GOING DOWN IN FRAMES: Learn from my mistakes

The Daily News

From academics to finances, there are potholes on the road to graduation that impact how much it will cost and how quickly you graduate. I know because I have hit almost all of them.

You’re in luck because you get to learn from my mistakes. 

Since it’s too late to do high school better and get all of tuition paid for, make sure you are wise about how you borrow money. One of the biggest mistakes students make is borrowing more money than they need. I’m included in that group of students. It’s nice to have the extra money just in case, but the temptation to spend it on unnecessary things during the school year is too high. Any more than what you need will cost you much more in the not-so-distant future. Any student that must take out private student loans should consider loans that allow you to pay off portions of the interest. It takes a bit of money out of the pocket, but it will lessen the weight of debt students experience after they graduate. 

Which prompts another tip: get a job. Preferably on campus. Get a job so it’s possible to pitch in some money to help pay for school or supplement the bad college habits that will likely develop. If possible, search on campus, because many of these jobs aren’t as intensive and may allow you to work on homework at times. Campus jobs also prevent you from working too much because of the 20-hour limit. Most good jobs get taken quickly, so if you strike out when searching in the fall, make sure you jump on opportunities quickly in the spring.

One of the best ways to set graduation back and increase the cost of education is failing to take enough classes per semester. Most majors at Ball State require 120 credits for graduation, which means a student needs to take an average of 15 credit hours each semester to graduate in four years. Please, take more. Maybe not 18 credit hours, but try and stay around 16 for some wiggle room. My situation has deteriorated to the point of only taking six credit hours in the Fall Semester to graduate. There are always good reasons why these bumps in the road occur, but there are better reasons to make sure they don’t.

Every student with some disposable income needs to make some type of budget and use it. The amount of money spent on fast food in my time at Ball State would make financial advisers weep. Textbooks are available at the Ball State bookstore, but any purchases from there will be filled with regret. Textbooks can be had for far cheaper through internet retailers like Amazon.com or Half.com. However, try to wait until you have been to class first to prevent situations of buying textbooks that aren’t necessary.

It can be incredibly attempting to take the YOLO attitude to the extreme with spending in college. But it’s an investment and students shouldn’t expect the same spending attitudes adopted before college. You are supposed to be scraping by to have a better future. Please, don’t make the same mistakes that I’ve experienced. If you do, you’ll understand why in four years.


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