The College Survival Guide: Make the perfect graduation gift even better

A copy of Hallmark's College Survival Guide sits on top of a gift wrapped in white and yellow striped paper; they sit on a white desktop alongside a white pen and a wooden bowl filled with paperclips and push pins.

The College Survival Guide was created to turn the most-requested high school graduation present (money) into a deeply personal one that earns the coveted “No, Seriously, Favorite Gift Ever” label.

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The premise of the College Survival Guide is simple: On every page, you’ll find a bit of helpful information and a place to stash the appropriate currency. For example:

  • Family birthdays and postage stamps
  • Laundry tips and quarters
  • Local restaurant ideas and gift cards
  • Must-see local attractions and ride sharing gift cards

It’s a creative way to present advice (everyone’s favorite thing to give) and money (everyone’s favorite thing to get). Here’s how to make it even more memorable.

Fill in the blanks  

There are spaces throughout the book to add specific data—birthdays, local restaurants and more. You can let the new freshman do the work, or you can do a little research and add your info: Add family birthdays and addresses they might not keep handy. Check online reviews for cheap eats and handy services near campus. Add your own tips and notes you think they’ll find handy as you flip through the pages.

Customize the currency  

Honestly, you can just stuff the whole book with cash. But if you’re convinced your young giftee will freak out the first week of school and blow it all on a single really excellent dorm-room party, you can put in a little legwork to fix that. Add different gift cards for different situations: food, gas, ride sharing, food delivery, cards for family birthdays, etc. You can order them online or grab some from one of those giant displays at your local big-box store.

Go digital  

If the graduate is most comfortable in a cashless society, you could send all the money through an app like Venmo—one payment at a time, using emojis to match up to the different pages In the College Survival Guide. Or instead of plastic gift cards, go the electronic route, and write in the promo codes on each page.

Make it personal  

Your knowledge of the grad and handwritten notes can make this a gift they’ll hold onto long after they’ve spent the last quarter. Include encouraging words, sincere compliments, memorable anecdotes about their oh-so-far-away youth and a heartfelt congratulations note—and maybe tuck in a tissue or too, as well.


Looking for more graduation celebration and survival ideas? We have some!