First of all, deep breath, the first few weeks of college can be challenging, but you’re going to be fine! If this is all new to you, you’re bound to make some mistakes and that’s okay, it’s how we learn. The goal today is just to avoid a few major ones and share some solutions if you find yourself making or about to make any of them.
Spending Your Financial Aid on Non-School Related Stuff
The biggest mistake we see freshmen make is spending their financial aid on everything and anything not school-related. It’s hard to realize that this money is not free but even harder to realize that there is interest attached to it. When you go to pay this sum back after school, it will have an interest rate tacked on to the bill which is normally pretty high depending on what type of loan you take out. Sometimes the interest rate will snowball if you don’t start paying your loan back immediately after graduation. Borrowing $20,000 may cost you $35,000 in the end! And don’t even get me started on the job market right now!
Solution: Don’t spend any school allocated funds on non-school-related things. Take a good look at your loans and make sure you are not digging yourself into an interest rate grave. Sometimes you can re-negotiate your rates after graduation based on your newly fixed income. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, it may save you thousands of dollars.
Not Setting Boundaries with Roommates or Parents
We don’t care if you’ve been best friends with Jessica for 8 years. Living together can make you hate her in less than a month. Before it’s too late, sit down with your roommates and talk about things you are not ok with. Be HONEST! If you expect dishes cleaned every day, then SAY IT! If you don’t want random people over crashing in your common area, then SAY IT. Sometimes we forget that everyone has different standards and lifestyles and that what you think is common sense may not be “sensical” to your roommate. With that said, refrain from leaving passive-aggressive post-it notes all over everything. Face to face communication is far less abrasive and works better.
Living with your parents this semester? I know it’s probably a bummer, but it’s temporary. Try your best not to lose your cool on mom when you’re stressed and she’s knocking on your door every ten minutes to hand you things like plates of sliced bananas or every sock, sneaker and clothing item you left in the living room. You may not be able to anticipate every moment you’ll be stressed, but you do know when you’re about to start an online class or study for a test – just let them know you’ll be in school or cramming mode and that you’ll need your space for a bit.
Solution: Again, communicate regularly face to face. Never let your emotions build into an outburst. You may say things that are not forgivable due to your anger.
Not Asking for Help
Having issues with the assignments? Ask for help. Having trouble balancing your finances? Ask for help. It’s only the beginning of the semester which means you have plenty of time to right some wrongs from your schooling past. Like not asking for help. Sometimes we all feel like we can do everything on our own and I am here to tell you that you can’t. Every single college has multiple resources for just about anything and everything there is and they all offer free help.
Solution? ASK FOR HELP!