10 Unique Gifts for High School Grads

High school graduation is a celebration of both hard-earned endings and fresh new beginnings. In this age of specialty programs and online high schools, each student may experience high school differently. As students approach high school's end, however, most probably share the same sense of wonder, accomplishment and gut-wrenching nervousness. Many will probably-also receive the same tokens of congratulations − those sappy greeting cards and department-store gift certificates. If you are honoring grads this year, why not mark their achievements with gifts as unique, practical or sentimental as they are? These 10 great gifts for high school grads could be the perfect place to start.

  1. "Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: College," $14.95. Joshua Piven's and David Borgenicht's best-selling book, Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, taught curious readers how to land a plane, deliver a baby or escape from quicksand. Now, along with Jennifer Worick, they have written a book designed especially for students, preparing them for the inevitable, but thankfully less dramatic, challenges of college life. Topics range from napping in class to escaping a stadium riot.
  2. "Starting Today: A Journal of Intention and Change," $14.95: High school graduations mark the end of one chapter in students' lives but also the beginning of another. Help your graduate become the person he or she wants to be with this journal, which is full of inspiring quotes and prompts and encourages students to write down and work toward their life goals. Some day, they can revisit those entries to remember how far they've come − and that you cared enough to help them get there.
  3. "One Line A Day − A Five-Year Memory Book," $16.95: The five years following one's high school graduation are often a whirr of chaos and confusion, yet they are often some of the most important years of one's life. The "One Line A Day" journal can help your graduate document this period in an easy, creative way − without cutting into study time. Students can note and look back to remember important events or thoughts documented throughout their college life.
  4. "Oh, the Places You'll Go!," $19.99: Do you want to give your grad the speech of a lifetime but cannot find the right words? Borrow them from one of the most beloved wordsmiths of all time: Dr. Seuss. Oh, the Places You'll Go! offers new graduates some meaningful perspective about what it means to go off into the world yet remains true to Seuss's trademark wit and whimsy. The graduation edition includes a few additional pages for inscriptions or other mementos to personalize the gift for your grad.
  5. Mailing Labels, from $22: It's not uncommon for busy college students to get so swept up in their new lives that they forget to touch base with their loved ones. Encourage your favorite graduate to keep in touch with these stylish mailing labels personalized with his or her address. In addition to making a quick letter home easier to manage, these labels can be applied to important notebooks or gadgets to help them find their way home should they ever get lost.
  6. Graduation Poem Personalized Reflections Frame, $32.95: Honor your graduate's big day with this elegant glass photo frame featuring an engraved personal message. Choose from the pre-set "As You Leave for College" poem or pen your own. This heavy-weight glass piece has beveled edges, features a golden brass frame trim and can be professionally boxed before shipment.
  7. "Hang On" Paperweight, $36: The transition to life after high school is not always an easy one. Help keep your new graduate stay grounded with this heavy pewter paperweight, inscribed with the words, "When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." Wise words from one who understood the meaning of grace under pressure: Franklin Roosevelt.
  8. Clocky, $45: Late night study sessions and social occasions can make mornings tough for sleepy college students, especially when nobody is around to nag them. Enter Clocky, the alarm clock on wheels. If your grad abuses the snooze button or does not turn Clocky off fast enough, it will leap off the table and roll away beeping, leading your snoozer into a mad chase. Bonus: Buy Clocky RED to also give the gift of good karma: 5 percent of the proceeds for this specialty edition alarm clock go straight to The Global Fund for eradicating AIDS.
  9. Graduation Pedestal Frame, $68: When is a photo frame a unique piece of art? When it's this "rustic-chic" pedestal graduation frame from design duo Erica and Joe Casella. This handmade wooden frame sits nearly 18 inches high, features a chalk paint finish and includes the words "Journey" and "Brave" in replica printing shop letterpress tiles. The double-sided design makes it easy for homesick college students to stylishly display their photos − and memories.
  10. Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones, $299.95: Whether your graduate is headed to college or a cubicle, he or she will probably find a slew of distractions waiting. These noise-cancelling headphones help minimize distracting sounds so that graduates can focus on their work − even in the dorms. The headphones are also designed to improve the sound quality of music and even feature an inline mic and remote that are compatible with Apple devices.

Remember online high school grads, too

While many people may remember high school for its stuffy classrooms, awkward social lessons and after-school extracurriculars, these clichés simply may not apply to students attending online high schools. While many of these programs do invite students to participate in an on-site graduation ceremony, that may not be practical, or even possible, for some students. For this reason, it may be especially important to honor online high school graduates' achievements, and these gifts could be a great place to start.