As you prepare to watch your high school senior take her final steps towards graduation, finding the perfect gift means more than just handing over a pretty package. Practical presents that the new grad can really use will be the most appreciated.
High school grad gifts
To find a gift that shows your pride for your grad combined with the benefits of helping him or her get ready for the next big academic step, check out our list of the top 12 graduation gifts that help prepare your kids for college.
A new set of wheels
It is practically every kid's dream to be led by his or her parents out the driveway to be greeted by a new car with a big bow on it. So, for those kids who need a ride of his or her own to get to, from and around college, a new set of wheels is just the right gift.
"Now days, the tables have turned. According to our data, it is teens that are influencing the car buying decisions of their parents," explains Stephanie LaCrosse, co-founder and vice president of TrueCar.com.
"Although a small percentage of high school grads receive new cars as gifts, most get help from their parents (down payment or co-signer) when they buy their first new car." Top features for college-bound kids of today? TrueCar reports that high-tech features and fuel efficiency are number one.
Tips for ensuring your teen stays safe behind the wheel >>
This awesome device from Apple combines the technology from all of their popular gadgets into one…and then some. Although your grad can surf the web, check email, view YouTube, stream music and more, it has practical uses, too. The iPad also acts as a mini notebook, with access to books, maps and Mac-like productivity applications, making it Apple's most versatile device yet.
For more budget-friendly options, check out these electronic gifts for teens >>
Even if your teen has a smartphone already, he could probably use an upgrade. It seems like new phones are coming on the market every day. You can get a lot of phones free these days, if you commit to a two-year contract. Take a look at some of the hottest new smartphones being released in 2013.
Pre-paid Visa card
Safer than sending your college-bound teens with cash, the pre-paid debit card works like a credit card without the worry of overspending. So, when your offspring calls for cash, you can reload the card online instantly without the wait of bank hours.
Portable Wi-Fi hotspot
Wireless internet connectivity is an important tool for college students, so arm them with their own personal wifi hotspot to connect their iPad, laptop or other device to the internet wherever they may be. Check with your cell phone provider for availability and monthly rates.
Kindle Fire wireless reading device
Even books have gone digital thanks to tools like the Kindle Fire (Amazon, $399). With more than 23 million movies, television shows, books, magazines and audiobooks available — some are even free — you can help your grad keep up with the digital world while catching up on his or her reading.
Up next: Alarm clocks and more dorm room essentials