Do Over

9 Gift Ideas for College Graduates

I’ve written about this before, but this month, college graduates will have a hard time finding jobs because their parents refuse to move to Florida. It’s not the pythons, alligators, sharks, panthers or bears preventing the exodus to the Sunshine State, it’s the money.

Boomers can’t financially afford to retire like they used to. In a 2014 Gallup poll, half of the Boomers said they plan to work past the age of 65. They’re not leaving their jobs, which means they’re not vacating positions for Gen X employees.

My generation bumps into them and has a hard time climbing the career ladder, because the top positions are filled already.

Millennials then graduate and bump into Gen X employees who have not been able to move beyond entry level and middle management positions.

This reality creates a job traffic jam.

Maybe you’re a college senior about to enter the workforce. Maybe you’re a parent with a son or daughter who is on the verge of receiving a diploma. Maybe you’re a relative or friend who has been invited to a graduation party and doesn’t know how to help a college graduate.

Fear not, though the situation is challenging, it is by no means impossible.

There are 9 things every college graduate needs.

1. My book, Do Over.

Did you think I was going to wait until the last item on the list to talk about my book? That would be silly. (The paperback version is only $9.55 on Amazon right now, which is the lowest price I’ve ever seen it at.)

There’s a reason hundreds of parents have already given Do Over to college graduates and Library Journal said it was “highly recommended for the college graduate just beginning a career.”

Graduating from college can feel like an overwhelming experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Do Over will show them how.

2. A 4-lb bag of Hi-Chew.

What if your college graduate already owns Do Over? Give them the next best thing, a 4-lb of bag of Hi-Chew, the candy that currently sits atop my Candy Power Poll Rankings. Nothing says, “Good luck in the real world, kid!” like 48 ounces of re-sealable deliciousness.

3. Connections.

One of the best ways you can help a college graduate is by opening your rolodex. (That reference just made it seem like I graduated 20 years ago and am super old.) Share your network of connections. Everyone has heard the cliche, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” because it’s true. One of the best gifts you can give a graduate is an introduction to someone you know who can help with a career opportunity.

4. A sneak peek into the future.

We adults aren’t just adults, we’re time machines. We’ve been to the future and can tell graduates what we’ve learned. For instance, despite being in my 40s, one thing I remember about the 20s is that they can be a lot lonelier than anyone tells you. It’s hard to make friends as an adult. You have to work hard to build community. When you share something like that with a college graduate, you’re giving them a sneak peek into the future. Don’t be afraid to fire up the Delorean and and tell a college graduate a little about where he or she is headed.

5. Encouragement.

You’ve got a choice. You can be the person in a graduate’s life who tells them how much working sucks, or how bad the job market is out there right now, or how everyone loves their job at first but eventually they hate it. Or you can be the person who gives encouragement. Tell them you’re proud of what they’ve done so far. Tell them they’re going to do great things. Remind them that they’ve got a support system behind them no matter what happens. Choose encouragement over discouragement every time.

6. Gift cards.

Money is awesome but it tends to disappear quickly. Give college graduates gift cards instead. Starbucks, The Home Depot, the grocery store, everyone has a gift card option and instead of the money getting swallowed up by life, they just might actually use the gift card for something they need.

7. A 1-liter bottle of Listerine Total Care.

To be paired with point number 2 above.

8. Time.

College graduates need some runway to put their lives together. We adults tend to think it will happen instantly. As if perhaps when they get their diploma they will also get a job, an apartment, a life purpose and a golden retriever named Disco who wears a red kerchief. They won’t. Those things take time. (Except for the kerchief, you can get those anywhere.) Don’t put undue pressure on an already pressure-filled moment. Give college graduates time.

9. A copy of Do Over.

Oh, you didn’t think I would double up on my own book in this list? Again, that would be silly.

Listen, most graduation gifts are boring and useless. A college grad doesn’t need a lacquered piece of wood with a motivational statement on it or a hamper for dirty laundry. (They can buy that with a gift card.) They need a guide to one of the biggest career Do Over moments they will ever face, graduation. They need a fun plan to build the four investments every great career requires (relationships, skills, character and hustle).

Give graduates a fighting chance in a world where it’s increasingly hard to find a job.

Give them Do Over and these other eight things and then make them pay for Starbucks with a gift card next time you go out for coffee.

About Author

Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff

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29 Comments

  1. And maybe a copy of “Do Over.”

    One of the other great gifts for college students, and hopefully this has been happening all during their growing up years, is personal insight and affirmation of what makes them who they are.

    What do they do that is truly an expression of them as a person? What abilities do they have that they have begun to learn how to channel into job skills? What personality traits set them apart from others that may be doing the same kind of work? What passion have they been learning to be able to direct into their work?

    Give them this gift and they will not only feel special, they will be special, and they will feel they can make a contribution wherever they end up in a job.

    Thanks Jon for the thoughts.

  2. My son is on the verge of receiving a diploma. Thanks for the article. very useful

  3. This is great, you are good, i like your post and i still waiting our next post

  4. They look just so good. I wish I purchase one.

  5. Absolutely really Amazing Articel and good point in there.
    Thanks shared.

  6. What do they do that is truly an expression of them as a person? What abilities do they have that they have begun to learn how to channel into job skills? What personality traits set them apart from others that may be doing the same kind of work? What passion have they been learning to be able to direct into their work?

  7. Listen, most graduation gifts are boring and useless. A college grad doesn’t need a lacquered piece of wood with a motivational statement on it or a hamper for dirty laundry. (They can buy that with a gift card.) They need a guide to one of the biggest career Do Over moments they will ever face, graduation. They need a fun plan to build the four investments every great career requires (relationships, skills, character and hustle).

    Read more at Acuff.me: 9 Gift Ideas for College Graduates http://acuff.me/2017/05/9-gift-ideas-college-graduates/

  8. Give them this gift and they will not only feel special, they will be special, and they will feel they can make a contribution wherever they end up in a job.

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  14. Thank you for sharing! My brother is graduating the college this summer! And I have spent so many time looking for the perfect present!

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  18. Great idea! Jon, I really like your suggestions for gifts ideas for graduates, your ideas will help the juniors to promote their seniors. Also, graduates confidence level will increase by the help of your ideas.

  19. I really appreciate you for sharing this amazing post because my friend got graduate last week and I was really confused to send her gift but these excellent ideas give me a solution. Great Job

  20. pauline cameron Reply

    For once in my life, I can assure all the students, that there isn’t a better gift for them than the one they could find at Essay Online Store which will help their better preparation for college life. All of these gifts are either really smart or really funny. Either way, the author has put some thought into the topic. I must say that I liked all of the ideas. The presents I liked most were the encouragement and the support because it is the most important thing that one can give to a graduate.

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