A Letter to my University Self
Dear young, university self. Congratulations on surviving High School, that was certainly an interesting experience. Now you’re finally at university, after what felt like a lifetime. Here are the things I wish I had known when I was 18, that would have saved me a lot of money, debt and stress. I think it is a bit awkward that most students go to university straight after school, with little experience juggling their finances, living independently and paying back debt. So here is what I wish I knew:
1) You’ll Have to Pay That Loan Back
Yeah, so those documents you’re signing, requesting all that money – well, you’re going to have to pay it back. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen or earned that much money in your whole life, you’re still going to have to pay it back and probably at the most annoying time in your life, like when you’re ready to start saving for your own home. As such, get as small loans as possible. You know that overly prepared friend who was saving throughout High School to minimise their student loans? You should have followed suit.
2) Save and Save
Building up respectable savings is the last thing on your mind right now, as you’re busy being distracted by the new environment that is university, the cheap booze and your new friends. However, savings are good and they will help you when you leave university and hope to find a job. By the time you graduate, the job market will be pretty crap, so a nice safety net of savings would help you feel a lot more secure.
You’re already working quite a lot during the term, but during the holidays you could seriously pick up your game. Picking up a part time weekend job will really help amp up your savings and/or reduce your student loan. Even though it might cut a little into your social life, it will be worth it as it will help you out so much when you graduate. If you don’t, you’ll wish you had.
To be honest, I had a really great time at university so there’s nothing I really regret, although starting out your adult life with a pretty large sum of debt is a bit disheartening. I would focus most of my efforts on trying to minimise that so I had more options and freedom at graduation.