How to Get a Great Value Out of College

What small tips and tricks have you found that made a difference in your personal finance life? What great article did you just read? Found a great blog?

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Ms Kitty Cliche
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How to Get a Great Value Out of College

Postby Ms Kitty Cliche » Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:19 pm

1) You do not HAVE to go to college. Go to college because you want to be an academic, or the career you desire requires it. Do not go to college to find yourself, or because you are supposed to, or because it is a ticket to a better life. There are many other options besides college that are viable, life-enriching experiences. Join the peace corps, apprentice in a trade (they actually pay you to learn stuff), get a job in a field you think you might like and see if you do - lots of options abound.

2) Unless you are going into a high-paying field, go to community college for the first two years. You will immediately halve your costs just on tuition. To get the best value, identify your eventual university and check out their transfer guide. Most schools will tell you exactly what will transfer. Even better, check out universities that have an articulation agreement with your community college - this means that as long as you complete the associate's degree, you will have completed whatever the core curriculum for the first two years (in a traditional 4 year program).

3) Plan your classes out at the beginning. Work with a counselor, or, if you can't find a good one, a tenure track professor in your major department. They will know which semesters certain classes are offered so you will always be able to complete your sequence and you won't end up taking the dreaded fifth year.

4) You don't have to work unpaid internships, but you should get summer jobs in your field. Want to go into business? Your first summer job could be working as a receptionist or file clerk - giving you pay AND actual business experience. Accounting? Check out H&R block and take your "summers" in spring semester.

5) Even better than number 4, some jobs will just straight up pay your tuition. This is how I did it - my loans were entirely to pay for childcare so I could attend class. This can be tricky though. It takes a very disciplined person to work full time and attend college while maintaining high marks.

5) Make friends with a tenured professor in your major. Do it NOW. They will be your best entree into your field - providing you with an inside track to work at the school that is invaluable, as well as references for the real world.

6) Borrow if you HAVE to, but understand the terms. Make payments while you are in school if possible - if nothing else, prevent the interest from building. DO NOT live on credit cards. You will have to live like a poor person, even if you are not used to it.

Tightwad
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Re: How to Get a Great Value Out of College

Postby Tightwad » Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:52 pm

7. Pick a major that is useful in the real world. Degrees like liberal arts, humanities, English Lit, etc are practically worthless unless you plan to teach that subject.

8. When you see the credit card vendors on campus hawking a free t-shirt if you sign up for a card......just say 'No thanks!" & keep walking.

DoingHomework
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Re: How to Get a Great Value Out of College

Postby DoingHomework » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:14 am

Tightwad wrote:7. Pick a major that is useful in the real world. Degrees like liberal arts, humanities, English Lit, etc are practically worthless unless you plan to teach that subject.


And if you do plan to teach in one of those fields, make sure you have a plan for how you will compete with the thousands of highly educated and highly experienced teachers in those fields who have been laid off recently and are now desperate for a job.

Tightwad wrote:8. When you see the credit card vendors on campus hawking a free t-shirt if you sign up for a card......just say 'No thanks!" & keep walking.


Yeah, sort of. But getting a credit card as a college student is easy and is a good way to begin to establish credit. Just make damn sure you use it responsibly. If you have any doubt about that, just say "No thanks!"

Ms Kitty Cliche
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Re: How to Get a Great Value Out of College

Postby Ms Kitty Cliche » Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:17 am

regarding #7 - you can pursue these AND have job prospects IF you double major with something that makes it useful.

For instance, I minored in Fine Art, but majored in Accounting. This actually makes me more marketable, because not only can I do accounting, but I also have creative skills, which is not something typically seen in math-oriented people.

I have another friend who double majored in Graphic Design and Engineering. She works for a video game company designing physical objects that have to react with real-world physics.

Want to be a musician? Minor in business, and you could work as an agent, helping you build valuable contacts to launch your own band, or just provide a great day job to support you if the music gig never really pans out.

If history is your gig, think about getting an associates and then pursuing a trade like carpentry, welding/metal work, or the like. Then you could launch a career as a set builder for period pieces, or work your trade but freelance in recreation pieces.


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