How to save money in college

Thursday, March 24, 2016

 For many of my friends that have graduated or are about to graduate this May, they also have to stress about finances along with the lack of job offers. Fortunately, because I had created an 'action plan' during my junior year of high school (as mentioned a previous blog post) finances don't play as much of a factor into the post-grad life gloom. Here are a few tips that helped me, as well as some from my friends, that allowed us to graduate debt free after college, or soon after. It should be noted that the tips below are for range for different socioeconomic backgrounds and are not guaranteed to work for every individual.

Tip #1) Do well in high school

This might sound like a no-brainer for many, but for me I regret not taking high school as serious as some of my other peers. Yes, I took IB and AP classes, but I had no idea what a GPA was until the beginning of my Junior year. Depending on the school that you go to and how it's run (quarters or semesters) you'll always hear the rumor that your GPA freezes in the final quarter. THIS IS NOT TRUE FRIENDS. I have seen many horror stories in high school where seniors have slacked off their last quarter and end up being rejected by their dream college after Prom. Even though Freshman year might seem far off from college it really isn't. Try new clubs, join a sport, and get your grades up. Remember though to try stuff not only because it will look good on your college applications- but because you have a general interest in them. Doing something you hate for 4 years isn't ideal people. 

Tip #2) Take IB, AP, or College Prep Classes in High School

You tied your tests together with string ties instead of staples.
Though these classes might seem daunting at times, taking higher level classes allowed me to graduate early from college (meaning no debt and getting out into the job market earlier than my peers). Remember friends this is FREE COLLEGE CLASSES that you can take right in the luxury of your school. If you're more on the 'creative' side than I suggest doing IB classes. IB test have multiple components included a teacher evaluation, a project (written or oral depending on the test you are taking), and than the exam itself. AP on the other hand is very straight forward. Depending on the test you might also have a small project to go along with the test. In my experience though, AP was more 'one and done' mentality. If you do well on the test-great-if not than try again next year to score better. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: There is the notion that IB classes don't transfer as well as AP or College Prep classes. This is not true. Though IB is geared to be more 'international' many schools do transfer these credits in. Before you assume that the college of your dreams accepts IB or AP credits ask the office of administration and check your schools website. By having done my research on what schools accepted IB and AP credit I came into college as a sophomore my first year of college. 

Tip #3)  Extra Curricular Activities

One of my teachers in high school told me that our number one job was to be students. We should aim to do well in class and only that. As a multi-tasker, this notion of simply doing one thing horrified me. Doing extra curricular's should be a reward. If you're doing well in school you should be able to do rewarding activities such as play on the basketball team or learn how to play an instrument. For me, I took piano lessons, was a Vice President of a student org, a member of Honors Society, and a reviewer of books for publishing companies. Yes, it might sound like I had a lot of my plate, but I used these activities as a reward for having completed little activities such as doing my math homework. These activities are not only beneficial towards your college application, but help shape your understanding of what you want to do while you're in college.

Being a part of groups that have scholarships can also be beneficial. Groups like the Optimist club, Girl Scouts, and the Rotary Club have annual scholarships to give to outstanding high school students. If you're interested in seeing what groups have these scholarships you can ask your high school counselor for a list (which they'll gladly provide). You'll be amazed at how many scholarships there are for you to apply for during Junior and Senior year of High School

Tip #4) Scholarships, Scholarships, and More Scholarships

As noted in the previous tip, joining a group has it's benefits both financially and academically. There are thousands of scholarships available for you no matter what your economic status is. Don't be afraid to apply for as many as possible. After all, it never hurts to try right? Applying for scholarships doesn't end when you've selected your college- you can continue to apply for scholarships (both outside and ones within your institution) throughout your time in college. Look at the scholarships that you high school offers, the institution that you're interested in going to offers, and other groups offer to high school and college students. You'll be surprised at how many scholarships you're qualified for and that sound like a blast. I had one friend apply and receive numerous scholarships that at the end of her academic career in college the school payed her back. I think of finding a college like shopping and scholarships like coupons. The more coupons you receive, the cheaper the price will be!

Tip #5) Work while you're in college

For many college students this is probably obvious but I wanted to add it onto the list. If you haven't already started working while in high school working in college is a great opportunity to try out different jobs both within and outside of your field of interest. Paid internships can be hard to find, but if you're lucky enough to snag one of these coveted jobs take it and thank your lucky stars. Remember though that with some scholarships you have to maintain a certain GPA so don't push yourself too hard that you might end up compromising your academic career. 

Tip #6) Ask yourself what you want out of college (housing)

Asking myself what I wanted out of college was a big factor for why I ultimately chose to go to a local college. Are you going to college to get away from your current town/ living situation? To try new adventures and meet knew people? Making a list of what your top priorities are important in deciding if the institution that you are going to is the correct one. For me, money played a large factor in why I stayed at my hometown.

 At the end of the day I chose my school because of the education I would be receiving and the scholarships I got from school. I decided that living with my parents for another four years was doable and that I would save my money up for after college in hopes of moving out. Everyone's list is going to be different. For some, living on campus is a top priority for them. For others like myself, saving money to study abroad for a semester or to have money after college was a priority.

With college will come different battles- especially financially. Know which battles you are able to fight and which ones you can wait for is crucial to know and can save you some extra dough.
f you're lucky enough to live by several colleges consider going to a community college or your local university. There is no harm in commuting to school. Plus when it comes to your breaks you can continue working at the jobs and create further networking that you established over the school year. If you are dead set into not living with your parents consider options of becoming your school RA were housing is paid for.

Tip #7) Take summer classes or do summer research 

It's important to know what your options are for taking classes. In the summer several institutions have discounted rates to get those extra credits you need. Though it might not sound too enjoyable studying on a beach during the summer, it can be done and is a feasible option. In my experience all my classes were taught online and lasted an average of 3-4 weeks. Taking a classes over the summer allowed me to work full time during the school year. 

If you're lucky enough to get into summer research this is another option to get paid in the summer while also getting quality experience in your field. Depending on the program that you go into, your pay check could range from 1,000-3,000 with perks including free housing, reduced or free meals at school, and even traveling.

Tip #8) Do the Math

This is tip is crucial. For some of my friends, it seems as though they chose their school blindly without knowing what the financial repercussions might be. Give yourself a budget of how much you can afford/spend each year and how long it will take to pay back loans. Remember that you need to be realistic too when it comes to this. When I originally did the Math I imagined having a job throughout my college career that payed $12 an hour. Obviously life happens and plans change so account for hiccups along the road. 

Until next time,

You Might Also Like


Follow by Email