Graduated Success


Finance, Latest | by — January 14, 2013

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It’s January 2013, and for millions of high school seniors across the country THINGS JUST GOT REAL!!! It’s time to make some really tough decisions, one of which is determining whether to attend college. I understand the pressure that comes along with a decision of this magnitude, but if I’m answering the question, “Should I go to college?” on a multiple choice test, I’m selecting the last bubble that says “Not enough information.” There are several factors that should be considered when determining if college is the best move immediately after high school, but deciding how to finance an education is the most important factor.

According to, 66%of undergraduates financed their education with loans. The average student loan debt after graduation is approximately $23,000. And considering that the average starting salary for_XCL2986 college graduates in 2012 was $44,000, student loan debt could be a major strain on your finances as a young professional. Imagine working everyday to only earn 80% of your salary. If that sounds like a crappy deal, it is. So here are a few tips to help you avoid or reduce the need for student loans, so that when you graduate college you will be working for 100% of your money, minus taxes of course, but that’s a conversation for another day:
Be the best high school student you can be. Work for a 3.5 GPA or better. Participate in as many sports and extracurricular activities as possible because universities covet well rounded students and show their appreciation by offering them full scholarships. Student loans are not a problem for those who do not have them.

Prior to beginning the collegiate application process, know the field of study you want to pursue.
It is important to determine what your academic focus will be before choosing the school you want to attend. Many programs have funding to offer scholarships to students interested in certain disciplines. For example, the College of Business at a local state college may have scholarships available for students majoring in Supply Chain Management.

Consider an in-state school. According to The Department of Education, in-state tuition can save a student $10,000 a year. The cost effectiveness of college needs to be more important than the temptation to move away from home.

Understand that a 4-year college does not always translate to more money. Without scholarships or grants, it is possible that attending a four-year college may only translate to additional debt with no corresponding increase in take home pay.  Community college is a viable option for students who are undecided on a college major. Community colleges are less expensive than four-year colleges and they allow students to complete their core coursework.

Be cautious of “for-profit” colleges and vocational schools. According to the Department of Education, the average cost for a degree of less than two years at a for-profit school is $11,480 compared to $2,451 at a public school. The integrity of these schools is constantly in question as there have been concerns regarding the disclosure of costs and accreditation concerns.

Preparing for life after high school can be a stressful process. It is important to fight through the pressure and make non-emotional, well researched decisions. The ultimate goal of a college education is to help you land the job of your dreams or, at a minimum, just land a job. Don’t limit your financial potential by becoming dependent on debt whether it be for your education or otherwise. Being debt free is liberating and it is comforting to know that you can work, earn and keep 100% of your money, kind of…

-Courtney Hale

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