Do you remember your college years? All of your studying and wise financial decisions….or maybe not. Many of us probably remember some fun times and crazy decisions, but as for financial wisdom, it probably didn’t happen.
Some of my relatives are currently going through those wonderful years of college, and I recently found myself giving advice on what not to do, mainly because there are many things that I wish I would have done differently. Here’s a short list of my mess-ups as well as my advice on what I should have done (and therefore, what you should do).
1) I put little thought into what college I would attend.
Here’s a summary of my senior year of high school: I took my ACT, which I did OK on, but really didn’t prepare for. I visited one school, applied, and was not accepted. Then I applied for a local university since time was running out, was accepted, but forgot to attend orientation so I was put on the waiting list…..which I never got off from. So, I ended up going to the local community college for two years before I transferred to the local university that I was previously ousted from.
It all worked out, but I wouldn’t advise that plan to anyone! Once you’re a junior in high school, you should really start visiting colleges and study for that ACT. Score well, and you could earn some nice scholarships to a very prestigious school! Plus, by visiting multiple universities, you’ll actually choose the school that you enjoy, rather than the one nearby that gives you a letter of acceptance.
2) I didn’t need an internship, my GPA was high, so I figured a job would be easy to find
I graduated with a degree in finance and had no experience whatsoever in the workforce. My grades were good, but with no experience, no one would take me seriously. It took me 2 months to find work, and it could have easily taken me longer. My job was temporary, and had nothing to do with my degree. Still to this day, I do not work in finance at all, and as each day passes, it’s getting harder and harder for me to be considered for work in that field. College was just too long ago, and I still have no experience.
If you wish to succeed in your field of choice, ALWAYS work in that field as you’re taking your college courses. That experience will do wonders for you as you start looking for that first job. Trust me. Your grades are not enough.
3) I was completely debt free after 3 years of college. I figured I was in the clear….not true
Even though I got through 3 years without an ounce of debt, I still graduated with a loan totaling $12,000.
Life happens and I didn’t account for it. I spent money foolishly since I didn’t have debt – I bought some new golf clubs, TVs, an entertainment center, surround sound, and a nice car. Well, I decided to switch majors (I was an engineering major) and it tacked an extra year onto my college plan. And, let me tell you, college scholarships basically don’t exist for the 5th year of college (also known as “super senior” year). My expenses were more than I could handle. And totaling my car didn’t help the savings either….
You may be debt-free now, but always be ready for what may be coming in the future. If you have savings, keep them. You’ll most likely need to dip into them very soon!
What do you wish you would have done differently when you were in college? Did you make some dumb financial decisions?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.