gifts they might actually want

The Best College Graduation Gifts for Him, According to Recent Graduates

Photo: Hulton Deutsch/Corbis via Getty Images

Finding the right graduation gift is always a challenge (and never more so than now). Many of the more traditional graduation gifts for him — like ties and briefcases — can come across as stuffy and boring, and they don’t exactly feel relevant when in-person job interviews are still largely on pause. Other popular graduation-gift ideas, like turntables or wall art, are fun, but they’re also rather impractical (especially when he’s still living at home). Though celebrations may look a little different this year, especially if your graduate spent their senior year at home instead of in school, you can still give the special grad in your life a gift they’ll appreciate as they navigate a not-so-ideal transition into the adult world. Many of the guys we spoke to said they really just want cash, because then they can start a savings account for a future apartment or plan for a nice trip with their friends, whom they haven’t seen much of, once the pandemic ends. But if you’d prefer to give something tangible, ahead, 24 graduate-approved gifts, according to a handful of recent graduates.

Apple AirPods Pro

In our poll of 100 teens, AirPods came in second only to phones when we asked what they always have on them (or want on them). And if your grad already has a pair, go for the upgraded Pros. “AirPods were a fashion accessory first,” says Andrew Blum, Stanford University ’20. “But now that me and my entire family are working from an NYC apartment, noise-canceling headphones are a necessity,”

Or, if your grad’s a gamer, consider a different sort of headphone. “Whether you are a PC gamer or a console gamer, the HyperX Cloud Stingers are a cheap wireless headphone with amazing sound quality that will change the way you listen to games,” says Jay Silver, Marist College ’20. “The perfect headset for those late night Victory Royales or Pentakills with friends, you won’t regret buying these headphones.”

“A stylish watch can serve as a sort of symbol of adulthood and is always a nice reminder of graduation when a person wears it,” says CJ York, Duke University ’20. “An engraving with the date of graduation is always a nice personal touch as well,” he adds. York likes Swatches, but notes that, for fitness enthusiasts, an Apple Watchwhich is our best-rated fitness tracker, according to experts is a great idea.

Specialized Alibi

“Warm weather keeps you active without trying too hard,” says Hunter, a Binghamton University senior. That’s why he wants a bike as a grad present, especially “coming off quarantined winter months.” Having a bike will help your grad take advantage of nice weather when cooped up in a small apartment, since he’s probably sick of staying indoors by now. This bike from Alibi is one of our expert-recommended commuter bikes, but because it’s a hybrid, he can ride it to work (if he’s going into the office) and on trails during the weekend.

If your grad is more of an indoor kid, a new video game might be a good choice. And if hanging with friends isn’t an option, it’s an easy virtual way to stay connected through games like Animal Crossing. “This portable console brings a new level of game night both in the apartment and on the road,” says Silver. He loves the Switch, but if your graduate already has one, we suggest getting them a highly rated game instead or one of the many other Switch alternatives we’ve found.

Parampreet, a Binghamton University senior, suggests the highly coveted PS5. But since that’s pretty much sold out everywhere — you can find some being resold on StockX, though, if you’re truly set on it — we recommend the equally as cool Oculus Quest 2, which is a favorite of celebrities such as Neil Patrick Harris and Michael Bublé as well as teenage boys and gaming experts. You can play lots of popular games, including Jurassic World Aftermath, Warhammer 40,000, The Walking Dead, and Vader Immortal, and the headset will transport you into the game, making you feel like you’re actually there.

When it comes to video job interviews — a current reality for many — grads noted the importance of good lighting. “The ring light is [also] great for business Zoom meetings,” says Blum. “Or trying to make new TikToks!”

With the pandemic, “anything that makes WFH better” would be an appreciated gift according to Joseph Turtel, University of Southern California ’20. “A monitor with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard would be great. Throw in a nice under-the-desk foot massager if you’re really going for it,” he says.