It’s been a year since I’ve graduated college and even though I’m not using both of my degrees to the fullest extent that I could, I still feel as though I have some knowledge I can pass on. So, let’s talk about some takeaways from the wonderful world of student loan debt.
Books are one of the easiest expense bullets you can dodge if done right. For instance, you DO NOT have to buy every book you are assigned in college. The biggest advice I could give is first off, don’t buy all of your books until you get the syllabus for said class. On top of that, make sure you are paying attention to how much you will be using that book. I can’t tell you how many teachers I’ve had that wanted me to buy a book so we could go over one chapter from it. Not kidding, only one chapter.
If you do have to buy books then here are some buying tips: You don’t have to buy the newest book. Any used book will do the trick. And unless you really like the class and want to add to your personal library, it’s better to rent. I saved at least 100 or more dollars a semester renting used. Every now and then I liked to buy a book just to sell back later. But I would only advise this if the book is 20 dollars or less. If you’re lucky, you’ll maybe get five percent of what you paid for them. Otherwise, it’s not worth it.
Living On and Off Campus
I decided not to live on campus to save what money I could. There were many pros and cons to not living on campus but here are some of the bigger takeaways.
Pros: When living off campus in an apartment, I didn’t have to worry about moving my stuff out every semester. I didn’t have to scramble around packing up my stuff and had a room by myself which was nice for privacy. Because I didn’t live on campus, I also didn’t have a meal plan. At the end of the day I only paid for my classes and my books. I still had student loans, but they were very low compared to many of my friends.
Cons: I didn’t really get the college experience that many of my friends did. Yes, I hung out with my friends a lot throughout the week, but because I was a 10 to 15 minute walk away and it would get late, I would have to head home before dark. There were also many campus events that I would miss out on. And in the end, it felt like many of my college friends were a lot closer with each other because they were on campus.
In short, If you really want that college experience or you’re out of state, on campus is the best option. But if you’re in state and want to save money on your educational adventure, off campus is the best solution.
Using Your Degree
Graduation sneaks up on you. I have always found it odd how common knowledge it is that people don’t use their degree, but they still go to school for said degree anyway. I was one of those people and as I got closer towards the end, I realized I didn’t want to be one of those people. I’m not using my degree now, but on different terms. What I mean by that is that I tried to seek guidance before the end was nigh. I decided to go to my school career center and encourage everyone to speak to a career coach or stop by their university career center in order to get a better idea of what the job market is like as well as gaining a confidence boost. I want to be an author one day or even have my career in the writing field. But obviously finding a career in writing is hard when you’re not able to intern due to working, or you don’t have a masters. Because of this, I had to step out of the idea that I was going to get the job I wanted immediately. As much as I don’t like to say it, I didn’t have any experience in the writing field. Yes, I studied the art for four years, but that doesn’t mean much when I haven’t put myself in that work environment.
So what do you do? My answer is start building a portfolio. If you know you won’t get the bigger jobs, go for the small ones. You have to be patient, but the more experience you gain, big or small, the more likely you are to get that job.
Above anything else, take care of yourself. Make sure you keep yourself safe whether you are walking to your temporary home at night, or drinking at that party on the weekend. Remember that you matter, even if it feels like you don’t. Don’t be afraid to seek help. You are spending thousands of dollars a semester to go to that school and have access to their resources. Counseling centers are a big help. If it feels like they are asking you to answer a lot of questions, it’s because they want to know how to give you the best care.
Please understand, IT IS NOT THE END IF YOU FAIL. There are so many other outlets if you don’t graduate college. If you drop out, you can still go back to school. Maybe not that particular school, but you can still get the education you need somewhere else.
I say all of this because I’ve seen many students who were too scared to fail either self harm or attempt to end their life because of the pressures that may come from failing. But understand that it is not the end of the world if you fail. You will be okay. Everything will be okay.
I hope whatever knowledge I pass on is helpful to those starting college. Good luck to all of those college bound, and those who choose other paths.