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Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Saying Thank You: Gift Ideas for Anyone Who Helped in the College Application Process

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If you’re like many high school seniors, the end is in sight. You’ve spent four years working hard, seeking help when needed and applying yourself to the fullest of your abilities. It’s been a wild ride, and with college application deadlines either passed or in your immediate future, odds are that most of the work is now behind you.


With the hardest parts out of the way, have you paused to consider how you’ll thank the people who helped to make it possible? Whether they’re teachers, guidance counselors, mentors, friends, or siblings, they were a part of your journey and where you are today is at least in some small way due to their assistance.


Thanking people can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task when their role in your future is so big. Your debt might seem unpayable, but odds are that even the smallest of thank you’s will lend credence to their role in your high school years. It doesn’t take an over-the-top display of gratitude to express your thanks. In this post, we offer five gift suggestions for all the people who’ve made a difference.


For the person who is always nursing a mug of tea or a cup of coffee:


We all know someone who seems attached to their warm beverages. Whether it’s about a morning caffeine hit or a warm cup of afternoon comfort, these warm drink aficionados are rarely without a mug in their reach. What can you possibly give them to show your thanks?


A high quality travel mug such as a Yeti is one great option. Alternatively, try a personalized mug with a photo of your class or of you and your mentor together. You could even purchase a mug that’s of personal relevance to them, such as a favorite sports team or a local artist’s print. Complete your gift with an enclosed beverage. This could be a box of your teacher’s favorite tea, if you happen to know it, or a gift card to a local cafe or coffee shop.


Cost: $20-40


For the person who raves about culture and the arts:


Is your mentor someone who can’t pass up a local art show and never stops raving about the latest local theater presentation? Is his or her office plastered in fine art prints or homemade canvas work?


If so, consider museum pass or membsership, depending on cost. If no local art museums seem convenient enough, think about a print from a local artist. If possible, find one with some personal relevance such as a  a subject that you know your mentor loves or a landscape that’s familiar.


If you’re giving a museum pass, be certain that it’s for general admission and can be used on any day. Sometimes, passes to special events and displays will be good for limited periods and you risk your mentor not being able to attend. Try a general admission pass to increase his or her options.


Cost: $20-70


For the person who nurtures classroom or household plants:


Do you need to thank someone who seems to have a green thumb? Does one of your mentors proudly dote on plants the way some do on pets or children? Is his or her classroom a veritable greenhouse of vegetation?


For these mentors, consider creating your own green thumb gift bag. Some options to include could be a gift card to a local gardening store, a set of glass blown self-watering stakes, and a small garden ornament, like a fairy or gnome. Pack your gift items into a quality planting pot

(bonus points for something hand painted or locally made) and write your note on an extra-large gardening stake for a special touch.


Cost: $20-50

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For the person who loves sports:


This person returns to the school week each Monday anxious to talk about the weekend’s sporting events. He or she isn’t shy about favorite teams, sports statistics, and the prospects for the newest starting player. Even if you personally aren’t into sports, this person will make sure you’re updated on all your local teams.


If you’ve already been accepted to college, a great gift for this person would be athletic apparel from your future college. Take a good guess at size, or order one-size-fits-all apparel such as hats, towels, or water bottles.


If you don’t yet know where you’ll be attending college, consider gifting similar apparel from a favorite local sports team. Think towel, mug, license plate holder, or even a magnet as a way to show your appreciation.


Cost: $10-30


For the person who is still kind of a mystery:


Sometimes, you make it through several years of guidance and advice and then realize that, while your mentor has spent hours upon hours learning about you, you still know little to nothing about him or her. This can seem like an embarrassing situation or even a blatant set up for a disappointing gift, but it doesn’t have to be.


There are plenty of gifts with universal appeal that won’t highlight your lack of personal connection with someone.  Safe bets include a gift card to a local restaurant or general store, a potted plant, a small souvenir from your intended college, or a variety of locally made food or candies. Smaller production gourmet food gifts such chocolate from a local candy store, gourmet popcorn, or homemade soup mixes can lend a personalized touch that is fairly universal in nature.


Finally, keep in mind that no matter who you’re thanking, the value of a heartfelt, handwritten thank you note cannot be understated. No matter the enclosed gift, be certain to include a handwritten note detailing a few specific things you’re particularly thankful for and why you felt the need to reach out with a gift. Many teachers and mentors alike remember heartfelt notes from their students amongst their most valuable rewards.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!


To learn more about choosing who will write your teacher recommendations see these posts:

Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.