I get it: you want to go to one of the top universities without saying no to the parties and the fun social life that you can post about on Instagram. However, here’s the reality: they don’t give away that degree for free. You can be the smartest person in your high school and have no trouble getting full financial aid, but for most of us mortals, the difficulty starts when you want to focus on your studies and also enjoy a healthy social life but you’re not a trust-fund kid. In addition to the rising tuition rates, you need money for all school materials, housing, and daily life expenses like food and transportation. So, what you are gonna do? You take out your first loan.
Forget working while you are at university
Not everyone is entrepreneurial by the age of 20 to go and can start a company in their parent’s basement that will pay for their tuition. There’s enough pressure being a student and trying to get decent grades. You should enjoy being a young adult as long as you can.
The worrying trend of university students dealing with depression or anxieties is there for a reason. You don’t have to sugarcoat it, but the truth is that living up to the certain level of self-imposed (or externally-imposed) expectations can put a lot of pressure on your shoulders. Trust me, the last thing you want to do is to overwork yourself after your classes and experience burn-out or collapse way before you even earn your degree.
Take care of yourself
I am telling you this based on my own experience. When I was 18, I worked at a call center and taught English to kids. Sounds glamorous, right? It wasn’t. My university life was about not enjoying those years or having fun like most others did. Don’t get me wrong, I did go to some parties, although it was usually was just me sitting there with a glass of cheap drink, stressing about the next day’s tight schedule. I am not saying that it’s not beneficial to learn how to make your own money and support yourself early on, but to be honest, sometimes I felt like back then I would have exchanged lives with those who had time to study for exams and could buy nice meals out every so often. (In college, I subsisted on pasta and instant soup, because those were pretty damn cheap; yet unfortunately, they caused malnutrition and some other illnesses in the future.) So please, don’t overwork that early on in your life and try to enjoy every single moment of your college years, because, I know it’s a cliché but it’s true: they ain’t coming back.
Don’t take the first loan that comes along
We can agree that while your studies are important for you, and you need money to go to school, sometimes people take the first option that they’re offered for the amount they need without thinking about the consequences. Your parents may know a little about student loans, or your school likely provided you with a few options. But what if there are more options out there for you? What should you pay attention to so that you don’t end up in a bad loan or one that will require backbreaking debt payments throughout your working years?
I have to tell you, there are consequences to bad decisions: imagine still paying your student loan at age 35 or 45, when you should be putting that money toward your holiday in the Bahamas, for a new Tesla or a penthouse apartment. Not fun. The worst part of the story is when you check your balance, it’s still almost the same as it’s been in the last 5 years due to interest rates.
Know where to seek advice
You don’t have to do everything alone! There are third-party doc-prep companies like DocuPop, who help loan borrowers consolidate their loans for a better repayment plan. That means more cash staying in your pocket, my friend! There are so many opportunities and rules you don’t know about, but there are companies that have all the knowledge and can save you the time you would be researching on your own (you know, so you have more time to study or play sports with friends.)
As parents often say to us until we are 18, “All you have to do is focus on your studies!” Don’t forget that, and use this saying as a mantra during your university years. As someone just told me the other day, “There’s always help out there–you just need to find the right person who can help you.”