Congratulations! You have completed high school, now you are off to college, full of hope and promise, ready to face the world.
Or are you?
If I had just asked myself that simple question, am I ready for college?, I could have saved myself time, money, and hardship.
Society forces the concept that students must go to college immediately after high school, while the knowledge obtained in the past four years is still fresh on their young minds. What society fails to realize is that many young people are not ready for the trials of higher education at eighteen.
High school prepares you to go to college, which is only half of the higher education experience. The other half, making it as an adult, involves life skills high school fails to cover. You may have the education and intellectual ability, but without the maturity, you will crumble in the first semester. The main components a young adult must master to make it on his own are financial responsibility, self motivation, and job skills.
As a teenager, I was blissfully unaware of the ugly side of money: bills. I never paid a bill in my life until I moved out, and unfortunately, neither does the majority of today’s youth. Even if your tuition has been covered by scholarships, there is still the cost of books, living expenses, etc. Without the knowledge of budgeting, these bills can pile up and suffocate you. The best advice I can give is to make a small investment in getting a financial advisor to teach you how to handle money. It will pay off in the long run, and save you from a whirlwind of stress.
High school teachers drill due dates, test dates, study guides, and homework into student brains, something the students often take for granted. They grow to expect it; they have no incentive to study on their own. This poses a problem for today’s college Freshman. Teachers will no longer baby the students, reminding them of every test, project and assignment. And, worse of all, no more study guides. You must study on your own will, sacrificing the free time we all crave.
You go through college with the expectancy of getting a job, but you must get a job to make it through college. Part time jobs may be hard to find, but most colleges offer on-campus positions to help students. These jobs are much better than off campus jobs, simply because the employers will be more understanding of your class and study needs when you need time off. The best way to make it is to get a job or paid internship in your field of study. For example, a Journalism major could apply for the college newspaper staff. The more experience in your line of work you gain through college, the easier it will be to get jobs in the real world.
College is about more than just school. If you learn to master academics with other imperative life skills, you will master all four years of schooling and beyond.
It doesn’t matter which college you go to, you’ll usually always be left penniless by the prices of books offered at your campus bookstore. What’s more, some professors insist on using the latest editions, which most of the time are a waste of the little money you already have.
When a class requires expensive books with many editions, it may be better to contact the professor before the first day of class and ask if it would be all right if an earlier edition could be used instead, this will save you a lot of money over your college career.
One motto to live by when searching for books, is “never settle.” If you settle with the first price you see, especially those from the campus bookstore, chances are you’ll be paying too much. Whenever the list of books for the next semester came up, I’d find its ISBN (the multi-digit number above the barcode) and search different sites for the best deal. The best deal you’ll probably find are from rental sites — sites that lend you the book for the semester or longer, and will be only a fraction of the cost. Then again, it may be better to buy a book that you may use again within your major, just be sure to make the best choice either way.
Though they do not rent books, I have known Amazon to have books for sale cheaper than rentals, but as most used book sales are done by everyday people and not by Amazon itself, I have heard stories of people having problems, like getting the wrong book. It can be a gamble, but usually it pays off nicely. Then there’s Chegg. Probably my favorite and go-to book-rental site. According to the ticker on my Chegg account, I’ve saved a couple hundred dollars and that’s always a plus. There are many other book-rental sites, like AbeBooks and BookRenter that I’ve heard great things about, but have never had the pleasure of using. In the end, it all comes down to how well you search for the best deals, and who knows, maybe you’ll find prices better than any of these; just don’t settle.