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Graduation Gifts That Make the World a Better Place

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June 14, 2012

Tis the season for academic graduation ceremonies. Parents and children alike are filled with triumph, hope, and an eye toward the future and its possibilities. As we watch our young people prepare for the next important stage of their lives, we can hope they will follow the following sage advice.

“Graduation is only a concept. In real life every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that, you’ll make a difference.” ~ Arie Pencovici

My grandparents never thought much of college graduation, but instead spent their time and energy on our family’s high school graduations, often traveling long distances to show their love and support. Other families may recognize all manners of graduation, from potty training and kindergarten to high school and college. In a lifetime of milestones though, those high school and college graduations will always be remembered.

One thing is universal for graduating seniors and that is our responsibility to send them off into the world with a strong sense of self, their place in the world, and the drive to make things better. Our gift to them should not be a an object to be placed on a shelf or, shudder, placed in a box never to be seen again. Most graduates do not really need a new gadget or Batman money clip as much as it may seem cool in the moment.

Instead, I would like to consider what we could give our graduates to make their lives better so that they can make the world better. Money is always appreciated, but if you want to have a little say in how your investment is spent give one of these graduation gifts a go.

Digital Camera. Allow them to capture the world, understand it from a new perspective, and take that with them on their new life’s journey. Technology advances have made digital cameras very affordable. Plus, this may be one of the only ways you get to see how much fun they’re having.

Passport. Open up a world of possibility by encouraging graduates to go out into it. Opportunities abound with cultural exploration, adventure, and even charitable work. Get them started with a passport card ($30) or passport book ($110).

Roth IRA. The power of compounding. Young adults may not always think about starting a retirement account now, but starting early may reap big rewards later. Check with your financial advisor, but contributing to your graduate’s account is generally very smart planning.

Experiences. The moments in our lives that become most significant in the future do not come from gifts, but the memories we make while experiencing something new, something life-altering, or spending time with those we love. We cannot always manufacture these moments, but there are circumstances that encourage it. Volunteering, travel, internships, or a combination of all three can positively impact any young adult.

If you have any important graduates to celebrate this year, what are the gifts you would like to give? Alternatively, what would you have liked to receive as a graduate?

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