We reviewed the pros and cons of attending a traditional college, including the financial challenges many face. Despite the downside and challenges, college is the right choice for many. If you decide that college is right for you, here are suggestions to optimize the experience.
Overcoming Financial Burdens of College
- OPM (Other people’s money). Not your daddy’s! If you can get someone else to pay for your college education, that is your best option. This comes in the form of scholarships and grants.
- Explore all forms of financial aid, including student work programs.
- Select the school that is the best value for the degree you are pursuing. The most expensive school may not equal the best education.
- Borrow using federal loans first. The rates and repayment terms may be more favorable than private loads. Some loads, such as the Stafford and PLUS loans, are available to students from all economic backgrounds.
- Do not build up massive student loan debt. If your debt is getting too high, you may need to earn your degree slowly while you work. A reasonable guideline is not to borrow more than your expected post-graduate starting salary.
- Consider attending community college for the first two years of your education. In most cases, it is the school where you earn the degree that is most recognized. That can cut your college expenses almost in half.
Supplementing Your Experience
- To overcome the lack of diversity in college, join philanthropic organizations, political groups, book clubs, and other groups so you can experience people with a wide range of beliefs, diverse knowledge, and alternate viewpoints.
- Gain real world work experience through internships, part-time jobs, and volunteer work. This also helps you to expand your professional network.
- Read daily. Be aware of what is happening in the world, as well as changes in your chosen career field.