Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, I had a conversation with a family member who is a freshmen in college at a pricey university in Boston. She is worried that her degree choice will not land her a high enough paying position where she will be able to pay off her high student loans.
Although I was impressed that she had such a mature concern about her financial future, there are a few things she could do to ensure her financial well-being out of college:
- Don't get overwhelmed! – Remember that an education will provide an excellent Return On Investment over the long-run. Regardless of the average salary your profession pays out of college, there are always options to choose from.
- Plant your seeds in the job market - Even as a freshmen in college, you can set yourself up for a job right out of college. You have probably heard the horror stories of graduates who were unable set find a job for years; and others who had a position waiting for them as soon as they graduated. Be part of the latter population! An Internship is a great way to accomplish this. Remember not to focus strictly on getting the highest GPA, focus on getting the practical skills you need in the job environment.
- Do your homework – If you are concerned about your student loans, the best thing you can do is go talk to your financial aid officer. Although this thought may scare you, financial aid officers are there to help you. They have resources and information about making the right choices about consolidation or changing your loan terms. Establish a relationship with your financial aid officer and learn as much as you can. Also, you can take a personal finance course which will help develop a better understanding of handling money. Unfortunately, this is one skill that is extremely important in the real world, but that school does not automatically teach you.
The average person will change job functions three to five times in their lifetime. Who knows what might happen after your undergraduate career – you may go to medical school, join the marines, or start your own business. But the bottom line is that you need an education to get there and 9 out of 10 times, you will need a loan to get one.