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Doing college…the right way

October 20, 2011

College might not be for everyone.  But if you can make it work, you should go.  And you should graduate.  Here are just a few reasons why:

-Current unemployment rate for high school graduates with NO COLLEGE – 9.7%

-Current unemployment rate for college graduates – 4.2%

-Average salary for high school graduates with NO COLLEGE – $29,000

-Average salary for college graduates – $46,000

This doesn’t mean you have to go to college to be successful (see Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates), but it will greatly improve your chances to earn more during your lifetime.  It also doesn’t mean you go to college at any price.  Please don’t leverage your future with student loans just because of the statistics above.  Adults, I’ll address the options you have to save for your children or future children in tomorrow’s post. Today I want to address students and prospective students.

AVOID STUDENT LOANS

Yes, I took out student loans.  I wish I hadn’t.  Though I didn’t have much outstanding upon graduation, it was enough to suck up my first bonus check.  Better you take 6 years and work your way through college debt free, than 4 years saddled with debt.  When you take on consumer debt, you’re presuming on the future.  There are some recent college graduates living in a tent on Wall Street right now because they have $50,000 in student loans and no job.  Newsflash – that’s not Wall Street’s fault.  That’s stupid.

GO TO A SCHOOL YOU CAN AFFORD

If the only way you can attend that prestigious, liberal arts college in the northeast is to take out $80,000/year in student loans, THEN DON’T GO!  Go to a state school.  Go to community college.  Few people care which school you graduated from after you get your first job, they’re more concerned with you as a worker.

WORK HARD

College isn’t about what you learn (well, maybe a little), it’s about learning to learn.  Learn to be a lifetime learner.  Learn to be disciplined.  Learn how to study.  Learn how to prioritize.  Learn to be efficient with your time.  Learn how to work hard.  Oh yeah, and work hard at having fun – these can be some of the best years of your life.

DISCOVER YOUR GIFTS

There comes that dreaded day when you have to declare a major.  But don’t let it stress you out.  I changed my major twice.  I know a lot of successful people no longer working in the field they have their degree.  Use these years as an opportunity to explore a few options.  You’ll land on one eventually.

GO BULLFROGS…I mean, BULLDOGS  (for those of you that caught Modern Family.)

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