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Does Education Count as a Gift?

By Julie Rice Suggs, Ph.D.

November 11, 2021

The holidays are upon us! Now, I’m sure you’ve all heard the hit song played ad nauseum during this magical, festive season, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” Most of us could probably quote the entire song, but if you’re not quite at that level, you at least know the line, “He’s making a list; he’s checking it twice …” and you know how the rest goes. While we’re all old enough to not really worry about whether we’ve been nice enough to receive presents, the hustle and bustle of these giftgiving months can be overwhelming—special activities, events and traditions long held dear, making the lists, buying the gifts, decorating the house, baking cookies. The to-do list goes on and on.

For me, the song is a reminder of the gift list I am supposed to be preparing for all the aunts, uncles, moms, dads, siblings, and other various and sundry humans who want to buy me a gift (the nerve!). My mind tries to remember: What was that thing I saw last month I desperately wanted to buy but couldn’t quite justify; Mom buying it for me doesn’t count—now, what was it? And come to think of it, do I really “need” some of the gifts that inevitably show up year after year: the new socks, cookbook, pajamas, gift cards, scented candles, or journal? Surely not, but sometimes the pressure to think of an idea for someone makes us write down things we don’t need just to get it over with. Man, remember the days when you had to restrain yourself from asking for too much? Things were so much easier when a pony, treehouse, my two front teeth, and a Red Ryder BB gun were the order of the day.

Here’s an idea: How about you pause on this year’s list (you already have everything you need, right?), let everyone know they can just give you cash, and then sign yourself up for something truly meaningful this holiday season—the gift of education. AICC and The Packaging School (TPS) can be your Santa Claus this year! The partnership between AICC and TPS allows for member companies and all respective employees to receive the value-add of training programs for free. And with more than 80 online courses in both English and Spanish, all related to the packaging industry and the manufacturing environment, you’re sure to find something that suits your current needs. The gift that keeps on giving, right?

Education is truly an evergreen gift—once given, expect great things in return from those who pursue it with passion and determination. Of course, continuing education has many tangible benefits, such as potential career opportunities and financial security. But the intangible benefits are significant as well—the sense of accomplishment and confidence that come from putting in the extra effort to grow your mind.

I know some of you might be wondering where you would find the time to squeeze in a course or two, especially during this busy season. Well, we’ve got you covered there, too. For starters, we use a technique called microlearning. You may not be familiar with the term; it just means we take difficult topics, break them up, and then arrange them into bite-sized lessons you can engage with on any device. We use infographics, quick readings, videos, animations, discussions, or interactive slides as vehicles to deliver information. This unique method empowers you to learn and complete courses on your schedule, at your own pace. We believe these short, focused sessions help avoid mental burnout and cater to adult learning styles.

When you spend time in the pursuit of education, you invest in your most important commodity: your mind. Education and knowledge gain are vital for personal growth, and if you are not actively seeking these things in some form or another, you will suffer for it. Think of it as one of the necessities for life—air, food, water, exercise. Nourish your mind in the same way you nourish your body.

So, this holiday season, while you are trying to figure out if you are on the naughty or nice list, take some time to give yourself the gift that keeps on giving: education.

width=106Julie Rice Suggs, Ph.D., is academic director at The Packaging School. She can be reached at 330-774-8542 or

width=104Alli Keigley, who contributed to this article, is production coordinator at The Packaging School. She can be reached at