14 College Graduation Gifts for Yourself

Reward your hard work with something to remember

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Graduating from college is no easy feat, and no one knows the effort you have put in and the obstacles you have overcome to get there better than you do. And since your college graduation will likely be one of the biggest milestones of your life, you should take the opportunity to reward yourself for all that you've accomplished. But what makes a good self-given graduation gift? Take a look at these top 14 suggestions.

1. A Nice Diploma Frame

You've probably seen these in your campus bookstore or a local shop in town. Diploma frames are specially-sized frames used to frame and preserve a physical college diploma. These can be very simple or rather ornate. Some have a small logo from your college or even a picture from your campus, others are plain and can be customized to your liking. Regardless, a nice diploma frame can be a great way to formally acknowledge and show off your accomplishment. It can also serve as professional wall decor for your office that puts your qualifications on display.

2. An Elegant Business Card Holder

Sure, contact information can often be exchanged electronically, but there is still a time and place for a business card. These days, nearly any situation—from cocktail parties to flights—can turn into a networking opportunity, and you want to be prepared when this happens. Having your business cards available in a classy card holder instead of your pocket or an old wallet can be a smart way to present yourself and make a strong first impression. This gift will last for years to come.

3. Take Pictures of Your Life

Whether you're eager to leave your college and campus behind or sad to see it all go, there is a lot you will miss from your college years. Consider spending a day or a couple of hours taking pictures of details from your life. What does your room look like, residence hall, apartment building, or house look like? Who do you live and spend time with? What kinds of clothes are in your closet? Where are the places you spend the most time—studying, hanging out, or making memories—on- and off-campus? A photo journal is an inexpensive gift packed with meaning, and you never know how much you might treasure those simple snaps in 10, 20, or 50 years.

4. Write a Letter to Yourself

Like taking pictures of your life gives you something to look back on in the future, writing a letter to yourself gives you a way to look forward beyond graduation now and reflect on later. Writing a personal letter to your future self is not only a profoundly meaningful exercise in self-actualization, but it makes an amazing gift. What are your dreams? What kind of life are you picturing? What have you loved most about your time in college? What do you regret? What do you wish you had done differently? Write about whatever feels important to you right now, and record any memories you want to preserve.

5. Get More College Clothing

It may sound pointless—after all, how many free t-shirts did you accumulate during your time in school?—but you can never have enough college clothing. Whether it's a simple t-shirt or a nice, customized jacket, you'll want to get some new clothing with your college's name on it that you know you'll be able to keep wearing. This will help you to reconnect with this time in your life no matter where you go after graduation and brand yourself as part of your college's alumni network. A little gift like this is a great way to reward yourself now for a job well done and show your school pride for years to come.

6. Travel Gear

Have the travel bug? Want a job that requires a lot of travel? Consider giving yourself something that can be part of your post-college journeys. A durable suitcase, an attractive handbag, or even a duffel will fit the bill. Get something college-branded to advertise your alma mater during your travels—especially if you love a good conversation starter—or just something high-quality that will last.

7. A Connection With Your Favorite Professor

Almost everyone has one professor that really changes them. If you have a professor that has impacted your life and you've never told them, now is your chance. Before you leave campus, make an effort to talk one-on-one. Invite them to meet for coffee or find them during office hours so you can soak up every ounce of life and/or career advice they have to give and let them know how much you have appreciated their teaching. Who knows, you two might even keep in touch. You can't put a price on a genuine connection.

8. A Trip Somewhere Special

Do you need some time to process the big changes in your life? Have you always wanted to take a road trip but haven't gotten the chance? Do you need to have one last adventure with your college friends before you all graduate? Consider giving yourself a trip as a graduation present. A trip somewhere near or far can provide you with a lifetime of memories and some much-needed rest and relaxation.

9. Something for Your Post-College Professional Life

Give yourself the gift of career-preparedness by splurging on a briefcase, messenger bag, laptop, stethoscope, set of scrubs, or another job-related item that you'll be able to use in the workforce. As college ends and your professional life begins, there's no better way to transition than to make sure you have what you need to be successful. Even if you can't afford something fancy that will last for decades now, get something that will work for a season or two and then keep it as a memento. Your very first professional suit or name card will always feel special, even when you can't use it anymore.

10. Something for Your Post-College Personal Life

If you'd rather focus on your personal life after graduating, try gifting yourself something you'll be able to use at home. This could be something that symbolizes adulthood or just something you've been wanting or needing. Do you want a nice set of dishes, a bigger and more comfortable bed, or a killer piece of workout equipment? A new set of clothes, a couch of your own, or even a TV? Consider buying yourself something that excites you, whether it makes you feel like more of an adult or not. You have already set yourself up for long-term success by graduating from college, and now it's time to treat yourself to something that will improve your personal life.

11. A Donation to an Organization That Helps Students Go to College

No matter your situation, you didn't make it through college entirely on your own. Whether it was family, friends, administrators, professors, or community leaders, people undoubtedly helped you along the way. Consider giving back by making a donation to a community organization or your college (in the form of scholarship funds) so that others have support during their time in school, too.

12. Plant Something

It doesn't have to be big and fancy to symbolize the start of a new chapter in your life and make you appreciate your hard work. Whether it's a small houseplant, an herb garden, or a tree in your parents' backyard or a community garden, planting something that you can nurture and grow can be highly rewarding.

13. Take Yourself Clothes Shopping

Give yourself a reality check by taking a look at what's in your closet. You likely—and justifiably—have clothes appropriate for a college student, but maybe not for a college graduate. Now that you're no longer a student, you'll have to stop dressing like one. Treat yourself to some clothing basics for both your personal and professional life so that you can enter this new chapter as prepared as possible.

14. A Spa Treatment

Remember: spa treatments are for everyone. Reward yourself with something as simple as a pedicure or as fancy as a full-day treatment. After all, you probably put your body through unbelievable amounts of stress and mistreatment over the past few years. A day of relaxation and pampering won't reverse that, but it will help. You might be surprised at how this simple luxury can rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul and prepare you to begin your post-college life refreshed and recharged.