Social Encore: Tips on surviving college
BY Jermel-Lynn Quillopo / Special to the Star-Advertiser
I have cousins and family friends that have just entered college and have been asking me for advice on how to get through their first year. I don’t want to give away my age but it’s been quite a while since my days on my old college campus, but here are my top five tips to making your college days fun and memorable, and at the very least would help save a lot of post-college headache:
>>LEARN HOW TO MANAGE YOUR FINANCES
“Don’t use your loan money to drink or buy a puppy. I’m paying interest on those vodka cranberries and my 5-year-old dog,” – Randi P. of Honolulu
“Pay your rent a semester at a time so that it’s one bill out of your mind.” – Hannah B., graduate of HPU
You’ll find out sooner than later that your college days will teach you to be frugal. Learning how to manage your money is a real important life lesson that you will be glad you learned early on. Financial expert Dave Ramsey has great online tools that will help you understand why it’s better to have a budget and teach you how to save money.
Sure you got approved for that student loan and it’s sitting pretty in your bank account right now but don’t be foolish and spend it on things that you’ll regret paying interest on. Interest doesn’t just apply to student loans but to credit cards too. Don’t be so tempted to get a credit card but if you do decide to get one, set a low spending limit and make sure that you are only charging amounts that you can easily pay back.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to truly understand your student loan situation. Take the time to understand how much you are borrowing, the interest rate it has and the repayment options. Sit down with your financial advisor and ask questions if you have to. You can be saving thousands of dollars in the process if you’re paying them back while you are in school and you can learn tips to prepare for when you do have to pay them back.
Better yet, do well in school and be well-rounded so that you can apply for scholarships. Since I went to a private university, scholarships helped a whole lot and basically helped me earn my undergraduate degree for only one-fourth of the price.
>>LEARN HOW TO COOK
“Have “Meatless Mondays” or learn to use what you have in the pantry. Eat more beans, it’s great fillers.” –Margaret B., occupational therapy graduate
When you learn how to manage your money, you’ll also learn that cooking at home is way cheaper than eating out all the time. Sure eating instant ramen is a cheap and fast food option but it’s not healthy. Learn how to cook meals that can last you a couple of days like beef stew or shoyu chicken. Those are options that require less prep time, can be easily cooked and are yummy.
When going on weekly grocery shopping trips, visit your local farmers markets for cheap fruits and vegetables. One thing that I loved about college was hosting potlucks with my friends or study groups. We would do it every other week and it was a great way to practice our cooking skills, try new food and was a great way to socialize.
>>TAKE THE TIME TO TRAVEL
“Go aboard to learn new things before graduating from college. With the experience, you will have cultural understanding,” –Kathleen V., IT professional
If there is one thing that I would highly recommend, it is to travel. I traveled so much during my college years and it has helped me become a better person. When you travel, you become more aware of social issues, your surroundings and also helps you become a lot more open and understanding. There are many college options when it comes to visiting other countries and they are at reasonable prices and with educational foundations.
An opportunity that I think is a great way to truly immerse yourself into a culture is studying abroad. You are able to study in a different country with different scenery, earn college credits, and learn to truly live independently. The study abroad opportunities and support that colleges have now days have expanded a lot since I’ve graduated. There are some clubs and organizations that have volunteer opportunities in other countries too.
>>SOCIALIZE STRATEGICALLY & FREELY
“Form a study group and join clubs/organizations. Most of these create a way for you to have a social life that is practically free,” – Romuald Z., Med. Surgery Registered Nurse
Joining clubs and organizations is a must. It will help you gain new friends that have similar interests as you. A lot of my close friends are from college and till this day, I’m thankful that our paths had crossed. A lot of the people that you meet in college also become great professional network connections in the long run. It will help open doors for you and help you meet other potential network connections.
Club and organizations also host tons of free events. Some of these events range from a picnic to having a guest speaker event. These events often times have free food or fun activities that can help you socialize in a fun atmosphere. Clubs and organizations also help you become a well-rounded individual and a great add on to your resume or scholarship applications.
I’ve known so many people that have landed jobs through clubs and professional organizations. There is a saying, “you are only as good as the company you keep” and when you are surrounded by like mind individuals, the better of a person you become.
>>RESEARCH YOUR CAREER
I know so many people that started college not knowing what they wanted to do. This meant that they took classes trying to figure it out and in the end meant thousands of dollars and time being wasted along the way. Clubs and organizations are a great way to get involved and helps you get an idea of the industry that you may potentially want to get into.
There are some things that can’t be taught in a classroom and another option that you may want to think about is internships and possibly looking for entry level positions within your industry of choice. This not only helps you get hands on experience but it also gets your foot in the door.
With internships and entry level jobs, you are also able to apply your academic training to your real life industry experiences and vice versa.
However in the end, the best advice is to have fun, right? My college years were probably the best years of my life.
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.