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Updated: May 30, 2023

14 Useful High School Graduation Gifts That Will Make Freshman Year of College a Breeze

Here are 14 high school graduation gifts that keep on giving.
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Where did senior year go? The pep rallies are done, prom is underway and graduation is just around the corner.

A student getting ready to walk the stage is an exciting, transitional experience. So don’t taint these precious memories with useless Class of 2014 memorabilia. Your 17- or 18-year-old graduate doesn’t need, or want, a lot of these so-called “traditional” graduation gifts that, once opened, never see the light of day again.

Whether your high school graduate is going off to college, to a trade school or straight into the workforce, there are better gifts out there that a teenager will not only appreciate, but use with enthusiasm. And, they may even learn a thing or two about making the most of their finances.

Here are 14 high school graduation gifts that keep on giving.

1. Online Bank Account

How many overdraft fees did you rack up in your late teens and early twenties? How much in ATM fees did you pay? Spare your graduate and get them a Simple or Ally Bank account.

Even if your graduate already has an account at a traditional bank, a separate spending account can enable them to better track and manage their day-to-day finances.

Not stressing over fees and being able to use a number of approved ATMs without a fee means they can worry about more important things like midterms. Don’t forget to deposit a little graduation present to get them started.


2. Wallet Tracker

After class is dismissed, college kids go out to parties, vaguely remember the evening, and lose their valuables. Most commonly, their wallet turns up missing.

It has happened to the best of us. But today, technology is on your graduate’s side. Link up your Wallet Trackr device with the smartphone app, and never lose your wallet again.

3. A no-contract smartphone with level app installed

No need to get your graduate on a contract plan where they can, inadvertently, rack up additional data, texting and roaming charges. Not to mention the heartache of breaking or losing a $500 smartphone.

The recent surge in no-contact options with major phone carriers enables families to keep in contact with their graduate without breaking the bank. Smartphones are now very accessible and affordable, keeping your graduate in trend with the latest apps and up to date with friends. Carriers, like Aio Wireless, T-Mobile,, or prepaid smartphone plans that include unlimited minutes, data and text messaging.

Also, it's a good idea to give your graduate their new fancy phone with apps already installed. One app that will teach them how to budget is Level. Depending on your income and how much you want to spend, Level tells you what to spend in a day in order to maintain your budget goals.

4. A tablet

Laptops can be bulky and makes your graduate a target for theft. Tablets are powerful, compact and discreet. Compare iPads, Surfaces and Kindles to find out which tablet fits your graduates needs.

Also, for parents or close family,  it wouldn’t hurt to also include an essential e-library and monthly wireless service as added bonuses.

5. Year subscription to Netflix, Hulu, or Gamefly

If your graduate is headed off to college solo or moving out with roommates, take care of the entertainment with a year subscription to Netflix or Hulu. Actually, since the cost is just a fraction of what cable or dish costs, you could gift both.

If your graduate has a gaming console, a Gamefly subscription will keep them from spending $60 every time they want to play a new game.

6. Roku and a Compact TV

Your graduate already has streaming accounts but no entertainment system or television when they leave the nest? Roku is a $50 solution to bringing entertainment to a dorm or bachelor apartment. Graduates can link up all their streaming accounts and watch from one device.

A compact television, such as a 19” or 22” television, make this gift a complete entertainment set.

7. Spotify Subscription

Make those impulse music downloads non-existent with the gift of a Spotify membership. Purchase the $9.99 per month membership, download the app on your phone and your graduate can take their playlists and a incredibly extensive music library on the go.

8. Cooking classes

Constantly eating out will deplete a college student’s finances. Giving the gift of cooking classes will not only prepare your graduate for life after high school, it will give them a skill that they will enable for the rest of their lives. Depending where your graduate will be residing, check out cooking classes on Groupon or Living Social in their area.

9. Daily Burn Subscription

The freshman 10 (or 20) is a real thing. Lack of sleep and an awful diet fueled by pizza and fast food is usually the culprit. But with a tight budget and little time, how can your graduate stay in shape?

Daily Burn is the Hulu of the exercise world. For $9.99 a month, your graduate can stream exercise videos on their desktop, tablet or smartphone. It’s way cheaper than a personal trainer and way cheaper than a gym membership.

10. Transit Pass

If your graduate does not have a car, give the gift of transportation. A monthly transit pass guarantees a way from point A and point B. Never will your graduate have to search frantically for spare change in order to make it to class or work.

11. AAA membership

Even if your graduate is driving a used less than five years old, a AAA membership comes in handy.

Besides having access to discounted travel rates, AAA covers car towing, car jump and fuel if you run out of gas. If your battery dies, AAA offers to replace your battery on the spot. Just pay for the new battery and you’re back on the road.

12. Cups Subscription

Caffeine is essential. And coffee is part of not just the college experience, but part of the lives of many busy people. The thing is, those cups of coffee add up.

If your graduate is NYC bound, give them the gift of a monthly coffee subscription with Cups. Starting at $7, there are subscription available for the coffee novice, the seasoned coffee drinker and everyone in between. Simply provide the Cups code to a participating cafe and enjoy your fresh cup of coffee.

13. Monthly Geek Swag

Who doesn't like to receive packages in the mail?

With all these subscription box services available, it's difficult to pick just one, especially as a gift. But if your graduate is into pop culture. You're in luck.

Monthly subscriptions, like Nerd Block and Loot Crate, will deliver a box of geek heaven to your graduates doorstep. Every month, your graduate can expect different merchandise from big names such as Marvel, Adventure Time, Nintendo and DC Comics. Starting at $14 a month, this monthly treat makes sure your graduate gets their favorite pop culture merchandise while spending their money on important things like food and school supplies.

14. Give the right gift cards

When in doubt, a gift card is something that can go a long way. That is if you buy the right one. Grocery and gas gift cards and practical and will be used for those specific necessities. Other gift cards that can come in handy, but give a little purchasing freedom to your graduate, are Amazon, Target and Apple iTunes gift cards.

When you give your high school grad great purchases and advise smart financial habits, it's less likely they will fall into other money traps. These cool, yet financially savvy gifts graduation gifts will pay off far beyond the savings.