What I Wish I Knew Before I Went To College

A few weeks ago, I polled a few family and friends about their college experience. Let’s call them Erika and Yvonne.

What should new students know about saving money in college?

Erika: Numbers are black & white, but living is not. Part of the college experience is the social aspect, including parties, joining certain organizations, taking extra classes, traveling, studying abroad, etc.  These are the hidden costs of college that most people aren’t prepared for.

Yvonne: I think I’d just recommend balance and moderation. Stay in the moment, but do your best to set your future self up for success too.

Would you do it again? 

Erika: Yes, I would do it again. I enjoyed school and learning, but I would definitely change some things like securing an internship and studying abroad.

Yvonne: I’d definitely recommend living on campus the first two years if you’re able. Even though I hated college, living on campus was hands down the best experience I’ve had. 

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What I Wish I Knew Before Going To College (Money Management Included)

I actually started this blog because of my student loan debt. Living with so much debt impacts your life—where you can live, how much you can save, whether or not your ends will get to meet one day.

If and when I generate any income from it, I’ll give all of it to Navient. Every last cent.

If I never make money from it, I’ll be content with the personal finance knowledge I’ve gained since I first started.

I’d really prefer to make money though.

Recently, I asked a few friends to share their perspectives on college. Given what they know now, would they do everything the same?

Here’s what they said.

Let’s call them Mike and Natalie.

What was your major, and did you stay in-state for school?

Mike: I double majored in History and Japanese Studies. I stayed in-state.

Natalie: I double majored in Biochemistry and Spanish. Yes, I stayed in-state, but I didn’t want to.

Why did you choose the school you did?  

Mike: I liked that they had a language program on campus since I wanted to learn Japanese and possibly study abroad for a long time.

Natalie: It was the best option for me at the time.

Given what you know now, would you approach college the same?

Mike: Yes, I would approach it the same because I had the privilege of attending a college prep school that assisted me with the process.

They made sure to motivate and encourage us to always have college as the end goal after high school. However, one thing I would change would be to apply to more scholarships. I applied to a few but felt that I could’ve had less loans if I buckled down and applied to more.

Natalie: No, I would not approach college the same. I would have done a more practical major through another university. 

Read moreWhat I Wish I Knew Before Going To College (Money Management Included)

8 Ways To Make Sure Your College Degree Is Valuable

A few years ago, my brother came to me for advice. He was a few credits short of earning his college degree, and he felt a little cheated.

Most of us know the statistics about the economic benefits of college. As a general rule, we understand that your level of education correlates with your wealth and annual income—at least that’s what we’re told.

Statistical data links wealth, health, and happiness to post-secondary education completion.

With a college degree the world is our oyster! Right? Am I right?

If I could relive the conversation with my brother all over again, here’s what I might have told him instead. Here’s what I think you should know about making sure your college experience is valuable. 

Read more8 Ways To Make Sure Your College Degree Is Valuable