Bye Debt

Dear Virginia

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. You don’t need all that bullshit on Bed, Bath, & Beyond’s college list.
  6. Take care of your stuff and reuse it. You don’t need to buy school supplies every single semester
  7. Living off campus is less expensive than dorms and a meal plan. More work – but less expensive.
  8. 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.
  9. Don’t get caught up comparing your financial situation with others.
  10. Read Dave Ramsey.

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