Archive for the 'Financial Advice' Category
A Rant – 30 Ugly Truths
Sometimes you just have to tell the truth. With this in mind, and as a college student paying his way through to get a degree, I’ve come up with several college “truths.” My assertion is that college has become necessary for success in almost all of the work force when it should only be needed for some professions. With the lack of economic prosperity, requiring students to pay mind-boggling amounts of money, to do jobs they already have the knowledge and skills to complete out of high school, does nothing but hurt this country’s economy. So without further adieu, here are 30 truths about college in America.
College is not necessary to be sufficient in a majority of professions (1). People should not have to go to college in order to earn a fair (truly middle-class) wage in this country. If you think about the professions that exist today, so many could be done even if the employee didn’t have a college degree. Did Steve Jobs or Bill Gates need degrees? My own father trains people how to use equipment in a factory, makes a pretty decent wage too, yet never received a college education. I had a wonderful internship this summer doing something that I taught myself how to do (with fancy computers), and I can’t honestly think of much I actually used in the real-world, outside of a few business classes I’d taken. Most my learning this summer took place in the practice, not in a classroom (2). Years ago, college was for doctor’s and lawyers (3), not any person that wanted to get a decent paying job (yes we’ve become a service-based instead of an industrial society, but bear with me here).
Many college classes are just plain boring (4). When I’m scheduling, there’s always bound to be one awful general education class that I have to take. My performance in these types of classes will have no affect on any learning, and will only server to further my progression towards a degree. If I’m working for a corporation, when will I ever have to tell them about how to find f(x)? Yet, I’m forced to take classes I have no interest in, and will not help me at all with my profession, and pay hard earned cash for them. It just doesn’t seem fair when you think of all the financial issues college students must contend with.
Most college students are poor (5). In terms of socio-economic brackets, all college students are probably poor, but even those who have parents with the income to be able to supply their students with money to buy beer still have issues when it comes to money. College can really be a ripoff at times (6). The entire textbook system in college is like a pyramid scheme that has been allowed to flourish (7). If I buy a textbook for $150, I get to use it for a quarter (or semester), and then sell it back for about $15. Hey, that’s 10%, what an awesome deal! Good thing the inflation rate is only around 3%, right? With those outrageous prices, students can also get hit with a class where the professor wrote the book and makes them buy it, but it’s never used in class. This happened to me once, except that the bookstore wouldn’t even buy it back because it was simply a packet with 180 hole-punched pages. A nice “F-U” from the bookstore in conjunction with the Economics department. Why do you think college students are forced to buy cardboard-tasting, bowel-destroying piss-water (8)? Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the money to buy Sam Adams Boston Lager, the best American beer (9). In any case, students get screwed royally even without factoring tuition in (10).
One viewing of college tuition costs proves that it is also too high. Does a college really need to charge more than $40,000 a year? Will a degree from a private university be that much better than mine or anyone else who doesn’t go to a private school to justify it’s worth quadruple the price? Even state-funded schools have been having issues with increasing tuition rates (11). Maybe it’s because the economy is partying like it’s 1929 (12). It’s quite sad how much money some people pay just to go to one specific private school, when they, in all likelihood, will end up getting a job making just as much as the next poor state-school dolt once they graduate. The only difference between most colleges and some of the more “prestigious” universities is how US World and News Report ranks them (13). Which, by the way, is about as flawed as the BCS (14), which is quite fitting, except that Ivy Leagues would win national championships. At least colleges are starting to realize that rankings are biased (15), although the tuition issue is still significant. How can colleges justify having thousands of potentially brilliant students eliminated from any chance of attendance simply because of finances? There was a time I considered attending Kenyon College, and applying to Northwestern University. However, one look at those price tags made my decision for me. Students shouldn’t be limited by finances when it comes to choosing a college.
The fact remains, there are some people who are either too poor to go to college, or not poor enough (16). Affording college is a major pain in the behind for the middle class (not so much for John McCain’s middle class, but who’s counting), yet the government, and the universities themselves assume most families can afford to pay much more than would ever be feasible. Case and point, on no planet would my parents ever be able to afford to give me $40,000 a year in tuition, but the government cites that as the “expected family contribution” for my yearly tuition. After taxes, paying for other sibling’s schools, mortgages, insurance, food, etc, $40,000 would cause my parents to be destitute. However, they make just enough that I’m not eligible for any financial aid scholarships, so I’m stuck thinking of every easy, unique scholarship idea I can.
So as it is, students are stuck being forced to borrow riddikulus amounts of money (17). Then students get credit card debt because of either the cost of textbooks, their own financial irresponsibility, or just for trying to pay for living expenses (18). However, the credit card companies love to get students in debt, because then aforementioned parents have to chip in (19). After all this for four, five, or more years, students graduate and get to start paying off their loans almost immediately, with this lovely thing called interest (20). However, good luck being able to do that if you got an English degree. You’ll be worrying about how many pieces of flair you have on before work, and wondering what you spent $30K a year for when you’ve got to be at Ruby Tuesday’s in an hour. In that situation, you essentially have to go to grad school or risk being the most educated person in the unemployment line (or the sports bar) (21).
Yet, all is not doom and gloom when it comes to college (22). We have our system of educating people, and it’s clearly not going to change anytime soon. The solution is simply this: we should make college free for everyone (23). Take after countries like Belgium, that only require students to pay for their books. Yes, we’ll have higher taxes, but college won’t be something reserved for the wealthy elite, and those with enough gumption to borrow thousands and thousands of dollars on an education. If we want our society to be full of educated professionals (24), wouldn’t it be better to make sure they aren’t broke professionals (25)? In truth, while college isn’t necessary for entry into the professional world (aside from doctors, lawyers, etc), it is a great time to learn more and grow as a functioning member of society (26).
As it stands right now; banks, beer, video games, web sites that promote college hacks, MTVU, the BCS, tuition, STDs, and all the other crazy things one could associate with college will continue to exist. They are all wonderful in their own ways and make college interesting (27), and a real learning experience (28). However, we should take the time to rethink how we’re doing things, and what negative effects this could have on the future of the economy. Students today have a unique place in the world, it’s up to everyone to make sure we don’t mess it up. Because if things remain the way they do, then students will continue to be caught with debt they cannot relieve, and they’ll keep borrowing and borrowing while trying to afford a college that is too expensive to begin with. Considering massive issues like a $700 billion bailout, the condition of Social Security, the housing market, and so many other financial markets, it seems like we’re just creating a bigger problem. We shouldn’t be sending the people who are supposed to be the future of this nation into the world already hampered by debt (29). Forgive the ranting, but I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore (30).
October 02 2008 | College Advice and Financial Advice and Student Jobs | No Comments »
Every year, perspective students are faced with the daunting task of selecting the place in which they will spend the next 2-4 years (sometimes more) of their lives. One’s college choice is also important because of the financial implications from an investment standpoint. Unfortunately, sometimes students find that they may have not made the right decision, and end up looking to transfer after one or so years. With that in mind, Derek Kraus decided to found myUsearch. Essentially, myUsearch allows students to search through colleges and find those schools that most accurately match what they are looking for in terms of higher education. Mr. Kraus was kind enough to grant College and Finance an exclusive interview to help shed some light on the service:
1. What would you say your main service is for those of us that are unfamiliar with myUsearch?
myUsearch is a free service for anyone looking to enroll in college. Our free service provides students with unbiased college matching results. We do not advertise or promote any specific colleges. We also fund and award scholarships to students that use our college matching service.
For colleges, myUsearch provides the opportunity to introduce themselves to new students, plus colleges have the ability to connect with those students actually interested in their programs. We provide colleges with a very targeted approach to marketing, and eliminate spam for students.
2. How did you design the survey on your site?
Our “Smart” Questionnaire is designed to eliminate irrelevant questions, and reduce the time to find the right colleges.
3. How is your site different from existing college search sites?
First, we do not promote nor restrict students’ college results based on whether a college is willing to pay us.
Secondly, we have a large list of over 3,400 colleges from across the country that students can match with. Again, we do not restrict colleges based on whether they’re paying us. We list them regardless.
Lastly, we make sure to ask students all the necessary questions for providing a proper college match, and we eliminate those questions that are not relevant.
4. What’s the philosophy behind creating the site/business?
Our philosophy is two-fold. First, we wanted to provide students with an honest and accurate method for determining which college is best for them. We were tired of seeing so many college search sites that either did not provide a valid service, or took advantage of students. Secondly, we are avid supporters of education, and we have always wanted to provide scholarships for students that have financial difficulties with college. By starting an education based business, it presented the opportunity to direct business funds directly into our very own scholarship program.
5. What’s your background prior to myUsearch?
Initially, I had a difficult time in college. My grades were awful and my family did not have enough money to pay for my college education. I was fortunate, however, because I was a college athlete and I had a mother that made me realize just how important my grades were. Eventually I improved my grades, graduated from college and passed the Certified Public Accounting exam, which I thought would never happen.
Recently I worked at an online college where I experienced firsthand the difficulties and inefficiencies colleges were experiencing with my competitors.
6. Where do you get all of the ideas/content/writers for your blog?
We are actively involved in multiple higher education forums, blogs, etc. and we also stay current with student and college topics through various newspaper publications.
We’ve gathered writers from posting job opportunities at college campuses, as well as recruiting others that already maintain blogs about higher education or the college experience.
7. How does the myUsearch College Matching making process work?
We pose the most relevant questions for students to answer and then objectively match them with the right colleges within our large database of college profiles.
8. Should students using myUsearch still visit their college before deciding?
You bet they should. myUsearch is focused on narrowing that group of colleges to visit to the best opportunities and to disclose those lesser known colleges that actually should be considered.
9. Colleges are constantly changing, new programs, acceptance rates, rankings, and more, how often is myUsearch updated?
This is a problem with several other college search sites. Our goal is to have any and all changes updated on the site the instant these changes occur. We have developed an operational process that allows for instant updating and a more accurate database.
10. Would myUsearch be useful for students unhappy with their current college situation and looking to transfer?
Yes. Ultimately, myUsearch is useful to any person searching for a college, regardless of whether they’ve had prior college experience or not.
11. Where does myUsearch draw its information from? Directly from the Universities?
Without going into great detail, yes we derive our information directly from colleges and universities. However, we also derive our data from other public resources if the college isn’t currently working with us. This allows us to provide the best information to students and maintain our objectivity.
12. How important would you consider attending the “perfect” college or university to fit one’s needs is to success?
We believe that it is very important to a student’s long-term success at that school. The problem today with peoples perception of the “perfect” college is that it is usually based on someone’s ranking system. The problem is that just because a college is highly ranked does not mean that it will be a good fit, nor does it mean that those that are not ranked are not very good, if not great colleges.
13. About how large is the catalog of colleges listed in your database?
Currently we’re over 3,400 colleges and growing.
14. What types of scholarship opportunities can students find on your site?
Currently we’re offering two $1,000 scholarships. Both are financial need based. One is for a student looking to enroll in a video game design program and the other is more general and only requires an essay recommending ways in which colleges could improve the admissions process.
15. Do you have any future expansion plans for the range of myUsearch’s services?
Most definitely. There are multiple improvements and additional services we’re researching. Two most likely additions include expanding our scholarships to include different offering types and increasing the dollar amounts of each scholarship granted, and including campus tour videos with each college profile.
16. Finances are a huge concern for many college students, does or will myUsearch offer something more regarding finances, in addition to scholarship opportunities and information?
In order to provide the best college financial service we would need to develop an arrangement with the Federal Department of Education and their online forms. Currently there are several other sites that provide more in-depth college finance information, and the DOE alone provides direct assistance with Federal Aid. Therefore, I do not anticipate providing more in-depth financial information outside of expanding our scholarships and our information and links to these other great sites.
17. What do you hope that students will get out of using myUsearch?
An honest and accurate approach to finding the right college. We want students to have a memorable and successful college experience. Ultimately, we want to assist in making sure that students actually graduate from college. We believe that selecting the right college is step 1 to improving college graduation rates.
18. Do you think that students who use myUsearch will significantly lower their chances of disliking their university, and deciding to transfer as a result?
Of course. This is what we strive towards. We continue to evaluate ways in which we can improve the matching process, so as to increase the likelihood of a happy and successful college experience.
June 13 2008 | College Advice and Financial Advice and Pre-College Decisions | No Comments »
I was reminiscing about freshman year with my friend the other day, which got me thinking, “what the heck did I learn my freshman year?” I suppose I learned a lot of things, I forgot some others things (math being one of them, as I took my last math class ever and decided I was done), and I grew as a person. However, I wish someone had been there in the beginning to impart some real freshman year wisdom on me before I had to learn things the hard way, and watch my friends make some huge mistakes. Perhaps had I had this advice, I wouldn’t have committed any party fouls, or dropped any classes. So, without further introduction, here are some things I learned my freshman year, that I’ve turned into some nice college tips.
1. Calculus and/or O-Chem will be two of the worst classes you’ll ever take, so prepare.
2. All lectures are optional unless otherwise stated, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attend any.
3. Make friends with someone in every class, or take class with a buddy, it makes things much easier.
4. If you miss more lectures than you attend, you may not do as well as expected.
5. Unless the class is a 101 course with really attractive people, and athletes in it.
6. The higher the amount of attractive people in the course, the easier it will be (seriously, it’s true).
7. Take advantage of professors’ office hours.
8. Take advantage of any note cards allowed during tests (3 point font works wonders).
9. Prepare to get little sleep the week of finals, because you’ll be studying all the time (especially if you skipped too many classes).
10. Avoid early morning classes like the plague.
11. Don’t become an Engineering major unless you plan on studying on Fridays.
12. If you don’t know the name of your professor, and can’t remember what the class topic is about, you may want to go to a few more classes.
13. If you haven’t selected a major, don’t panic, unless you’ve been in college for 4 years and still are taking random basket-weaving classes.
14. Don’t start a huge research project the night before.
15. Start it at least 2 nights before.
16. If you decide to rush a Sorority or Fraternity, schedule the easiest classes possible during that semester/quarter.
17. If you have a high school sweetheart going to a different school, do yourself a favor and break up.
18. If you have a high school sweetheart at a different school, who you really like, stay together. However, be prepared for ridiculous amounts of stress, because it’s very difficult to stay together, and one person usually will stop trying to work on the relationship.
19. Be careful when entering a serious college relationship, because those grades might end up suffering as you spend every waking moment with your loved one.
20. Don’t hook up with anyone on your floor (unless it’s the last month of school).
21. If you are a guy, don’t allow a girl inside your dorm room unless it is truly clean. If it’s like an average male dorm room, she may not ever want to see you again.
22. Yes, it’s awkward if you hook-up with someone and can’t even remember his or her name the next day.
23. Especially if you still have their clothes in your room.
24. Dread the walk of shame, and always use protection, unless you love getting STDs.
Alcohol and Partying
25. Liquor before beer, never fear.
26. Beer before liquor, never sicker.
27. When having a dorm party, don’t open the doors while beer is in plain sight, no matter how drunk you may be (unless your college is totally cool with that).
28. Make friends with your RA the first day, it might help you get out of trouble in the future.
29. Make friends with local campus police, it might save you from spending a night in jail.
30. Don’t share drinks with anyone who hooks up with loads of people, or who you don’t know (unless you love Mono).
31. Natty, Beast, and Keystone are all terrible, yet effective and cheap.
32. Girls, you can’t drink as much as guys (generally), so don’t try, it will always end up worse for you.
33. Halloween is one of the greatest parties of the year.
34. Halloween also allows girls to dress provocatively without shame, so guys should enjoy it.
35. There are many alternatives to partying every weekend that include; seeing a movie, reading a book, going to a hookah bar, going mini-golfing, riding a bike, working out, talking with friends, studying, writing a term paper, playing video games, etc. Remember, too much of a good thing is always bad.
36. Never party during finals week, unless you love failing.
37. If your entire week (Monday through Sunday) consists of partying, you may need to attempt to remember why you’re at college in the first place (Hint: It’s not “to party”).
Health and Cleanliness
38. Try to keep it to one or two energy drinks/Starbucks per day (more than that and you might start twitching randomly).
39. Designate cleaning responsibilities for all roommates (especially the smelly one).
40. If the trash starts to become a living organism, you should probably take it out.
41. Take vitamins daily, and try not to panic when everyone around you gets sick.
42. When home, eat as much as you can, sleep as much as you can, and do laundry.
43. Better yet, make your mom do your laundry.
44. Set at least 3 alarms in the morning, because you’ll be perpetually exhausted. Grab extra sleep whenever possible.
Making and Saving Money
45. Keep a textbook fund handy, because they’ll cost a lot not matter what you do.
46. Pizza and beer are not very nutritious, but are cost effective.
47. Share textbooks or buy from eBay, or some other used textbook store to avoid getting ripped off.
48. Force yourself to eat cafeteria food whenever possible (if you paid for it).
49. Work like crazy over breaks and limit spending, you’ll need the money for next semester/quarter.
50. Consider an on-campus job, so you can make some cash while you’re in school.
51. Sign up for (and activate) no more than one credit card, unless you’re really keen on getting into debt as early in life as possible.
52. Avoid having to purchase separate shampoo and soap by using shampoo as a body wash.
53. Getting so drunk you don’t even remember the football game is lame (unless your team stinks or loses to a Division I-AA school).
54. About 98% of students involved with Student Government are doing so to boost their resumes.
55. If you are waking up before 2PM on non-game day Saturdays, then you’re too motivated and should stop making everyone else around you feel lazy.
56. If you don’t have the famous John Belushi “college” poster, a poster of some band, or some poster referencing a movie or alcohol, you’re not technically in college, and should be ashamed of yourself.
57. Your college is the best college in the world, despite what anyone else says, or what rankings (either academically or athletically) may be.
58. Your university president will most likely be an idiot who is out of touch with students.
59. Your hometown is better than everyone else’s hometown.
60. MTVU is pretty good (because it actually plays music videos).
61. VH1 and MTV are still terrible.
62. If you go to a huge university, no one cares about Homecoming Court.
63. If your school is ranked high in a certain area, you should brag about it to all your friends in lower ranked schools.
64. College isn’t high school, so almost all dances are lame.
65. No one in college uses MySpace anymore, get a Facebook account.
66. It is very creepy to add someone as a friend on Facebook if you’ve never talked to them and just happen to have lecture together.
67. You don’t really need a car on campus; it just makes some things more convenient.
68. The third time your RA yells at you about the noise level, you can assume he/she is serious.
69. If you have a druggy roommate, inform them that drug deals cannot take place in your room (unless you’re a fan of cops busting in).
70. Don’t forget to bring anything with you to school, because it’s a pain to forget things.
71. Accept all care packages with the greatest appreciation possible (especially if they include food or money).
72. Establish as many rules as possible with your roommate(s) in the beginning of the year, because it will help later.
73. You don’t need to be best friends with your roommate.
74. You don’t have to like him/her either, but you should at least try to be cordial, because he/she knows where you sleep.
75. It’s never too early to start thinking about housing for the next year.
To Do List
76. Memorize your social security number (or at least the last four digits, because you’ll need to put it on many exams).
77. Keep your student ID on you at all times.
79. Keep an iPod (or other MP3 player) with you at all times, for it makes the walk to classes less boring.
80. Check Facebook at least four times a day; double it on weekends.
81. Participate in school traditions!
82. Read the school newspaper occasionally, to at least be semi-informed about your campus.
83. Take advantage of free school concerts.
84. Join a club, team, group, or cause so you at least have something to do, and can meet new people.
85. If you go back to visit teachers, insist that you’re getting the best grades ever and you’re studying hard.
86. Do the same when you go home for the holidays, and whenever your parents call.
Gaming (mostly for guys)
87. Super Smash Brothers/Guitar Hero is a good way to socialize within the dorms by getting new people to walk in randomly.
88. Halo 2 or 3 and/or Call of Duty will be played at least once a week.
89. Playing too many video games (especially RPGs, see below) can kill your GPA and your class attendance record.
90. Playing World of Warcraft can also destroy your GPA and make you not meet or socialize with anyone else (outside of your guild).
91. No one in college can actually afford a PS3.
92. Girls will be exactly 20 times as likely to play Wii with you over any other system.
93. Playing NCAA video games is a good way to exact revenge on a team that beat your school in real life.
94. Get football tickets (even if your team is terrible, or you hate football), because you can at least sell them.
95. If you can’t get football tickets, watch every game (if your school is a football school, so you at least have something to talk about).
96. Never argue with an SEC fan (even if you’re right), because they won’t ever listen to reason.
97. Get basketball tickets (even if you hate basketball, and/or your team is terrible), because you can at least sell them.
98. If the head football coach offers a class at your university, take it.
99. ESPN never covers your universities athletic team enough, and your team never gets respect (note: SEC fans can’t complain here, most ESPN employees love the SEC).
100. The BCS will never get it right, and college football needs a playoff system (and no, the “regular season” is not a playoff, just ask LSU and Ohio State).
101. If your school wins a National Championship (in any sport), bragging rights last for 4 years (although, would you rather brag about a water polo championship or a football championship?).
Hopefully you learned a little something, and maybe won’t make some of the mistakes I made my freshman year. If your year turns out to not be as great as you expected, don’t fret. Remember, there’s always next year!
December 02 2007 | College Advice and College Fun and Financial Advice | 6 Comments »
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