Graduation is quickly approaching. Time to make decisions. Here's some things to consider if you are a high school graduate or a parent of a high school graduate. These are some money mistakes high school grads tend to make...
1. Everyone Should Go to College. College isn’t for everyone. Some people would be better off going to a technical school (think paralegal, dental hygienist, law enforcement, or pursing some form of apprenticeship (think plumber, electrician, carpentry, etc.). Financial aid is out there. If you do go to college make sure to educate yourself. Financial Aid link: http://www.finaid.org/ If you do go to college be very careful of student loans. If you have to take out student loans consider what you need every semester or year to graduate. Make sure the degree you choose will allow you to pay back the student loans in a timely manner. 200k in debt for a profession where the average starting salary is 35k is probably not a good idea. Consider too going to community college to take your basic courses and living at home for the first 2 years. Then transfer to a 4 year university to finish your bachelor's degree.
2. You Should Play It Safe. Taking calculated risks can be a good thing. If you need to change majors do so only once. Choose a major that will allow you to pursue a career. Being a career college student shouldn’t be your goal either. And yet don’t forget to have fun! Alcohol and parties are typically a part of the college experience. Don’t let alcohol become your life. If you do partake in such activities do so in moderation. Don’t allow alcoholism or drug addiction to affect the rest of your life. Saying “No” no matter the peer pressure is okay particularly to drugs. A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or convictions on drug possession can seriously hinder your career path as well as create havoc in your educational path. What you CAN do during this season of life is develop good studying, spiritual, and life habits. Sleeping is also important for the sake of your health, studies, and relationships. Weigh the matters life presents before you.
3. It’s All About Networking. No, I don’t mean your computer network. I’m talking about connecting with people, making friends, and creating a human network. Consider networking with people that are different than you and outside of your immediate group of friends. This will help you grow as a person by learning more about yourself and also bring great satisfaction in a variety of friendships. Join several interest clubs or consider joining a fraternity/sorority. Often time’s job opportunities will open up as people recruit or recommend those they know.
4. It’s Also All About Experience. Not working while in school is a bad idea. Sure enjoy the “college experience” but also keep in mind job experience matters in the real world. There are millions of job applicants and tough competition in the job market. Experience in the work force including an internship in your field of choice increases your chances to distinguish yourself. Often internships lead to job offers once a degree is completed. In the summers consider taking basic courses at the community college while busting your butt working a summer job. Summers ARE NOT time to travel the country, go to Europe for 2 months, just sit around playing video games, sleep all day, go to the beach, lounge around the pool, or go shopping. Time to grow up and realize that high school is behind you. Welcome to the real world.
5. Not All Degrees Are The Same. Location, location, location. I learned this the hard way. A degree from an unknown university verses one of the larger more well-known schools is not the same in the real world. Carefully consider if you do go to college where you will attend. Also carefully consider your major and/or minor. Perhaps consider going to a community college first and then transferring to finish up your degree at a 4-year school. Teaching is a noble field and the benefits are great (summer’s off anyone?). But make sure you’re becoming a teacher for the right reasons. Engineering is a great field but do you have the math and science skills necessary to succeed in that major? What value does a minor in Philosophy really add to your career or income potential? Is it worth graduating in 4.5, 5, or more years to get that extra minor?
Check out this link on May 2013 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates and the “Annual Mean Wage” column or click on a specific occupation title for more details. Another good resource is www.glassdoor.com for looking up jobs by company and title. Also check out www.indeed.com to look average salaries by job title.
Hope this helps. What do you think?
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