Graduation: Helping Your Graduate Celebrate & Succeed in Lincoln, Nebraska

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Graduation season is upon us, and while we all think of celebrating this significant achievement and life milestone at great parties, there are many aspects involved in the preparation of successful events surrounding any graduation.  Planning ahead is key, as there are many facets you can plan for surrounding the ceremony, party, heading to college, and even details that can help any graduate to prepare for life once school is finished.
nick-vuko-sr-walker-tire-quick-nicksNick Vuko, owner of Walker Tire and Quick Nick’s, speaks from the experience of sending his own children off to college when he stresses the importance of putting a quality set of tires on before sending your graduate off.  Picking out the right tire should involve factors specific to the location of the school, such as the weather and how often they will have to commute or drive home to visit.  We are no stranger to severe weather conditions here in the Midwest, so if staying in Nebraska or neighboring states for school is the plan you should look into a tire that can handle those conditions.  Tires that are labeled all-season are deceptive because they are not designed to accommodate severe weather conditions.  Vuko recommends Nokian Tyre, which is rated number one in safety among its competitors and is the safest tire overall that Walker Tire has seen in their 62 years of doing business in Lincoln.  It is the only brand of all-season tires that also displays a Severe Weather Service emblem, and can even out-perform most snow tires.  They have been selling this brand for 11 years at Walker Tire store locations and highly recommend it for quality and safety purposes.  In addition to the high quality and safety ranking of the tires, you will receive a free oil change from Quick Nick’s every 3,000 miles for the life of the tires, which also includes a 24-point vehicle inspection that ensures the proper functioning and safety of the vehicle and will put your mind at ease.  At 60,000 miles running on Nokian tires, that’s 20 free oil changes!

Your new graduate will soon be leaving the nest for college or to pursue career opportunities, and you may want to review your insurance coverage to make sure you have the proper options to accommodate any changes in location and housing.   Nikki Ostrander of Watts Insurance can help you sort through your options for coverage.  She suggests that for a student living in the dorms, staying on the same family policy and notifying your agent of the change in residence is often the best option and you should consider adding coverage for any personal property that is away from your primary residence.  Some companies even offer up to 30% extra personal property coverage with your existing policy.  If you choose an apartment or rental, it would be more beneficial to start a separate auto policy so that you are eligible for additional renter’s photo-Nikki-Watts-Watts-Insurance-Groupinsurance to cover your personal property.  Many companies also offer discounts when you have more than one policy with them.  Since each company has their own guidelines for discounts based on the policies and coverage, you should utilize the expertise of your insurance agent to take your information and find a package that will work the best for your individual and family needs.  Watts Insurance is an independent agency that represents several different companies to give you more options and competitive pricing.  Ostrander also urges students to get good grades, as a B average (3.0 GPA) gets you a hefty discount with most companies.  Students are busy people, so call Watts Insurance Group for a quote and they will do the work for you!

If you decide to host the graduation party at your home, it is important to make a great impression on your guests with the space you are entertaining in.  You may not have time or the budget to completely remodel or renovate your home simply for a graduation party, but there are improvements you can make that are easy and inexpensive but can still make an impact on the look and functionality of your space.  Lisa Giesbrecht, a designer for GV Kustom Kitchens, recommends simple updates such as changing out the cabinet hardware for a more updated look and clean finish, changing or adding light fixtures, especially over an island or peninsula area such as in the kitchen, dining room or bar, or adding fresh, new window treatments.  If you want to do a little more, a popular service offered by GV Kustom Kitchens is changing the color of cabinetry by re-staining or painting the existing cabinetry to create a different look.  Another smaller scale project would be to install new couLisa-Giesbrecht-GV-Kustom-Kitchensntertops and backsplash.  Giesbrecht noted that many of their customers are opting for the quartz countertops because of the easy maintenance and great durability features.  Pairing this with an updated tile backsplash can make a big impact!  New flooring and a fresh coat of paint are also easier updates for the kitchen and entertaining area, and you will be surprised how these small changes can work together to make your space look brand new.  Hosting a graduation party is a perfect time to showcase the finished product of a remodeling project, so if you do have an adequate amount of time and budget to complete such an undertaking there are plenty of options to add some extra space for entertaining.  An important feature to include is creating a separate space for serving and preparation.  In new or remodeled kitchens, Giesbrecht often includes a coffee or snack bar that is set apart from the main cooking area, and converting counter space often used as a “kitchen desk” into a functional service area can optimize your space.  Creating zones, such as a prep, baking, serving, and clean-up zones is a great way to design when thinking about entertaining or having multiple people working in the kitchen.  GV Kustom Kitchens provides free estimates and can offer their expertise in any kitchen remodeling or renovation project that you are considering.

A new car is the pinnacle of exciting gifts that a graduate possibly will receive, and even though it may seem frivolous, there can be benefits to both the graduate and their parents depending on how you use the process of purchasing a new car; from choosing the car, to getting it checked out, and even financing.  A new car can contribute to their sense of accomplishment that will translate into future successes, a sense of security that comes with a reliable vehicle, especially if the student is going out of state for college or Tim-Richter-Miracle-Mile-Motorswork, and can serve as a stepping stone for financial responsibility if both the student and parents are involved in the process.  Tim Richter, co-owner of Miracle Mile Motors, has several recommendations for buying a new car as a graduation milestone.  He advises parents that although buying a new vehicle as a surprise gift is fun and exciting, the process can be multi-tiered to provide lessons that can be invaluable to any young adult in the future if they are a part of purchasing the vehicle.  If you are financing the new car, you may want to put your child on the loan to build their credit, so when they get out of school they will have some established credit as a tool to become even more financially independent.  Additionally, the graduate should put something of their own into the car to signify their investment, such as part of the payment or paying the taxes, so they are more involved and as a result will take better care and responsibility of the vehicle.  He also recommends doing research beforehand, so that you can come prepared to discuss your wants and needs as well as any questions that you have already come across with the Sales Representative so they can help get you into a car that is the right fit for you.  Richter also highly recommends doing research on warranty options and buying a service contract with the vehicle that supplements the warranty so that if any problems arise in an unfamiliar setting, those issues can be taken care of easily and with minimal out-of-pocket costs that a college student may not be able to afford on their own.   This not only helps with budgeting, but also will give you a good idea of the process to expect if any major mechanical issues occur.

For anyone moving away from Lincoln to attend college, the change in location will also come with new territory that you will have to learn to navigate.  This potentially increases the likelihood of being involved in an accident or mishap with your vehicle.  Tracy’s Collision Centers have been in business since 1969 operating 2 innovative facilities in Lincoln. Over 4 decades of operation have produced a genuine understanding to achieving the optimum collision repair experience for their esteemed customers of all ages.  Integrity is the difference between a car that performs like new and one that just looks like it. Tracy’s not only has the expertise and ability to meticulously restore your vehicle’s original factory appearance, but are committed to deliver more than just a “cosmetic makeover.” They repair your vehicle so it once again meets factory specifications. Once the repairs are complete, you can be as confident of your vehicles performance as you were the day you bought it.  When it’s time to choose a repair facility to care for your car, it all comes down to a matter of trust. Having your vehicle damaged is unpleasant enough without the additional worry of wondering whether the repair work will be accurate and reliable. Tracy’s Collision Center wants to give you peace of mind that comes from knowing your vehicle is in capable hands and the assurance that it will be completely restored to its pre-accident condition.  Tom Tracy, owner of Tracy’s Collision Centers, recommends that any young adult who already owns their vehicle or is looking to purchase a new or used car should visit a local auto repair shop or take their car in for service to observe and participate in the process.  This will allow them to feel more comfortable when bringing their car in, and also to be more knowledgeable about what to expect and what processes are being used to maintain or restore their vehicle, including what services to prepare for in the future.  Being a responsible vehicle owner is a result of learned behaviors, and the more you know, especially based on experience, the better off you will be in the future.

Once a graduate has their new car and heads off to a new college campus or job site, they will be responsible for the care and maintenance of that vehicle, and choosing a business that you trust to care for your vehicle and keep it in great condition is an important decision to be made.  Kevin Cole at NAPA Autocare Center suggests having an oil change and full inspection done by a professional according to manufacturer’s guidelines on a regular basis.  NAPA Autocare Centers will not only change your oil, but will perform an inspection of all filters, fluids, brakes, belts, hoses and suspension parts as well as any other safety equipment according to your vehicle’s specifications.  Any services or repairs performed by a NAPA Auto Care Center also carry a nationwide 24 month, 24,000 mile Peace of Mind warranty. It is also important to supplement these services with a basic knowledge of your vehicle so you can perform your own inspection periodically to extend its life and quality.  NAPA Autocare can educate any customer on where to check the fluid levels, tire pressure, and what types of fluids go into the vehicle upon request, and you can also refer to the owner’s manual as a guideline for general maintenance intervals, fluid types and locations, all the way down to what type of light bulb to use.  Additionally, Cole recommends having a “survival kit” located in the vehicle at all times.  This should include rubber gloves, a basic tool kit, flashlight, extra batteries, a basic jack, and a tire iron.  It is also a good idea to have spare fuses, fluids, and spare bulbs in case of emergency.  If a vehicle has locking lug nuts, it’s a good idea to be aware of this and have a spare key located in a place that is easy to access.  Ensuring that a student or young adult knows where these items are and how they are used will not only save you from costly repairs later on, but can guarantee you peace of mind.

Sunny-Dwyer-Shane-and-Sunny-PhotographyFor the student who will be graduating next year, one of the major decisions ahead is choosing a photographer for senior pictures.  Shane and Sunny Photography is an established Lincoln studio that doesn’t offer the same old package options, but rather lets seniors create their OWN package that includes unlimited poses!  Their product lines include custom albums, wall décor, the essential wallet photos, and even jewelry.  All products are designed to fit each senior’s personality and style.  For most future seniors, this will be their first photo shoot and one they will always remember, so it is important to keep that in mind when choosing a photographer to create that memory for the senior and their family.  Sunny Dwyer stresses that your clothing choices are critical when it comes to senior pictures, as the wrong clothes can bust any session no matter how amazing the photographer is.  Shane and Sunny Photography sends a style guide to all of their senior clients, and this is not just for clothes, but also for appropriate accessories and undergarments, hair and make-up tips, and other helpful information.  They also choose the locations based on the senior’s style, clothing choices, and the weather.  All senior clients will receive a mixture of indoor and outdoor images, and they strive to find the best light in any situation.  Sunny Dwyer emphasizes that graduating high school is a huge accomplishment well worth celebrating and enjoying each part of the process, and they are honored to provide products and services that will enhance your graduation experience.

One of the most valuable pieces of artwork you will ever be able to display are your child’s senior pictures.  For proud parents that want to showcase the accomplishments of their graduate, it is a great idea to invest in a quality framing service that will not only make them look polished wherever you place them, but will also preserve their quality.  Senior pictures are one item that serves as a memento for graduates, but there are many other items of importance that you may have earned and can be proud of.  Some examples of these include diplomas, tassels, sports letters, medals, music awards, academic honor documents, and jerseys or uniforms.   You can bring senior pictures or any of these items in to Hangups Gallery, and they will organize them in order to professionally frame as a group or separately.  This enables you to preserve and showcase your accomplishments and cherished memories for years to come.  As a member of PPFA (Professional Picture Framers Association), the international trade association for the art and framing industry, Hangups Gallery employs fine quality craftsmanship and guarantees framing practices to professional world-class standards.  Their framing consultants have backgrounds in art and collectively, have over 50 years of experience and a full spectrum of design expertise to guarantee that you go home with that “just right frame”.  To find some direction on this type of creative endeavor, you can stop into the Hangups for a consultation or visit their website for more ideas.

photo-Dr-Andrew-Glenn--Oral-&-Maxillofacial-SurgeryExperts would agree that adjusting to a life of independence coming from a heavily structured environment of high school can be difficult and overwhelming at times.  College can be stressful and there is no reason to add more to your plate with your teeth.  Dr. Andrew Glenn has seen many issues come up regarding third molars, or wisdom teeth, around the age when young adults are graduating or in college, and recommends having a check-up with your general dentist prior to going off to college to review whether the spacing with your other teeth is sufficient to allow for your wisdom teeth to remain.  Wisdom teeth are always easier to remove before they are fully developed, and since healing may take a significant amount of time and is different for everyone, the sooner you have them removed the better off you will be in the long run. Also, this will be one less thing you will have to attend to when life is pulling you in many other directions.  For routine care, try to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day, and always change toothbrushes every three months.  Dr. Glenn recommends visiting your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and examination, and to schedule your next visit right after the current one so you establish a routine.  Having a full exam sometime during the summer before going to college not only gets it done and out of the way before you become too busy with school, work, and extra-curricular activities, but also gives you a chance to have any necessary treatments performed before any problems escalate.  Routine care and cleanings are crucial, as the last thing you want is for a painful mouth to keep you from your studies and having fun.  Also, parents, family and friends who love to send care packages can throw in some new toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste, or even include travel size products because they are perfect to stash in a backpack and will also serve as a reminder.  Always give yourself the gift of a healthy, pain-free and beautiful smile.  Self-confidence goes along with having nice teeth, and one of the best features that you have is your smile.  Make the most of it and share it with your new friends and college community!

Kevin-Knudson-Quick-TeqKevin Knudson, owner of Quick TEQ, currently has an 18-year-old son heading off to college and three children who are college graduates. This has given him plenty of firsthand experience of what technological equipment new graduates are purchasing and using for school.  There are a growing number of choices when selecting smartphones and tablets today, with the choices changing a lot just since last year. Today because of smart phones, most people already carry what is an equivalent to a netbook computer in their pocket or purse. Knudson says that there has been a change in trends from using desktop computers to laptops, and now tablets have made a huge advancement in portable technology as well as being very useful and popular with young adults.  There are accessories available, such as Bluetooth keyboards, which can transform tablets into the equivalent of a simple laptop. In fact, tablets out-sold laptops in the last quarter of 2012.  Currently, Knudson recommends having a smartphone and/or tablet and a laptop for portability.  Kids now expect information to be at their fingertips, and these provide the ability to access any type of information you may need anytime, anywhere.    Computer programs are also adapting to the changing trends in equipment.  Operating systems will continue to evolve into more user friendly features.  Applications, or what are referred to as “apps”, are the new normal.  We will expect our computers to have swipe screens, boot up instantly and work at light speed.  Knudson also projects that technology will drive our learning styles quicker than ever before.  Universities are focusing more and more on classes being taught with online learning.  Information on any subject is available at our fingertips, and if you want to become an expert at anything you can just ask Google.  Knowledge is power, and knowing how to learn is very important.  Technology will only become more important as the world moves further into the digital age.

Graduation is a time when a young adult feels a great sense of accomplishment and also excitement for the future.  There are a few small things you can do for yourself during this time that will benefit you when you head to college or into the workforce.  When you receive all the cards wishing you well, you will also likely receive the traditional monetary gift that accompanies them.  Instead of blowing your cash on summer plans or that new item that you’ve been dying to purchase, save this money and put it towards your first semester’s textbooks, technology that will make your life easier, or just save it so you can focus on your new college setting for a little while without worrying about a job or finances.  You could also spend this money on a nice set of clothes for professional activities or potential internship opportunities.  Also, whether you are going to college or right into the workforce, take on responsibilities to ensure you will still have a structured schedule similar to the one you had in high school.  This can include joining an on-campus club or organization, finding a job with hours that supplement your schedule well but not too much to distract you from school, and if you are working ask your boss about projects that you can be involved in.  Being pro-active, responsible, and dependable are incredibly valuable life skills that are necessary for success anywhere.

There are many factors that should drive your decision to attend college, including your personal goals.  For some, school can’t end soon enough and they will pursue a job or career without attending college.  Despite the rising cost of education that makes its value a topic of scrutiny, attending a four-year college and earning a bachelor’s degree is a still a worthwhile plan and statistics substantiate this as well.  In fact, over the course of a typical working career an average person with a college degree will earn one million dollars more than an average person with only a high school diploma.  To make your college degree worth the investment of two to four years of time and a significant amount of money, there are some things to keep in mind.  It may sound fun to go out of state to college, but consider staying local for your first two years.  For most degree programs, your first two years will be filled with general education courses that for the most part are completely unrelated to your major or focus.  You can take these courses at a local institution for a fraction of the cost of a typical university, and most are transferrable to your institution of choice at any time.  Now that you are making a monetary investment in your education, it is your responsibility to be successful and take advantage of all you are paying for.  The more you learn and the better you do in college, the better your resume and qualifications will be when you start looking for a job after graduating college.  Good grades not only look great on paper, but they can benefit you in many other ways such as discounts on insurance and accolades from your school. They may also provide opportunities such as additional scholarships or eligibility for organizations.

When a person graduates from college, they have more distinct direction to follow based upon their focus of study, job prospects, and further education goals.  When graduating from high school, on the other hand, the possibilities are endless.  We live in a climate of constant economic change, and many people’s opinions of post-high school education have shifted to be more welcoming of young adults who wish to bypass college and enter the workforce right after graduating from high school.  With regards to choosing a college, there are currently a wealth of options available other than a traditional four-year university, including two year Associate’s degrees, trade schools, and online programs.  The best plan is to have one.  Consider all of your options carefully, and give yourself enough time to change your mind– even a couple of times.  Make use of your resources, such as school counselors, and check out plenty of websites on potential colleges, their programs, and additional offerings.  Not all colleges are created equal, and cost alone is not necessarily an accurate indicator of what they may have to offer you.  Focus not only on each prospective institution’s educational programs, but also on access to supplemental programs that will assist you with life after college, such as career placement services.  You will give yourself a better chance for success if you have done the research, and being fully prepared to make decisions that will impact the rest of your life will further ensure success into the future.