On every corner of the internet, in every guidance office, and at every family get-together, you’ll hear endless streams of college advice regarding what school to attend, which degree to pursue, and how to graduate debt-free.
While there is nothing wrong with college advice for future students, it’s important to remember that pursuing higher education is a complex decision. Simple advice sound bites can’t take into account all of the factors impacting such a big decision.
There is no one right way to get your college education, so it’s okay if you decide to ignore advice from both well-meaning family members and the articles they keep forwarding to you.
Here are four of the most common pieces of college advice that you can comfortably ignore as you pursue your degree:
1. Major in Something Lucrative
Every year brings new college advice articles about post-graduate salaries for specific degrees. The higher the salary, the better return on investment from your education.
While it makes sense to consider the expense of a college degree carefully, it could be a recipe for disaster if you choose your college major based solely on post-graduation salary. What if you pick a major that leads to an unsatisfying career path? Life’s too short to work in a field you don’t like.
Even if you do major in a field that pays well, recessions, changes in regulations, or new technology could weaken your job prospects.
Imagine if everyone followed a life plan based on money: writers, teachers, social workers, philosophers, actors, and musicians would all disappear. You should consider job prospects when picking a major, but it shouldn’t overwhelm your decision-making process. Remember, the skills you learn in college—writing, research, and critical thinking—will help you in your post-college career.
Remember, the skills you learn in college—writing, research, and critical thinking—will help you in your post-college career.
2. Attend Community College for Two Years, Then Transfer to Your Preferred School
One common piece of advice is for students to start their education at a local community college. They can take all of their prerequisite courses for a fraction of the cost, and then transfer to a university. You’ll save money on required introductory courses, and potentially even live at home.
This advice doesn’t take into account the challenge you may face when you transition from community college to university. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, students who start at a community college are less likely to graduate within six years than those who start at a four-year institution.
Students starting at a community college take longer to graduate than those who go straight to a four-year university. Students who began their studies at a community college took 71 months to complete a bachelor’s degree, while those at public universities took 55 months, and students at private four-year colleges took 50 months.
That’s not to say community colleges don’t offer an excellent education, but students who are hoping to save money should recognize that starting at a community college is not always going to be the cheapest option.
3. Take a Job While You Study to Help Pay for School
Many college students are advised to work through college to help defray education costs. This allegedly gives you the incentive to do well in school so you don’t waste the hard-earned money you’ve spent on tuition, but it will also help you learn valuable time management and workplace skills.
The problem is the jobs flexible enough to accommodate a college student’s schedule aren’t usually lucrative without working long hours. Studies have shown working more than ten to fifteen hours can have a detrimental effect on your grades. According to the
According to the American Association of University Professors, retention rates are higher for students who work 10 to 15 hours a week than for students who either do not have a job or work over 15 hours a week. Research also found students were more academically successful if they worked on campus.
If you can find a way to pay for college that will allow you to focus on studying rather than trying to juggle a job and being a full-time student, then you will be more likely to graduate on time.
4. Avoid Taking on Student Debt
Stories of college students graduating with six-figure student loans and no job prospects are enough to discourage anyone from taking on student loan debt. Amercian students now owe nearly $1.3 trillion, and student debt is currently the second biggest source of personal debt after mortgages; it’s understandable some college advice suggests students should avoid student loans.
However, deciding all student debt is bad could be detrimental to your education. Paying for college without a student loan could mean delaying or prolonging your education; taking on a student loan means you’re more likely to finish college.
In addition, federal student loans come with repayment benefits like forbearance, adjusted repayment plans, and loan forgiveness. These sorts of benefits can make student loan payments much more manageable.
Not All College Advice Is Created Equal
Advice for college students can be helpful, but much of it can be misguided or not applicable to your situation. Take everything with a grain of salt and do what’s best for you and your situation.
Still not sure what to do? Take a look at this student debt advice from some of your favorite celebrities.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.99% – 5.64%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.09%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
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|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|1.99% – 5.41%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 7/31/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of September 10, 2020.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.16% effective August 10, 2020.