1. Personalized ScholarshipDepending on how big your budget is, give your non-traditional student a personalized scholarship for whatever amount you can afford. Do it up special by using computer software to create a fun or beautiful or cool certificate. Include the dollar amount, your student's name as recipient, your name as giver, any terms, like per semester or required grade-point average, and maybe even the name of the school if you know what it is.
2. Engraved Something. Anything.The 38-year-old husband of a friend of mine chose a cordless drill for graduation. She had wanted to give him a framed diploma and was a little disappointed. We suggested to her in the Continuing Education forum that she engrave it for him so it becomes a true graduation present.
Why couldn't you use the same logic at the holidays? Engrave whatever tangible gift your adult student has asked for with something appropriate to his or her progress in school. A message of encouragement perhaps, or congratulations on making it halfway through. Maybe a "Way to Go!" for good grades. Whatever is appropriate for your student's situation.
I can't think of a student who doesn't love reading. I don't have a Kindle myself, but I think I'd love one. They're a little on the pricey side -- $259 -- but they hold 1,500 books, stay charged for up to one whole week, are as thin as a magazine, and they're wireless. A truly amazing way to read. Anywhere.
If your student is a traveler, Kindle will be the best gift they've ever received. No more toting heavy books everywhere you go.
Buy your student a leather case for their Kindle:
4. HousekeepingWhen you're struggling to balance school, work, kids, a partner, dinner, and pets, the list goes on and on, chances are good the house is a tad dusty. Your student has better things to do than clean the house. You can help. Give your student the gift of a housekeeper for how ever many sessions you can afford.
It depends on where you live, of course, and how big your student's house is, but you can probably find someone who cleans house for about $50.
5. Resume ServiceIf your non-traditional student is getting close to graduation, give him or her the gift of help writing a fabulous resume. Check around and find a service that has experience writing resumes for the kind of job your student went to school to find.
6. Calling CardsCreate calling cards for your student, cards that emulate the kind of card he or she will have when they've got the job they're going to school to land. Have fun. Be creative. But make them something your student can actually use until they have the real thing.
7. ConsumablesWhen you go right from work to the classroom, and then home in time to tuck the kids into bed, there isn't a whole lot of time left for picking up the kinds of things a person uses every day. Give the practical gift of consumables: stamps, sticky notes, subscriptions, anything people use often.
8. A Few of Their Favorite Things
I know of a woman who made a questionnaire she gave to all of her favorite people. It told her what their favorite things are: color, candy bar, beverage, flower, place to eat, movie, book, you get the idea. When a friend is having a little trouble, she drops off at their door a gift bag filled with all of their favorite things.
You can modify this idea for the holidays. It doesn't have to cost a lot, and there's still time to find out what your student's favorite things are.