college

Stay in Touch With Your College Professors

Author: Michelle Ioannou, Career Advice

The final is over. You want to run out of the classroom and never set foot in it again. We all know that feeling. But, don’t waste this opportunity — don’t just burn a bridge with your professor.

Professors are great people to add to your network. And college is a fantastic time to start adding to that network. The class you took in college should be the first step to cultivating a professional relationship with your professor. Why?

They’re experts 
Whether or not they’re experts in the field you want to go into, they know what they’re talking about (for the most part at least). Use this to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to ask them how whatever topic the course is on can help you in your professional life down the line. Especially if they are in the field you want to go into, pick their brain even more. Find out everything you need to know, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

They can be your references
Chances are if you’re applying for your first job, your list of professional references are slim. But, professors can vouch for your demeanor and work ethic. List them. Establishing a relationship with them will let them take that recommendation one step further, resulting in them being able to truly attest to how you should get that job.

They have contacts
And their contacts can become part of your network as well. When your network becomes bigger, your opportunities become bigger. Plus, one of their contacts can have your dream job, or help you on the path to reaching your career goals.

They know of job openings
Former students reach out to their old professors all the time with job openings. If your ex-professor is aware that you’re looking for a certain job, and one comes across his desk that could be a great fit, of course he’s going to send it to you. They also have friends in various fields, who will know of job openings as well.

They can help you professionally
College professors know about the transition from college to the real world. They know that they are preparing their students for more than just passing tests. Ask them to review your resume. Ask them for their opinion on your cover letter. Ask them where you should be looking for jobs. They just may know more than you think.

Why American Millennials in College Deserve More Than the Cost of Education

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Current Events/Politics

When you were a college student, did you work? Or, if you’re currently a college student, what do you do for work?

I’m sure you’re tired of the questions — the ones that sound like “How are you paying for school? College is just so expensive,” and “How are you going to pay off those student loans? Better start paying them now.” While they are all coming from well-intentioned “adultier adults,” they are sure to grate on you after a while.

But the truth of the matter is that the cost of college today almost requires the average student to work in order to pay that aforementioned tuition.

Recently, ABODO, a startup that specializes in helping potential renters (including college students) with finding local, affordable apartments, released “The Old College Try,” a report based on statistics surrounding working college students. The statistics are astounding, but honestly not surprising considering the current state of the economy.

By the report’s definition, a “working student” is a “student in a two- or four-year undergraduate degree-granting program who works 27 weeks per year.” The report goes on to indicate that “52% of working students in the United States” fit the above definition. Do you? 

In addition to work, these students are of course still determined to do whatever it takes to get their respective educations. According to the report, “almost 25% of students are paying for college with some of their own money, while only 11% of students are not paying for college with any of their own money. Students are spending most of their money on food (83%), books (70.7%), transportation (70.7%), bills (57.7%), tuition (50.7%) and housing (49.8%).”

But, let’s stop talking about money for just a second… and let’s talk about time.

Between classwork and homework, papers, exams and extracurriculars (which have become almost necessary for any college student to put on their resumes), students’ weeks are consumed. Not to mention, college is not just for classroom learning and extracurriculars, either. The friendships you make in college have the potential to lead to lifelong friendships, even if you’re getting together in a different way than you were before, when you were students. But socializing, like anything else, is another time commitment, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Then add a job to a typical college student’s list of commitments — which forces us to take a hard look at probably the report’s most startling statistic: “the largest portion of students attending both public and private schools work between 31 and 40 hours a week.”

40 hours a week? That sounds a lot like the definition of “full-time.” The college experience is meant to get students ready for the working world and to make them more well-rounded, giving them education both in the classroom and — cliché I know — in the “school of life.” It’s not meant to launch students into full-time work before joining the world of full-time work.

Which brings us back to money. The cost of college has skyrocketed to the point that students need to work full-time hours in order to earn their degrees — and, in turn, overloading their schedules, possibly missing out on important lessons outside of the classroom, and, according to this report from the University of Georgia, not getting enough sleep.

So, what are we to do? What needs to change, to be regulated? Is there a need for greater government involvement in the cost of college? What opportunities should be made a priority?

I’m not saying I have the answers. But there’s one thing I can say for sure: in terms of both time and money, our country’s college students deserve better.

How to Make the Frightening Transition From College to Adult Life

Adulting, Author: #NAMB Guest Author

Making the transition from college life to adult life can be difficult, especially if you were one of the partiers who stayed up all night and then crammed for the exams in the final hours. Adult life may seem like it is fun, but it’s filled with responsibilities, stress and sometimes even anxiety as you learn to handle all types of situations on your own. But, there are some ways to make transitioning from college life to adult life just a little bit easier for you.

Cut back on parties
In your college days, you may have partied from dusk till dawn, but those days are now just a distant memory. As you enter adult life, you do not want to party that entire time because, after all, you do have to wake up and go to work in the morning. While you do not have to stop partying altogether, you should at least not party throughout the week. Save it for the weekend when you can go out and enjoy the company of your friends. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a cold one on Wednesday night, you should do so in moderation to ensure that you can still handle your responsibilities in the morning. You’ll save money, too!

Get on a routine
Not everyone can be on the same routine, so you need to figure out what works for you and stick to it. While you do not have to plan your day down to every minute of every hour, you should have an idea of when you need to do things. For example, you go to bed every night between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. and you wake up every morning between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. The more you stick to a routine, the more time you will have throughout your day. Make sure you plan for time to exercise, laundry and other activities that may be part of your daily life.

Keep your home free from clutter
If you have a lot of clutter in your home, it can cause you to feel anxious and distract you from the things that you need to do. Take some time to clean up that clutter and keep your home as organized as possible. The less clutter the better. If you never knew that clutter could affect you, a 2011 study out of the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute showed that when people are surrounded by stuff they do not want or need, it has a negative effect on the brain’s ability to process information and focus.

Turn off the electronics
From smartphones to TVs, electronics exist in just about every home. While you may have been stuck to the side of your phone in college, now that you have transitioned into the adult world, you need to make sure you unplug these devices and take time for yourself. Too much time on electronic devices can negatively impact your mind and ability to focus on the things you need to. Step away every day for about an hour or two and do something that you want to do. Some great activities to consider include walking, heading to the gym, reading a book or even interacting with your friends in a face-to-face setting.

Get your student debt under control
Did you know that the average graduate in the Class of 2017 has over $20,000 in student debt? If you are anything like me, you are probably trying to wrap your head around your student loan bill. Student loans can be complicated. But the first thing you should do is create a spreadsheet where you document the different types of student loans you have. Do you have federal student loans? What about private student debt? What is your interest rate? In your spreadsheet, you should outline the type of student loan, interest rate, monthly payment and total interest cost. Next, setup auto-pay so that you never make a late payment. Lastly, don’t be afraid to prepay student debt. Both federal and private educational loans do not have prepayment fees.

You’ll have to take care of yourself
In your college life, you were used to your friends waking you up, having someone always by your side and being able to eat ramen noodles in your dorm. Now that you no longer live in your dorm room, you are responsible for yourself and taking care of yourself. This means that you will need to grocery shop and cook food day in and out to make sure you receive your nutrients and stay hydrated. In addition, you will have to worry about waking yourself up for work in the morning because there will be no one else nearby to do it for you. The things that you were once used to in college are now going to be things that you must do on your own.

Once you graduate college, a lot is going to change as you transition into the real world. It is important that you not only understand what to expect, but that you are ready to make the changes necessary to help you grow and prosper in your new adult life. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you will be responsible for your actions and also responsible for making sure that you show up to work every day and handle all of your obligations — something you may not have needed to do in college.

 

About the Author:


Lauren Davidson is a millennial transitioning from college to adult life, working to pay down her student loan debt through freelancing.

 

What I Wish I Knew When I Graduated College

Adulting, Author: Michelle Ioannou

There I was, a glimmer-eyed college graduate excited about the world before her…

JK who am I kidding, I was petrified. I loved college, and I didn’t want to leave.

I guess it hasn’t been that bad since I left. I am beyond grateful for my job, I continue to utilize my vacation days, and I even have a couple of side hustles.

But, that doesn’t change the fact that I had no clue what was next when I got my diploma in my hand. And if you’re a recent college grad who also doesn’t know what’s next, well, that’s normal. Here are some things I wish I knew then though, and hopefully it helps you too.

You don’t need to have your life planned at 22 
I was such a different person at 22 years old than I am now in my later 20s. You think differently, you act differently and you have such a different perspective on life. Plus, as much as we want to have control over this thing called life, we don’t. We’re here for the ride, folks, and to see where life takes us.

Take advantage of (appropriate) opportunities in your path
Don’t think that anything is below you. You never know what the experience will teach you, or who you may meet while doing it. Everything can be a resume or cover letter enhancer, if you word it right. You’re still young, there’s plenty of time to change careers or move on to something else if this opportunity doesn’t work out.

Utilize your social media 
And no, I don’t mean this in terms of using it to keep in touch with your college friends. Use it to network. Engage in conversations with people in your field. Look for great opportunities you can act on. Show off your knowledge on a specific subject. And, of course, college graduation is a perfect time to untag yourself and delete all of those pictures from a frat party.

It’s okay to take time off
You may feel pressured to, but you don’t have to go right into working 9-5. Take the summer off. Travel. Go to the beach. Lounge around the house. You just worked your butt off to get a degree — you deserve it.

You will get rejected
And it’ll suck. The job hunt in general sucks. You’ll ask yourself why all your friends are getting jobs, but you’re not. This is all normal. We all get rejected. It just means that the job wasn’t meant to be, cliche but true. Remember, a career doesn’t define you.

You will miss college, and that’s okay
But at the same time, you’ll see which friendships are meant to last; who you’ll still see after being out of college for four years. But, instead of being wasted together at 3a.m.,  you’re now drunk at 6p.m. at Happy Hour… and that’s okay.

Student Debt Secrets: A Chat With a Student Loan Expert

Adulting, Author: Mary Grace Donaldson

It’s no secret to anyone who doesn’t live under a rock: millennials have racked up a lot of student debt. According to the Huffington Post, student debt rose 84% between 2008 and 2014, and seven out of ten members of the collegiate class of 2014 graduated with debt (and not the same type of debt we’ve already chatted about).

While we don’t have the solution to the problem of the price of a college education — and we can’t eliminate your student debt, we brought in an expert to help you manage it. Drew Cloud, founder of The Student Loan Report, answered some of our questions about student loan debt.

Why have millennials earned so much student loan debt? Is it really all our fault?
In the past decade or so, society has placed an increasing importance on getting a college degree. This has caused many students who would be better off entering a trade or some other job that doesn’t require a four-year degree to shell out big bucks or take on large amounts of debt (usually both) to go to college. Also, students are increasingly majoring in overcrowded and non-rewarding majors that lead to poor job prospects and, therefore, lower salaries — making it much harder to be successful in student loan repayment.

Finally, possibly the greatest reason for the explosion in student debt in the United States is the federal government’s system of giving it out. The government has almost no eligibility requirements, and any student going to an eligible school (most of them) can receive student loans. The government does not look at creditworthiness, high school GPA, intended major, or anything else when giving out student loans. If you go to an eligible school, you can receive a federal student loan with the same interest rate as everyone else.

How did you get started in this field? Why do you want to help millennials in particular?
When struggling with my own student loan debt, I constantly searched for a site that not only gave non-biased advice on how to manage student loan debt but also one that provided coverage of the latest student loan news.

The student loan industry is always changing. Laws are passed, new private companies spring up, etc. When I couldn’t find the site that I thought would help myself, I ventured out to start it to help students and their families everywhere make better decisions when it comes to paying for higher education and managing student loan debt.

What are the best techniques you can offer to help eliminate student loan debt?
The best way to eliminate student loan debt really depends on each individual’s situation.

If you have a well-paying job and a solid credit score, refinancing your student loans is one of the best things you can do. If you are eligible to refinance, you will typically receive a lower interest rate, saving you thousands over the life of your loan(s). You can choose to shorten your repayment term to expedite repayment or extend your term to lower your monthly payments. You can also consolidate multiple student loans (both private and federal) into one loan when refinancing.

It should be noted, however, that when you refinance your federal student loans with a private lender (the only option there is) you will lose certain benefits such as access to income-driven repayment plans, forbearance and deferment protections, and student loan forgiveness. Those who are eligible for refinancing, though, will likely never use any of these benefits.

Speaking of income-driven repayment plans, this is one of the best options for those struggling with repayment. These plans limit your monthly payments to 10% to 20% of your discretionary income – making them much more affordable. If you do not have a job, or have a very low-paying job, you may be able to pay $0 per month. These plans also offer student loan forgiveness after 20 to 25 years.

Like refinancing, there is a downside. When you make smaller monthly payments, you will pay down less of your principal balance and more interest will accrue each month. This means you will end up paying much more over the life of the loan unless you receive forgiveness at some point, which I wouldn’t recommend depending on. You should see income-driven repayment plans as a way to lower your payments until you can get back on your feet and start paying down yo

Aside from refinancing and enrolling in income-driven repayment plans, my other suggestion is to try to reorganize your budget to free up some money to put towards your debt. Also, if you happen to find yourself with some extra cash (whether you get a bonus at work, sell some stuff, or win the lottery ((!!!!!)), you should consider putting it towards your debt. This will lower your principal and less interest will accrue.

How have you helped millennials tackle their student loan debt (i.e. success stories)?
Though I haven’t been able to work directly with millennials as much as I’d like, I do like to think that my website has helped lots of students and families make better decisions regarding their student loans.

I have consulted many of my friends and have helped them get back on track with their repayment if they were struggling, and helped those doing well financially figure out the best way to attack their debt while still doing other important things like investing.

Do paying off student loans after college help or hinder your credit score?
Honestly, it is really hard to tell. It all depends on the individual’s situation. If you make every payment on time and pay off your debt, there is a chance you will see your credit score drop. The reason for this is that one of your accounts will close, thereby lowering your credit mix which determines 10% of your credit score.

If you are successful in repayment, though, that will always be reflected in your credit history, and lenders will see that positive repayment history. If you consistently miss payments or default on your student loans, you can definitely expect to see your credit score drop.

Should you start paying off loans while still in college? Or are you better off waiting until you’re finished?
If you can afford to put money towards your student loans in college, this is one of the best things you can do to save money in the long run. As mentioned previously, as you make extra payments towards your student loans, your principal decreases and each subsequent interest charge will be less. Making payments in college is especially important for those with unsubsidized federal student loans as these accumulate interest while you are still in school.

If you don’t finish paying while you’re in college… will we have to keep paying these off into our ‘30s?
This also is highly dependent on the individual. Those who are able to secure well-paying jobs could realistically pay off their loans in just a few years. Those with less income, on the other hand, may be paying of their student loans well into their ’40s (scary stuff!).

Can you recommend any online resources for millennials paying off student loans – blogs, Twitter accounts, or apps?
Here are some of my favorite resources for student loans:

Are there any government assistance programs to help millennials pay off student loans?
As mentioned previously, there are options for borrowers struggling to make payments such as income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness. You can learn more about these here.

What about Uncle Sam? What are the tax implications of paying off student loans?
There are a few things to consider with taxes when paying off student loans. First there are two tax credits for higher education expenses — the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit. These allow you to write off expenses for tuition, books, supplies, etc. You can also deduct student loan interest payments from your taxes. To learn more about all of these tax write-offs, check out this page.

 


Drew Cloud is a journalist who typically writes about student loans, personal finance and education. He always had a knack for reporting throughout high school and college where he picked up his topics of choice. Since his graduation from college, Drew wanted to funnel his creative energy into an independent, authoritative news outlet covering an exclusive and developing industry. Thus, the Student Loan Report was born. You can reach out to him at drew@studentloans.net.