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Great gifts for college grads

The U.S. Department of Education reports that more than one million bachelors degrees and 700,000 associate degrees are awarded each year. Statistics Canada indicates that more than 250,000 students graduate from university every year. That means that there are many reasons to celebrate the accomplishments of graduates -- and just as many gifts to buy to commemorate these special events.

For the graduate who will either be going on to attain a higher degree or venturing out into the professional world, there are several gifts that might fit the bill. Those who need some grad-gift inspiration can consider this list of possible ideas.

Job essentials

Many graduates go straight from college into a new job. This opens up plenty of opportunities for career-related gifts.

* When going on interviews or if they're already established in a job, graduates can benefit by a monogrammed leather portfolio or business card holder. This way personal effects can be stored neatly and professionally.

* For those whose laptop or tablet is rarely out of reach, think about gifting with a portable lap desk. This makes it easier to catch up on assignments while commuting or working from home.

* Leather messenger bags or valises are essential to on-the-go professionals. They can hold lunches, paperwork, a computer, phones, and any other business essentials.

* Don't overlook the possibilities for cases and accessories for PDAs and smart phones as well. They'll protect these from dropping or spills.

Travel gifts

Some graduates take a brief hiatus between school their career pursuits, making the most of their free time by traveling. Here are some gifts to make world travelers smile.

* Tickets for a plane or train ride to a desired locale.

* Personalized luggage for all of those destinations he or she is bound to visit.

* Tropical locales are very popular vacation spots, and are often replete with underwater scenery to capture. Think about a combination swim mask and underwater digital camera and video camera. This way the grad can explore and capture memories at the same time.

* A large wall-mounted map will enable the gift recipient to keep track of all the places to which he or she has traveled.

Techy gifts

As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, a graduate's gadgets may no longer be current or trendy. Techy gifts may be much appreciated.

* Find out if you can increase texting packages or data usage on a current phone contract. This way the graduate will have more opportunity to network or use his or her smart phone to pursue potential career opportunities.

* A new smartphone can be a useful gift. Find out the features the graduate would enjoy and give the gift of communication.

* If the graduate is an avid gamer, a handheld gaming device can provide entertainment while lounging beachside or in between job interviews. Bundled packages may offer the best value.

* A laptop or tablet computer can help keep track of resumes and calendar appointments. It can also be loaded with software that can help graduates brush up on computer skills needed for the workplace.

These suggested gifts may be perfect for many graduates on a gift list. Another gift that is always works is money. Whether provided as cash or check, or as a gift card to a favorite store, money is something every graduate can use -- especially when student loan repayment is set to begin.