Send graduates into their next chapter with a message of heartfelt congratulations.
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Graduates tossing caps into the air
Credit: Paul Bradbury

Summer is hot on spring's heels, and that means one thing: It's graduation season. And that means graduation gifts. As with any present, Southerners know that every graduation gift should also come with a handwritten note. Here are three guiding rules to keep in mind as you pen congratulatory messages to the graduates, whether they're finishing middle school or medical school, plus 10 one-liners if you don't know where to start.

Rule #1: Focus on their accomplishments.

While a sincere "Congratulations!" is appropriate and passable, it's thoughtful to acknowledge the graduate's specific achievements during their time in school, whether they're academic, athletic, or artistic in nature. If you don't know the ins and outs of a graduate's school career enough to reference a singular achievement (or you know that they perhaps didn't find success in school or extracurricular activities in the traditional sense of the word), remember that you can always find something in a person to be applauded, like a giving heart, a positive attitude, or a strong work ethic.

Rule #2: Reference their future plans, but only if you know for certain what they are.

It's considerate to be detailed with your congratulations or well-wishes, referencing the company the graduate will be working for or the major she plans to pursue, but only if you're familiar with their next steps. For example, if you attended their college of choice, it may be helpful to offer a tip on what to order at the much-loved all-night diner or share a brief (and, mind you, appropriate) anecdote from your time there. Of course, if you aren't sure of the graduate's plans, it's best not to make any assumptions. In those instances, see rule #1: Focus your message on what they've already achieved.

Rule #3: Be sincere.

At the end of the day, the cardinal rule of what to write in a graduation card is true for any other kind of note: No amount of flowery language can conceal insincerity. So if you're stuck on what to say or where to start, stick to short, sweet, simple, and sincere. You'll never go wrong.  

What to Write in a Graduation Card If You're Short on Inspiration

Here are 10 lines to consider including in your note. Where applicable, tailor them to best fit the situation.

"Congratulations on your graduation! We are so proud of you and all you have accomplished."

"You did it! We are so thrilled for you."

"The world is a brighter, better place because you're in it. Congratulations, graduate!"

"The big day is finally here. Congratulations! It's time to celebrate your hard work."

"Congratulations on your graduation! ______ (Fill in their intended school, college, or workplace, if you know it) is so lucky to have you."

"Your future is bright, and we are rooting for you all the way!"

"Congratulations on your graduation. We can't wait to watch you soar."

"No matter how far you go, you'll always have a home here with us. Congratulations, and best of luck."

"Showering you in well wishes as you take on this next chapter!"

"If the last four years have been any indication, we know you'll find much success in your next adventure. Congratulations!"