him for keeping focuses and staying on track.



answers from Austin on

My step daughter is graduating and she asked for money to put in her savings account. And she also asked for nice things for her apartment. One of those things was a Blue Tooth speaker from Brookstone so she can listen to music off her phone without having to use her head phones. Price is good and they are really good quality. That's all she asked for.



answers from Kansas City on

My mom, my aunt, and my mom's parents all went in and bought me a used car that a dad of my brother's friend fixed up (he ran a mechanic's garage). It wasn't the cutest car in the world, but it got me to school and back and was a great first car.



answers from Minneapolis on

My daughter is also graduating from college in two weeks. She has earned her BSN. I have been wondering the same thing and then I thought, Why do we need to do more? We have already paid for a lot of her college, bought her a car, paid for a very nice life for her to this point. How much more do we really need to do. Her graduation is a two day thing with a pinning ceremony on Thursday and graduation on Friday. There are about 10 of us attending both ceremonies (five hours away so it is hotel stays for everyone). I decided that we will pay for everyone to go out for a celebration dinner and we are simply getting her a card and telling her how proud we are of her. That's it and in my opinion that is enough. (I did take her out a few weeks ago and bought her two new dresses for her upcoming ceremonies and an interview outfit.)



answers from Houston on

What a great news! Congratulation!
I got a car for my graduation not too long ago:)
Is there any way that you can ask him? If no, i would buy a gift card.

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