I’ll pay off my student loans any day now – and while I’ve been waiting for this moment, I’ve been thinking about the advice I would have given myself six years ago. Here’s what I would say:
- Go to community college first: You can get all of your prerequisites out of the way for a fraction of the cost. I highly recommend this especially if you already know the career you want to be in.
- You don’t need a credit card: Banks are smart and they market to college students. I got my first credit card in high school, but at all three institutions I attended, I saw big name banks market our college mascots on shiny new plastic.
- Apply to every single scholarship possible: They are out there, and instead of being lazy, take the time to apply for scholarships that are relevant to you.
- Volunteer, intern, and participate in your community as young as you can. You find out what you want to do by trial and error – that’s difficult to accomplish if you’re sitting at home doing nothing. I qualify for jobs beyond ‘entry level’ just out of college because I have professional experience dating back to just after high school. I knew that the job market was going to be rough, so I took what I thought I’d be good at, and I ran with it. I volunteered with cities and grassroots organizations. I interned with corporations and businesses in my field. Through volunteering and interning you figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are, all while building your resume and experience.
- You don’t need all that bullshit on Bed, Bath, & Beyond’s college list.
- Take care of your stuff and reuse it. You don’t need to buy school supplies every single semester
- Living off campus is less expensive than dorms and a meal plan. More work – but less expensive.
- Find out when you need to start paying on your student loans and save money while you’re in school for the first couple of payments.
- Don’t get caught up comparing your financial situation with others.
- Read Dave Ramsey.