I’ve gone through the college process before and I’ve seen people rush into decisions they weren’t ready to make. It’s true that college can be an incredibly positive experience, but there’s a time and a place for everything!
I made plenty of mistakes when applying for colleges, and if I could do it over again, I think I would!
If you’re applying for schools or simply in the planning stages, avoid these common mistakes of the college process:
Go to college because it’s the “cool thing” to do
Thinking back on my college selection process, I was unprepared for the financial impact of the decisions I was weighing; I truly had no idea how expensive college would be after I graduated. If you’re not mentally prepared to make a big investment in your education, it may be wise to take time off to:
- Learn a trade or new skill
- Figure out what you’re truly interested in
- Get an internship and save some money
By doing any of these, you can avoid putting money down on something you may not actually value or complete, and you give yourself time to settle down and collect your thoughts.
Set low expectations (or even worse – no expectations)
Many students want to go to a “good” college with blind hopes of landing a “good” job. Use your brainpower to create the ideal situation for your life when you leave college. By aiming low now – or not aiming at all – you’re setting yourself up for failure, disappointment, and frustration.
Rely on your parents to make the right decision for you
Having great support from parents can be an enormous benefit for a student trying to navigate the college process. Their life experience can help guide you through a confusing time, and they should be having the cost-benefit conversation regularly.
However, their insights should not dictate the final decision. After all, it will be your education and your career – not theirs.
Assume everyone has your best interest in mind
These days, everybody is in the business of doing business.
What I mean by that, is that while you’re looking at college as an asset to your future, your college’s view of you might not be so rosy. They want to make money, and they do so by having students enroll and take out loans.
Colleges will take your money and they will not think twice. As a paying customer, take full advantage of everything your college has to offer.
Forget that this is an enormous life decision
Going to college for your undergraduate degree only comes along once and you can’t afford to treat it lightly. The value of your degree will matter going forward, and how you foster the connections you make will take you even further. Don’t let anyone fool you: it matters where you go to school, but it’s 100% what you do with it that counts.
There are many tidbits of advice that I could give to consult someone on their college decision, but they ultimately boil down to these two recommendations:
Think realistically about what you want out of college
It’s a good idea to have a general sense of what you want to declare as a major before you step foot on campus as a freshman. It’s also a good idea to know what salaries those majors tend to yield for starting positions after graduation.
Here’s a glimpse of expected starting salaries for those holding Bachelor’s Degrees across the class of 2015:
Electrical Engineering = $57,030
Nursing = $43,481
Economics = $41,118
Advertising = $36,638
So, if you’ll be bearing the full burden of your debt, think twice before taking out $180k in loans for that Advertising degree.
Think selfishly about what you want your college experience to be
Let’s be honest here. Some people go to college for fun, some go to better themselves, and some want both. Instead of listening to what everybody else is doing, spend some time alone to ask yourself what you want to come away with after your college experience has ended.
All opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of Home at 30 and are in no way affiliated with any other organization or institution. The purpose of this blog is to give general education and information about investing, wealth, careers, and college; It is not intended to be professional advice.
Author: Josh Ramos
After earning an undergraduate degree in Economics and a Master of Arts in Management at Wake Forest University, Josh has paid off over $110k in student loan debt in 4 years. By founding Home at 30, Josh wants to help you make the most of college, build a successful career, and achieve financial independence.