Dads and grads, dads and grads, dads and grads. What to give them? Food, preferably pizza. Where to go? “Pieology,” said my friend Janice. Four locations in San Diego: Hillcrest (619-241-2881), Clairemont Mesa (858-565-0600), Sports Arena (619-223-0600), and Pacific Beach (619-273-9999). “That place is great, especially for families with lots of particular tastes. Everybody gets their own individual pizza made to order, with as many of their many toppings as they want.” (Cheese pie, $7.49; topped pie, $9.10). “You just get in line and pick the ingredients as you move along, like you’re at Subway, but it’s for really good thin-crust pizza. Speaking of crust, you can get gluten-free if you want. The ovens are so hot that it’s only about five minutes before your pizza is ready.”
Elizabeth at the Hillcrest location suggested, “If you plan on coming in with a big group for a graduation celebration, give us a call the day before with your timeframe. That way, we can make sure we’re staffed up and ready for you.” Right now, the chain is running a Dads and Grads promotion: through June 30th, every $25 gift card purchased earns a $5 bonus card.
My friend Mary suggested that college-bound kids can always use more energy...for their phones. “They’re always on them, and they’re always on the move, so a portable charger makes a good practical gift.” Fry’s Electronics in Serra Mesa (858-514-4500) sells the ByTech 1400 watt Universal Power Bank ($29.99), which is compatible with all smartphones and tablets and can charge two devices at the same time. That way, the shy freshman can make a friend. Joe, on the other hand, suggested something more rugged, like the FosPower Power Active ($26.99 on Amazon). “It’s waterproof and dirt-proof. It’s got a solid outer case and won’t be harmed if you drop it. Plus, it comes with a flashlight, compass, and carabiner, in case the kid ever ventures off campus and out into the wild.”
Joe also suggested that college students — “or, really, anyone who needs to focus on what they’re doing in an unquiet environment” — could benefit from noise-canceling headphones. “They’re good for studying because they reduce unwanted ambient sounds. You can listen to music without raising the volume to the point where it’s distracting. I like the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Wireless headphones.” ($349.95 at the Bose store in Fashion Valley, 619-298-9745, on display and ready for testing.) “But if you’ve got one of those kids who is always losing headphones, you can probably get by with the CB3 Hush, which are also wireless and Bluetooth-ready.” ($89.99 on Amazon)
My friend Rose tends to be the most practical of all. “Get them transit cards if they’re in a big city, or gas cards if they’re not. Even if they don’t have a car, odds are they’ll know someone who does, and the gas card will help make them attractive passengers. And definitely get them a book on budgeting and even investing. I find that college kids are pretty terrible with money. Maybe consider Soldier of Finance, by Jeff Rose. It offers modules on how to clean up your credit — in case you’ve made an early misstep or two in that department — set a budget, and also invest.” ($10.39 on Amazon) “But if one more book is too much for a new collegian to contemplate, I suggest getting a smartphone app like Mint, which helps you organize your spending by category, or Level Money, which gives you real-time images of your money and your spending. It essentially replaces your bank balance with a spendable number for a given month.”
Mary Ann, on other hand, worries about fueling the soul more than the car. “Purchase the kid a year’s subscription to a music-streaming service. Spotify is $9.99 a month for a premium membership, but students at accredited universities can get it for $5. Google Play is $9.99 a month, but you have to set it up with an Android phone. Pandora is $9.99, too.”
As for me, I keep circling back to food: it must be all these years with Patrick. I find that homemade Rice Krispie treats make an excellent care-package treat for a homesick freshman.