Going to university (or college) can be a liberating experience. No parents to tell you when to get up in the morning, or teachers to give you detention when you don’t get your work in on time. However, it’s easy to fall into this hedonistic lifestyle of partying all night and sleeping all day and spending all your money in the process.
You wouldn’t believe how many institutions will be falling over backward to loan you as much money as your beer belly desires. The banks will throw overdrafts at you and there are more loans and grants than you can shake a stick at.
Be warned, however, although it seems so at the time, this is not free money, and you will one day have to pay it all back. So with that in mind, here are a few tips to help you keep those finances in order.
When you head to the fresher’s fair, you find every bank under the sun, advertising their ‘new’ amazing student offer; a free toaster, puke bucket and young person’s bus pass for every new account and an overdraft that will pay for your new Nintendo Wii AS WELL AS 204 nights on the lash.
At this stage, the banks may seem all sweetness and honey, but the moment you are no longer enrolled they’ll come after you gnashing their teeth like hungry piranhas. Therefore it’s best if you can possibly manage it, to steer clear of your overdraft. Of course, you might use a few pennies in times of starvation but look at it more as a last measure than a luxurious freebie.
The ludicrous bureaucracy that accompanies the process of applying for your student loan is tedious and tear-your-hair-out irritating, but unless your parents bathe in rivers of gold, your loan is likely to be essential. The Student Loans Company website is where the magic happens, and it’s worth taking the time to familiarize yourself with the site before sending off your form as the slightest mistake could mean an extra month of living on leftovers.
The loan is low interest and you don’t have to think about paying it back until you’re earning at least £15,000 per year. Having said that, the monthly repayments are noticeable so it’s worth saving as much as you can. If you do take a student loan, which the vast majority of students will, then you’ll find yourself paying for it later. Loans are means-tested, but you can expect £1,200 three times per year (barely enough to cover the rent).
Brilliant. If you happen to be over 21 our generous government will afford you an extra £2,500 or so each year which you DON’T have to pay back. This grant is essential if you don’t want to spend every waking minute outside of University working in Uncle Joe’s Kebab Parlor, however, although it may sound like a lot of money it really doesn’t go far. It is just about possible to live off your loan and grant, but finding a job is an excellent way of subsidizing your partying habit.
Most universities offer means-tested bursaries to help students who come from low-income families. They’re quite sneaky about these and you’re unlikely to hear about them until late on in your first year, so as soon as you arrive at Uni, it’s worth popping down to the main office, or the Student’s Union and asking someone the best way to apply for bursaries. Bursaries can mean an extra £1,200 each year.
Most students are likely to spend their University lives without two pennies to rub together, but they’ll have a great time nevertheless. The problem for students, in terms of their finances, is a lack of foresight. With just a small amount of planning, perhaps a part-time job, and researching the right institutions, students are likely to enter the big bad world in much better financial health.
Tips for Students with Undecided Majors
For some college students, deciding on a major is easy. However, there are some college students who are unsure of what they want to study, what major will get them into the field they wish to enter, or even what they want to do following college graduation. These students are often given the designation of having an undecided or exploratory major until the student decides on a program of study.
However, students with undecided or exploratory majors should not see this as an excuse to take their time declaring a major. Not declaring a major as soon as possible could mean missing important course requirements that are only offered on rotation, or possibly spending an extra semester or year in college to finish a degree.
Finding a Major for Undecided College Students
Students who set foot on campus with an undecided or exploratory major should begin deciding on a college major right away. Ideally, students should have their major declared by the end of their freshman year of college to make sure they have plenty of time to get all of their major’s course requirements, internships, and seminars taken prior to their anticipated date of graduation.
Students who are unsure of what to study should visit the academic advising office, either for the college or university or in the school division that they may be interested in. At the academic advising office, staff has a variety of resources available to help students decide on a major and what each major that college or university offers require of its students in order to graduate.
For those who know their desired career but are unsure of how to get there, or who are unsure of what they want to do following college graduation, the career development center or career services department has resources that will be of use to these students. Most career services centers have books, handouts, and other resources profiling many different careers, from social work to education to business to counseling, and common majors that professionals in these fields had during college. These resources also outline the necessary skills that candidates must possess in order to be successful in a particular career.
Tips for Students with Undecided Majors
Just because students have an undecided major does not mean that they can take fun electives until they decide on a major program of study.
Instead, students with undecided or exploratory majors need to get as many general education requirements, also known as liberal arts requirements or institutional requirements, out of the way as they can until he or she decides on a major. By doing so, students do not have to worry about fitting four years or more of classes and other major requirements into three years of college or less, depending on when they declare their major.
In addition, students who are unsure of a major but know that they would like to study a particular field in some way, shape, or form can declare a minor while still having an undecided major. This can also be helpful for students who are searching for a major that they enjoy; if a student enjoys his or her minor and could see themselves in this field in the future, then the minor can be switched to a major and courses already completed usually transfer to a student’s new major.
It is also important to remember that students with undecided majors should not continue with undecided majors for too long. Not declaring a major means that students may require extra time in college in order to complete all of the necessary requirements. In addition, some colleges and universities have limitations on how long scholarships and grants are available to students, and after a student has exceeded a specified number of terms, then that financial aid expires and the student will have to make up the difference with other financial aid or student loans.
There are many resources for students with undecided or exploratory majors who are looking for a program of study in college. It is important to decide on a major program of study quickly, though, in order to avoid unexpected financial and time constraints on students.