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Gifts for Grad Students

Laptop sleeves, java fill-ups and so much more


So your favorite 20-something is heading off to grad school? Here's a gift guide with possibilities in every price range, from quirky books to bigger ticket items, plus presents specifically for med students, nurses-to-be, future lawyers and prospective MBAs.

1. Laptop Sleeves

Courtesy Twelve South

Whether your favorite 20something is heading for another year of college or he's off to grad school, his laptop will need protection. There's a slew of possibilities out there ranging from solid color Neoprene padded sleeves, to versions that look like a Van Gogh, an interoffice envelope or an old leather-bound book. The latter, dubbed the BookBook, is made by Twelve South and it looks so very real, even the zipper tabs resemble bookmarks. Still, it's best not to leave even a disguised laptop unattended at the library.  It might get stolen. Or reshelved. Prices? $20-$80.

2. A Coffee Press (& French Roast)

Courtesy Bodum

Coffee and grad school go together as naturally as exams and exhaustion. So give that new grad student a nice coffee press and an insulated travel mug, plus a pound or two of great coffee. Or pair the travel mug with a well-loaded gift card for Starbucks, Peet's or any coffeehouse near campus. Price? $17-$30 for the coffee press, $8-10 a pound for the coffee. (If you like the look of the Bodum coffee press pictured, you can compare prices here. And the best, most insanely detailed instructions for using one can be found at INeedCoffee.com.)

3. TLC for the Shoulders

iStock Photo

Hard-working grad students get neck and shoulder aches. It comes with the territory - all that hunched-over studying. So consider a gift certificate for a shoulder massage at a nearby spa, or a lavender-filled neck roll, which can be microwaved to soothing warmness, then wrapped around aching muscles. Price? $27-$30 for an aromatherapy neck roll, $50-$150 for a spa gift certificate.

4. Crinkly Green Bills

Photo courtesy of David Siqueira, Stock.Xchng Photos

Fancy pens are nice and leather attache cases splendid, but after four or more years of undergraduate work, chances are your 20something has very empty pockets. So cash is the most welcome gift of all. Money may not be a very exciting thing to present, but there are some very clever ways to package it, including rolling a check inside a prescription bottle, filling a personalized piggy bank or tying it with a graduation-style tassel. You'll find a few ideas here.

5. Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School

Courtesy Broadway Books
This tongue-in-cheek advice book by Adam Ruben is light on the actual, practical advice - although giving your dissertation advisor brownies is always a good idea - and heavy on the humor. The result is a very funny, entertaining read and a light-hearted gift choice for the new college grad headed for grad school. Tuck in a few twenties as a bookmark.

6. For Med Students

Courtesy Roll and Tumble Press

If you have a child heading for med school, an internship or residency, there are plenty of quirky, fun, useful gifts out there, ranging from big ticket items like a stethoscope ($100-$300) to anatomy books, posters and a "Magic: The Gathering"-like game that pits antibiotics against the Lords of Pestilence. This list of a dozen gifts for med students should get you started.

7. For Nursing Students

Courtesy Kaplan Publishing
Got a new nursing student or nurse in your family? That new RN or RN-to-be will love everything on this list, from the career advice books and medical thrillers, to scrubs, socks, a retro 1950s series and clever gift cards. Hello, Cherry Ames! And hello 21st century version too.

8. For Legal Eagles

Courtesy P&R Games

If you have a child heading for law school, a clerkship or (shudder) the bar exam, there are plenty of quirky, useful gifts out there besides leather attache cases. That list includes a board game (pictured) tailor made for bar exam crams, engraved gavels, law-themed books and movies, and more.

9. For a Future Dentist

Grand Central Publishing
Dental students aren't exactly known for their leisure time and recreational opportunities, but these ideas offer a little something for everyone, from laptop bags and gift cards to bacon-flavored floss and dentistry-related books (pictured).

10. And for that MBA-to-be

Courtesy Mental Floss

Got a prospective MBA? If you have a child heading for business school, this gift list may be just the ticket. It includes accessories for the office, as well as entertaining books, movies and tongue-in-cheek gifts for that future CEO. Donald Trump will be so jealous.

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