Inquiring Minds Want to Know:  “What is the Best Graduation Gift Guide List?”

Inquiring Minds Want to Know: “What is the Best Graduation Gift Guide List?”

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The Best Graduation Gift Guide

Here is the best graduation gift guide that I put together with some help from recent grads!

Are you wondering what to give to the graduate in your life? There are so many ideas out there. I asked my two older sons who graduated from high school within the past few years which of their graduation gifts they appreciated the most and/or have used the most. I also asked my nieces who have all graduated in the recent past as well.

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Graduation Gift Guide|

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I also asked 12 other recent graduates, both guys and girls.  Here is what I found out with direct quotes about their favorites to make the best graduation gift guide…  *This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.

Graduation gift guide!

Gifts for Guys:

1. Money or gift cards to local eateries- “Who doesn’t love free money and food?!

2. College hat – “Great to already have when I got to school.

3. Shower caddy filled with supplies- “I liked having a caddy already filled so I didn’t have to think about it.”  This would take a little research to find out their favorite brands to fill it with, but such a useful gift!

4. MacBook— “My mom got this for me.  I have used it every single day for college and jobs.”  A bit more of an expensive gift, but all students will need some sort of computer.

5. Headphones– “I wish that I had asked for these when I graduated.  I had to buy them myself later.”

6. Microwave– “Have used everyday in my dorm and then my rental house because it didn’t have one.

7. Reading pillow– “I didn’t think that I would use this thing, but I did, and my friends all wanted one once they saw mine!

8. Amazon Prime for students– “This has been great for ordering books and watching movies when I probably should have been studying.  But, my grades have been good, so I guess it’s okay.

9.  Slammo game– “My brothers gave me this game.  It’s been fun out on our campus lawn.  Taking to my frat next year.

10.  External battery charger– “This thing is great.  I always have it in my backpack.  Been a couple of times that I was really glad I had it!

Gifts for Gals:

1. Money or gift cards to local eateries or beauty stores- “I love to eat out when I don’t have to pay for it!”  Here is a great blog post by Southernly Splendid with fun and creative ways to gift with money!

2.  Keurig– “Can’t. Live. Without!”  Great for coffee of course, but also hot chocolate, hot tea, soup…

3. Toolbox with little handy items such as:  hammer, screwdriver, tape, different sizes of batteries…  “I didn’t think that this was a good gift, but almost every week either I have used this or a friend has!”  Since this is a soft-sided bag, lot’s of other little things could be added like batteries, tape, string, Command hooks, even a deck of cards!

4. Monogrammed towels– “I love my pretty towels.  I got them in my school colors, and I still use them.”  This takes a little time to get the towels and find someone to do the embroidery, but I know even my son loves his!

5. Overnight/gym bag– “I had a bag already, so this was great because I could dedicate one for the gym, and then I had one to pack real quick to go away for a weekend!”  Bags are great because they can always use them for extra storage in small dorm rooms or apartments as well.

6. Lap desk– “I never had one of these before, and I always wanted one.  I use it all the time although not always for studying.  I do my nails and even eat on it when we order food.

7. Water bottle– “I got 3 of these, and I use them all the time.  When one is dirty, I grab another!

8.  Toiletry bag– “I love that it lies flat, but then scoops up all of my stuff.  It’s great to grab for running to my friend’s for the night or a weekend trip.

9.  Pretty jewelry– “My grandma got me a pretty bracelet that said, ‘Love you to the moon and back’.  I wear it all the time.”  You can never go wrong with jewelry!

10.  Catch-all dish– “My sister got a great little dish for her room that is great for keys, glasses etc.  I wanted one, too, so I ordered one myself for my dresser.  I can’t wait to take it to college.

Graduation gift research done for you!

I hope my graduation gift guide helps with these next few weeks full of high school and college-ending events.  It’s an exciting time for our kids, and the graduation gifts on this list will give them a head start with their new life!

Good luck shopping, and let me know if you have any other good ideas.

P.S.  My son got the best little book for graduation, and I had to share the link with you all!  It’s called Assume the Worst The Graduation Speech You Will Never Hear by Carl Hiaason and illustrated by Roz Chast.  It is really great!  It cuts through to the heart of what kids really need to hear about life in a hilarious way, and the pics are great.  Grab one for your favorite graduate:)

Graduation gift guide

Your student should try Amazon for College Students!

Prime Student 6-month Trial

Other gift guides that I have written:  for teen guys and teen gals

Other helpful posts:

What Will Your Freshman Will Really Need in Their Dorm Room,

10 Tips For Making a Care Package for Your Teen

Have you read my book?  It helps with the whole process of college and life prep.  It really is applicable to all teens!  Here is a link to a blog post that goes with the book.  COLLEGE BOUND: THE ULTIMATE LIST OF CONVERSATIONS TO HELP YOUR TEEN THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL

I would love to stay in touch!

Make sure you subscribe to my Parenting High Schoolers newsletter below for more articles about surviving and thriving with teenagers. Simply enter your information below and you will be all set! You can also like my Facebook page, and follow me on Pinterest and YouTube! I look forward to seeing you again!

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College and Career Planning: Three Secrets to Success

College and Career Planning: Three Secrets to Success

College and career planning starts young. Younger than you think! Start conversations in middle school. Continue them throughout high school, and really start to focus in on what your teen wants to do. Give advice. Find out more information. Work together to make a plan!

Now is the perfect time to have these conversations:)

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This post is written by a new friend that I have met in the blogging world, Loren Kelly. Turns out she is a Missouri girl, so I like her already! She is an expert on this topic. *This post may contain affiliate links.  This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.

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College and Career Planning

When it comes to college and career planning, there are a few secrets to success that I wish I could share with every parent and high school student across America. This information will save you time, money, and frustration. What do you need to know about college and career planning? Here are my top three tips.

Choose the career first and the college last

This first tip is vital. It seems logical to choose a college first, then declare a major, and think about the career portion closer to graduation. This is the model that has been followed for several decades in the United States. This approach, however, has led to a large percentage of college graduates experiencing feelings of dissatisfaction when it comes to long-term career fulfillment. Also, many students enter college with an undeclared major and struggle to find an academic program that engages them. The solution to these issues is to approach the college and career planning process in reverse. To prevent time and money from being wasted, a student should determine a career path before choosing a college or training program. As the image below illustrates, begin with the end goal in mind. When a student comes to me for help with college and career planning, we begin by exploring career fields of interest.

Once we have determined the best-fit career for the student through comprehensive career exploration, then we proceed with identifying the best training and education to prepare for that career. Finally, we finish the process by finding schools and colleges that offer that training and make the decision based on reputation, graduation and employment rates, and cost.

Consider all careers and education options available

The second college and career planning secret to success is to consider all career options and all education options. In the early 90s, the myth began to spread that to be successful, one needed to go to college. We slowly started to see vocational and trade programs disappear from America’s schools, and college preparation became the focus.

I want to encourage parents and students across the nation to consider all options. There are very lucrative trade careers that require short-term training and no college degree.

Real life example

Let me tell you a story about my brother. My brother, Jedd, was uncertain about his plan for the future at high school graduation. He enjoyed working with his hands; however, our parents and his teachers encouraged him to go to college. They assured him he would figure it out while at university because he was an intelligent kid with good grades.

Fast forward two years, and he dropped out with no degree, thousands of dollars of student loans, and a lot of frustration. Had he engaged in career planning first, he probably would have determined that a trade was the best fit for him. He is now a maintenance mechanic at a very reputable corporation. He earns a very respectable wage with a one-year vocational certificate!

As you approach college and career planning, consider all career options and then be sure to look at vocational schools, community colleges, colleges, and universities. The integrity of the academic program, completion and employment rates, and costs are significant factors to consider when choosing your education and training.

Begin gaining career-relevant experience early

The final tip is to gain experience in your future career field as early and as often as possible while pursuing your education and training! Gone are the days of a college degree ensuring gainful employment following graduation. To stand out in a pool of applicants, students must gain career-relevant experience while in school. college and career planning| Most commonly, career-relevant experiences come in the form of internships for degree-seeking students or apprenticeships for trade students. In addition to the benefit of having experience on your resume, internships and apprenticeships also give students the opportunity to try a career.

First-hand experience in a career field can save a student a lot of time and money as they may determine early that a career may not be as fulfilling as he/she originally thought. If an internship or apprenticeship isn’t feasible, volunteer work is just as valuable! As you engage in the college and career planning process, please reach out if you have questions!

More info about Loren

As a College Instructor and Career Coach, empowering young people to pursue the future with confidence and clarity is my passion! If you are interested in more information and ideas to assist your child with college and career planning, visit my website at I share weekly articles and free guides to help parents and students plan for the future!

college and career planning|

college and career planner

Here are some related blog posts: Middle School: Advice for SuccessCollege Bound: Conversations to Help Your Teen Through High School, The Truth About to Prevent Student Loan Debt,

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College and career planning|  

7 Things to Know If You Love a Teenager

7 Things to Know If You Love a Teenager

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Things to know if you love a teen

If you’re here, then you must have a teenager in your life. Loving a teen is wonderful, challenging, frustrating, and often super exhausting. There are a few things that you need to know if you love a teenager. 

Hang in there!  Know that you can do this!  

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7 Things to Know if You Love a Teenager!|

Your teen won’t always like you back.

Hello, welcome to hell!  Not always, but many days it feels like this to many of us. 

Anger is an easy emotion for teens to (not) manage, and they will always hurt the ones they love the most.  They know we aren’t going anywhere, so eye-rolling, horrible tone of voice, and slamming doors are all too common many days.  

Remember that they are dealing with raging hormones, stress at school, and many social issues that are confusing.  *This post may contain affiliate links.  This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.


Things to know if you love a teenager-they will roll their eyes, but, so will you!

You cannot take it personally.

This goes right along with your teen not liking you right now.  Develop a thick skin because you will need it for the next few years.  It is really hard not to get your feelings hurt by the things that your teen says and does.  Eventually, you will both come out on the other side. 

Do not hold grudges.  Half of the time your teen won’t even remember being an a%#@*&%.  The other half of the time they will wonder why we are so upset with them—seriously?!!  

This is by far the hardest thing to know if you love a teenager in my opinion.

Don’t assume that you know anything about their life.

Even though we were once teenagers ourselves, it is different now.  There is some similarity, for instance, the emotions, but that is pretty much where any likeness ends. 

Their social lives and ours are completely different because of social media.  We were lucky if a phone in the house had a cord long enough to reach around the corner into the bathroom.  We were really lucky to have your own extension in our room.  These kids have phones from a very young age, and everything takes place on them. 

Because of social media, everything else in our kids’ lives is very different than our teenage lives were.

Choose your battles.

This is really hard especially if you like to be in control.  I know I struggle with this!  The moods of a teen are unpredictable to say the least.  Be prepared for anything, and, for me, I know lots of deep breaths are helpful–but be sure to take these breaths quietly or you will offend your teen even more!

If you can ignore something without losing your authority, then let it go.  I have gotten really good at pretending not to hear some things.  But, again, be careful, because if your teen thinks that you are ignoring them, that can really annoy them to no end.  Also, try not to nag

Parenting a teen is like walking a razor blade embedded tightrope.  Be super careful!

Do not pressure them to perform.

Witnessing parents who are really hard on their kids is very uncomfortable.  This is something that we have seen so many times over the years.  It is difficult to watch, and I am sure for those teens, really hard to live through.  

Be okay with how your teen does no matter what.  In a play, but not the lead?  That’s okay.  On a basketball team, but not a starter?  That’s okay too.  Your teen dating someone who isn’t what you pictured?  It’s okay.

Of course, your teen should try to do their best.  They should always strive to do better.  But, not being “the best” at something is totally normal, and being normal is very okay.  If they are participating, happy, involved, and have good relationships then they are more than okay-they are doing great!

Be physically available.

This is so important!  Even if you just had a fight.  Even if you both just totally lost it about something really stupid, they still need to know you are around and available.  I still hug my boys every chance that I get.  Sometimes I have to put their arms around my waist and ask for them to hold on, but I will take what I can get! 

Tonight, my gangly almost fifteen year old was restless on the couch.  I asked if he would cuddle for a few minutes.  Guess what?!  He came over and crawled under my blanket for almost 30 minutes!  It was the best, especially since most of them time when I ask, the answer is a strongly worded no.

Build a support system.

This one is for you!  Find your tribe.  Find those people in your life that are in the same boat, or maybe even a little ahead of you on their parenting journey.  Find someone who will lift you up, listen to your current woes, and tell you that it will be all right.  It might be another mom that you can grab a coffee with or a friend from college that you text and call all the time. 

My four besties/roommates from college have been my support system for years.  Hardly a day passes that one of us doesn’t throw something out into our group message, and I am so much better for these connections.

Loving a teen definitely has its ups and downs.

Hang in there.  Give you teen space and time to figure things out.  Give yourself grace, and know that this too shall pass!  You got through the toddler years and potty training and you can definitely get through this.  I think mothering teens is harder than mothering a toddler, although at the time, toddlers seem so hard!  

The early teen years are the hardest, so set your rules and know that they will push against them and rebel in big and small ways.  That’s their job.  Your job is to stand firm.  

Take lots of deep breaths and count to 100 if you need to.  Know that many other parents are going through the same thing right now, so find someone that you can relate to and support. These are just a few things to know if you love a teenager!

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7 Things to Know if You Love a Teenager!|

Check out these related posts:  Best books for parenting teens5 Ways to Improve Communication With YourTeen, great games to play with your teens, and parent survival kit for parenting high schoolers.

Have you read my book?  College Bound: The Ultimate List of Conversations to Help Your Teen Through High School  Here is a blog post that goes along with the book with even more things to know if you love a teenager!

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