Friday, October 23, 2009

10 Things College Has Taught Grads About Life

5. Debt

Not everything we learn in college is fun.. School is expensive and working part-time doesn’t exactly cover all the bills. Nationally, about 66% of students who graduate with a Bachelor’s degree do so with $23,000 dollars in student loans. In the credit card department, the average senior carries a balance of more than $4,100 dollars. Unfortunately, 20% of students matriculate with more than $7,000 dollars charged against their little plastic pals.

So what’s the good news? Debt is a fact of life for nearly everybody at one point or another. Don’t panic, you aren’t the first person working as a barista with a $30,000 debt over your head. Student loans were an investment in your future and as such should be looked at over the long term. Pay as much against them as you are comfortable with each month without overextending yourself. Credit cards, on the other hand, are a dangerous convenience and unlike federal student loans don’t play nice with regulated lower interest rates. Pay the cards off aggressively and don’t spend money you don’t have in your bank account (except in emergencies). While not enjoyable, going into debt in college gives you

6. Autonomy

Do you want to eat pizza and Cheetos every night for dinner? Feel like sleeping till noon and ignoring that alarm? Going to a concert instead of finishing some homework? Guess what— nobody is going to stop you. College, like life, affords you incredible amounts of autonomy to make your own decisions outside of the hegemony that your parents exuded. This is a good thing right? Yes, autonomy is a perk of adulthood. But there’s a flipside: the consequence of total freedom is total responsibility. If you forget to finish an assignment you’ll fail, if you fail to finish a project at work you’ll be fired. Ultimately, just remember what Uncle Ben told Peter Parker (Spiderman) before he expired: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Can you drink a gallon of Mountain Dew at 5 a.m.? Probably. Is that the best use of your free agency? Probably not…

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