Graduating from college is no easy feat-and no one knows the effort you put in and the obstacles you overcame better than you do. Since your college graduation will likely be one of the biggest milestones of your life, it's worth it to reward yourself for all you've accomplished. But just what kinds of things work well as a college graduation gift to yourself? Here are the best graduation gifts to give yourself.
1. A Nice Diploma Frame
You've probably seen these in your campus bookstore or a local shop in town. In essence, diploma frames are a nice frame in which you can hang (and preserve) your actual diploma. Some have a small logo from your college; others have a large picture of campus as well. Regardless, a nice diploma frame can be a great way to formally acknowledge your graduation. Additionally, it can serve as appropriate and professional wall decor for your first office.
2. An Elegant Business Card Holder
Sure, exchanging contact information happens electronically most of the time. And yet there can still be situations-like cocktail parties, airline flights, or other unexpected situations-when a simple conversation turns into a networking opportunity. Having your business cards available in a nice, classy case (in contrast, to, say, your old wallet) can be a smart way to present yourself. And it can be a nice gift to yourself that lasts for years to come.
3. "Life For a Day" Pictures
You may be eager to leave your college life and your campus, but there are still things you will miss about your college years. Consider spending a day-or even just an hour or two during the day-taking pictures of the details of your life. What does your room look like? Your residence hall, apartment building, or house? What do you have hanging on the walls? What kinds of clothes are in your closet? What kinds of technology are you using? Where are the places you spent the most time- studying, hanging out, making memories-on campus? Off campus? In essence, create a photo journal of what your college life looks like. You never know how much you might treasure those simple snaps 10, 20, or even 50 years from now.
4. Write a Letter to Yourself
Similar to an autobiographical photojournalism project, writing a letter to yourself can be an amazing gift for Future You. What are your dreams? What kind of life do you picture for yourself? What have you loved most about your time in college? What do you regret? What do you wish you had done differently? There's no right answer or a specific thing you should write about. Just listen to your heart and say something that you want your future self to hear.
5. College Clothing
It sounds so simple-after all, how many free t-shirts did you accumulate during your time in school?!-but getting yourself some new clothes with your college's name on it can be a great gift. Even if it's just a simple t-shirt and running shorts, you'll reconnect with this time in your life when you're out for a run or hitting the gym 1, 2, or even 5 years from now. Additionally, something comforting, like a zip-up hoodie, can be your go-to item when you're doing something you love, like spending a quiet night in after a busy week at work. A little gift now can be a great way to remind and reward yourself about all you accomplished during your college years.
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-life journeys. A nice suitcase, a great handbag, or even a duffel bag with your college logo or name on it can fit the bill. Additionally, advertising your alma mater during your travels can be a surprising way to start a conversation with others who have a connection to your institution, too.
7. A Connection With Your Favorite Professor
No matter your major, you likely had one professor with whom you really connected or who made a difference in your life-even if you never told them so. Before you leave campus, connect with him or her in some way. Buy one of their books you've never read and have them sign it for you. Ask them to meet for coffee or even during office hours so you can ask their advice and let them know how much you appreciated their presence during your time in school. Your connection doesn't have to be fancy to be meaningful; it just has to be genuine.
8. A Trip Somewhere Special
Do you need some time to process the big changes in your life? Have you always wanted to, for example, take a college road trip? Do you want to have one last adventure with your college friends before you graduate? Consider giving yourself a trip as a graduation present. Even though it's not a tangible item you can put in a gift box, a trip can provide you with a lifetime of memories-and some much-needed rest and relaxation.
9. Something for Your Post-College Professional Life
Do you need a great briefcase? A messenger bag? A new laptop for graduate school? A stethoscope? Scrubs? Consider giving yourself something important and meaningful that also connects to your professional goals. Even if you can't afford something that will last for decades, you can always use something for a season or two and then keep it as a memento. "This was my very first professional item name!" has a nice ring to it, even 20 years from now.
10. Something for Your Post-College Personal Life
Do you want to acknowledge your graduation with something that symbolizes adulthood for you? Do you want a nice set of dishes, a great (double!) bed, or a killer business suit? Do you want new clothes from a nice shop or even some fancy cookware? Consider buying yourself something that feels adult and permanent. You can use it to remind yourself of your transition to adulthood and all the effort you made to set yourself up for success after college.
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. Whether it's a small houseplant, a small herb garden, or even a hardy bush or tree in your parents' backyard or a community garden, planting something that you can nurture and grow can be highly symbolic and rewarding.
13. Take Yourself Clothes Shopping
Give yourself a cold, hard reality check by really looking at what's in your closet. You likely-and justifiably-have clothes appropriate for a college student. Which was fun until now… when you transition from being a student to being a graduate. Treat yourself to some clothing basics, both personally and professionally, so that you can enter this new phase of your life as prepared as possible.
14. A Spa Treatment
Remember: spa treatments aren't just for fancy folks (or even just girls!). Reward yourself to 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 during the past few years. Reward your physical and mental self with some relaxation and pampering. 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.