7 Tips for Your College Bound Student
t is the time of year when high school seniors are attending prom, finishing classes, preparing for graduation, hosting/attending graduation parties, etc. It is a great time for parents and students alike to celebrate clearing this hurdle and to enjoy some quality time before whatever comes next. If what’s next includes college, here are some pointers to discuss with your student before the summer is over and they head out on their next adventure.
- Learn to use a budget - Freshman year will go fast -and so will your savings and all that graduation money you’re receiving right now, unless you learn to manage those funds. Keep the majority of your savings separate from the spending money in your checking account. Determine how much you need to live on each month and transfer only that amount into your spending account. Conversely, if you will be working while taking classes, only keep what you need for spending in the checking account and transfer the rest to savings.
- Find A Bank That Works with Your College Situation - Going off to college presents a great opportunity to evaluate your banking options and determine what’s best for your new circumstance. The account and financial institution that made sense for your high school self might no longer provide you the greatest value – especially if you’re moving far away. For example, some banks offer accounts with reimbursement for out-of-network ATM fees and a low minimum daily balance requirement, which could especially benefit college students. Other banking features that could be particularly convenient for students include mobile remote deposit capture, online bill pay, and person to person payments.
- Credit Is Important, So Use It Responsibly - Be smart with you first credit card. During your first few weeks on campus, you will likely be bombarded with credit card booths and seemingly friendly salespeople. Don't be tempted to open a credit card just because they give you a free t-shirt, stuffed animal, or large pizza. Building credit is important, and so is opening your first credit card. Ask them to explain the fine print to you and look for a card with no annual fee, good rewards, and of course-a reasonable interest rate. Make your payments on time
- Get A Job, But A Flexible One - Getting a job in college is important because you can earn “spending money” and even save some to put toward books, supplies, and your student loans. But your job can have an even bigger impact if it’s one that allows you to do your homework. There are many on-campus jobs out there that allow you to sit down and have limited interactions/responsibilities. Some of these include checking student IDs at a gym or cafeteria, managing a resource center (at the library, for example), and jobs that allow you to be “on call,” such as a Resident Assistant. These types of work arrangements allow you to make money while also being productive. The end result is a much more efficient use of your time, and it keeps your job from becoming a burden to your schoolwork, which could potentially force you to quit the job and then not have the money you need.
- Take The Maximum Classes Possible To Minimize Time In College - Get serious about classes ASAP. It's hard work, but taking a full course load each semester will get you to graduation faster. And the fewer semesters you take to graduate, the less expensive your college education will be. That's because your tuition might depend on the total number classes you take, but additional costs like room and board and all those fees you have to pay are charged by semester. You may also want to consider taking summer classes at a local college while your home on break. Many can be done at night or online, so you can still work your summer job. It is a great way to get those non-core electives out of the way at a potentially significant savings, making the workload lighter during the regular semester, or allowing you to take additional classes if you are considering a double major. Just be sure to talk to your academic advisor and get the summer classes approved in advance so you will receive transfer credits.
- Be Smart About Recurring Expenses Like Books - The campus's bookstore is the most expensive place to purchase books. Instead try borrowing your books for free from the library, or buying books using Amazon.com, Ebay.com, Half.com, and selling them back at the end of the semester. This will leave you with a lot more money in your pocket now and later. You can also look into renting your text books from websites like chegg.com. It usually costs a fraction of buying new texts from the bookstore, they make it convenient by sending a return label and re-using the same shipping box to send them back at the end of the semester, and many of these sights also have study help available online.
- Remember Why You're In College – Planning and Networking For Your Future Career - I won’t say grades aren’t important, but they aren’t the only thing that matter. Taking the right classes for a particular career is also important. But one thing that many students don’t think about is making connections during their time in college. Get a summer internship, join an organization, do volunteer work, find a way to help with alumni events on campus. These friendships and connections will open doors throughout your future career in ways that you can’t imagine currently.