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It seems like only yesterday that I graduated high school, yet each graduation since then that my husband and I celebrate for family and friends reminds me that my high school season was quite a long time ago. When I think back to that day, I am surprised to realize that I have very few memories of the actual graduation day or ceremony. Instead, I recall two specific aspects of that time period. One of these remembrances is excitement over graduation gifts. I recall receiving cards in the mail for weeks before and after my graduation ceremony. Other friends and family sent gifts. It was the first time in my life that I remember receiving so many well wishes from others.
While this was exciting, the second thing that I recall the most from my graduation period is anxiety about future plans. Unlike some students, I didn’t have a concrete plan or feel a higher calling in my life for a specific passion. I wrestled with career plans, college costs, and living arrangements. I ultimately enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for a year, followed by two years at Forsyth Technical Community College, where I graduated with a radiography degree. Both of these postsecondary educational establishments provided scholarships and were affordable while providing me a career path that served me well for over a decade.
Anxiety around a college choice is not isolated to only a handful of students. While family and friends may be trying to locate the perfect gift, high school graduates everywhere are trying to navigate the waters of higher education. In these modern times, most jobs require some sort of postsecondary credential, whether it be a community college certificate or a four-year degree from a university. For those who live in North Carolina, Higher Ed Works is a helpful resource. Higher education can change lives by improving economic mobility and offering opportunities for those in rural areas. Gaining a postsecondary degree can provide graduates social and upward mobility while having a positive economic impact on communities to help break the cycle of poverty.
Citizens can use their voices to ensure that North Carolina higher education systems are among the best in the nation by being affordable and accessible. On February 20th, 2019, North Carolina announced a new attainment goal for 2 million 25 to 44-year-olds to receive a high-quality credential or college degree. North Carolina is one of the few states that has a constitutional mandate for affordable higher education:
“The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of the University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.”
North Carolina has great postsecondary institutions to assist citizens in furthering their education. Through public universities and community colleges, there is a North Carolina college that can help each high school student change their life and those of future generations with a quality postsecondary degree. Consider a North Carolina university for yourself or your high school senior. Connect with Higher Ed Works on Instagram to stay connected.
If you are looking for ideas for the perfect gift for the graduate in your life, here are 10 that will be appreciated by any grad. Some are timeless (hello, cash!) while others may be a brand new idea (subscription box, anyone?) that your grad may find interesting.
#1 Cash. This could probably classify as number 1 through 9. What high school graduate doesn’t enjoy, and, frankly, need cash? When I think back to my own graduation, I vividly remember ripping open every card, hoping for cash to fall out of the envelope. College expenses add up quickly, and there are sometimes hidden expenses (food, supplies, etc.) that students have not considered. Cash on hand is always helpful!
#2 Food gift cards. College kids have a hearty appetite. Restaurant gift cards can be used while traveling to and from college. They can also be used when the student wants a meal that is something other than what the college campus has to offer.
#3 A usable keepsake. Keepsakes are always a lovely sentiment for graduates, but they are not always practical. When we give items that may be considered keepsakes, we make sure that they are usable. It is helpful to know the student’s interests when looking at keepsakes that will stand the test of time. For instance, if a student is outdoorsy, an engraved pocketknife may be the perfect gift. A nice piece of jewelry that the graduate can wear to interviews is also a good idea.
#4 “Moving” coupons. Students who are going away to college have a surprising amount of college gear that they have to take along to their dorm room. If you know of a student who does not have access to a truck or SUV and may need help hauling larger pieces of furniture, pledge to help them out with their journey with a “moving” coupon.
To make things easy, I’ve created a moving coupon that you can download to use in your gift giving. Right click the image below to save it to your computer. Print it using your home computer.
#5 Gas card. If a student is taking their vehicle to college, gas is always a big expense. A gas card is wonderful to have on hand when the student is running a little low on cash!
#6 Luggage. My parents purchased me a set of luggage as a graduation gift, and I still have that same set over a decade later. It has traveled with me to California, Florida, and many places in between. If an entire set of luggage is out of budget, a nice piece or two, such as a carry-on, is a great gift idea.
#7 A nice planner. Quality, durable planners are not cheap. Even students who have not relied on a paper planner previously may find a detailed planner useful when juggling their busy college schedule.
#8 Quality noise-canceling headphones. I do not think my husband would have made it this far in college without his noise-canceling headphones. He even wears them when he is not listening to anything through the headphones. He finds them helpful in canceling out household noise for studying or writing papers. Read reviews when searching for the right pair of headphones to make sure that your student is receiving a great set!
#9 A college dorm room gift set. Fill a laundry basket with college dorm room essentials. It serves as a gift basket and as a practical gift for those heading to live on campus.
#10 Subscription box. If it seems like there is a subscription box for everything these days, it’s because there is! But if you’ve ever received a subscription box in the mail, then you understand why. It’s like a little surprise right in the middle of a crazy week. With so many subscription boxes on the market, you’re guaranteed to find one that will delight your graduate.
Connect with Higher Ed Works on Instagram HERE to stay connected.