Money 301: Big Decisions – College

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Money 204: Making A Little Extra Money

Contrary to a recruiter’s opinion, a degree itself is not important and where you go is even less important

  • Research what your vocation makes annually and the true likelihood of getting into it
  • Assess if whether a formal education is even necessary for what you’re learning
    • Many careers only require knowledge and maybe a non-college certificate to start off, especially entry-level work
    • Once you have a career started, night classes are a financially reasonable approach
    • Generally, a hard work ethic and the desire to learn are all that are necessary to apprentice in most fields
  • Working any job is better than no job while you go to classes, and may be a better career starter than college!
    • Even dead-end jobs can provide lucrative and satisfying work

Pick your college with the price in mind

  • Look at the net price for attending the school
    • Look at the terms and conditions of all school-based awards
    • Look at the total cost of tuition after freshman year, since many financial aid programs only apply for first-year students
    • Don’t be afraid to haggle or discuss a lowered price, since a recruiter is just a unique kind of salesperson
  • Consider obtaining in-state tuition, which is usually cheaper than out-of-state
  • Go to a community college for all possible classes you need
  • Break down the costs of on-campus versus off-campus living arrangements
  • Look for work study programs at the selected campus

Aim for scholarships and grants

  • Federal grants
  • Volunteering scholarships
  • Pay for SAT/ACT tutoring before taking the tests
  • Look for unique demographic scholarships that other people may have not even considered
  • If you do have to get a student loan, opt for federal loans first, since they’re cheaper and have fixed interest rates with better repayment terms

When starting off at school

  • Learn to budget your time in order to budget your money more effectively
  • This will be the first step away from home, and it will be tempting to soak up all of the experiences
    • Learning money management habits earlier on will mean you will not be buried under unnecessary misery later
    • Though you aren’t looking beyond college, someday you will need to pay those loans
    • Your enjoyment of life will not stop just because college is over, and living for today will hurt you tomorrow

After graduating

  • If you’ve chosen a degree program and completed it, but can’t find work, a higher degree doesn’t guarantee anything
    • In fact, the completion of any college degree will create a “glass floor” for lower-paying entry-level work
    • Often the only work option for many doctorate programs is either to become a teacher in that discipline or choose a different one
    • Unless the degree is in Law or Medicine, many graduate programs don’t add value to your education outside of a college
  • Don’t try to maintain the college life after graduation
    • Some people will maintain multiple degrees across multiple unrelated disciplines, and their student debt will follow them forever
Next: Money 302: Big Decisions – Unemployment