college student finance tips

Peddle Bell Tower II

This post is part of The Money Writers‘ college student finance tips group writing project.

Everyone likes to think that with the passage of time they become an expert. Simply by virtue of their own experience, they become an expert in an area that could be the subject of full-time study.  That’s what giving financial advice to students seems like to me – but I’m going to give it a shot as part of a group writing project by The Money Writers.  I only have three, and in all fairness it’s really only one idea broken down three ways.

1.  Consider if you really need to go to THAT (or any) college. I’ve thought about this idea a lot recently.  I have a relative who’s going to school for art.  A very expensive private school… for art.  Does that make sense?  I suppose it might.  Maybe you interact with other artists, you get to hone your skills.  But do you need an expensive private school education in art?  I majored in mathematics.  I needed help – you need instructors to explain things.  If you’re a writer, you need someone to teach you how to spell, writer gooder, and so on.  If you want to be a dentist, you aim (I hope) on attending dental school.  But if you want to work in accounting, trust me – the Big 4 are hiring just as many people out of state schools as private schools.  You will all make the same.  And if you’re an artist – maybe you should give a couple of years over to art before going to school.  Just sayin’.

2.  Choose a major based on your needs, not your idle ‘wants’. A recent commentator said that they needed to attend a $40,000 a year graphic design school.  If you want to be a doctor, you can afford to gamble on taking on student loan debt.  Your future earning potential is high.  If you plan to be a high school teacher, you might want to think twice about taking on huge debt.  Choose a major based on your needs – or more importantly, go back to step 1.

3.  Don’t bite off more than you can chew. I imagine this is the simplest advice, but the most often ignored in our status-hungry society.  If you cannot afford a $50,000 per year education – if you have to scrape and pull together every last dime – ask yourself:  could you go to a less expensive school?  Would it cripple you beyond belief?  Will people revere your Yale biology degree and mock your Michigan biology degree?  I doubt it.  Take a look at what you can afford.  Remember:  your education will help you land your first j

I rejected a lot of prestigious schools to attend a state school and – very honestly – have never had a moment’s regret for my decision.  My choice would not be for everyone.  But in today’s world, with an uncertain economy, an unsure future and unrealistic expectations, I have to ask:  wouldn’t the best financial tip be not to waste money on more education than you need?

Check out the rest of The Money Writers‘ college student finance tips:

photo credit: lucianvenutian