September 24th, 2009
5 Reasons Why It’s (Not) the Worst Time to Be A College Grad
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The Class of 2010 is probably all too familiar with hearing doomsday-esque warnings about Graduation Day from everyone including the guy sitting beside them at Starbucks to close relatives and even their nosy neighbors, saying, “We’re in a recession”, “Unemployment is still on the rise”, “Your liberal arts degree isn’t very useful, is it?”, and, “What are you going to do after you graduate, in this economy?”
Getting ready to graduate and move on to the “real world” is not as promising as it seemed when this year’s soon-to-be college grads were eager freshmen back in the day. And in the face of fears like unemployment, large student loans, and nosy neighbors, there are lots of reasons to think this year may be the worst time to be a college senior.
Don’t let these reasons depress you–these are five reasons why you should see the college senior’s half-empty glass as, actually, half-full:
- Jobs– Yes, the unemployment rate will probably hit 10% by graduation next June and you will probably experience the average 6-8 months of unemployment that many young professionals are currently going through. No, you do not need to despair. First off, unemployment is a natural part of the cycle of a career; it is not a failure and it does not stall your life–looking for a job is still actively progressing towards your career. What is going to be important five years from now isn’t that you were unemployed at this time, but how you handled being unemployed. Remain persistent and ambitious about the job you want and keep sending out resumes daily because you will come across opportunities. For many it may be better to settle for a lower-paying job in the field you actually want, instead of getting stuck in a career path you have no interest or passion in. As a college graduate, you do have a job right after you graduate and that is to look for a job, so approach your job search with as much work ethic and dedication as you would your first job.
- Housing– You might be homeless post-graduation when your college apartment lease expires, but fear not! You could move back into your parent’s house and save yourself some money; its the life of “being taken care of” and blowing your money on things like shopping and entertainment, but just remember that Mom still makes the rules. Opting for rentals is expensive because no one is buying new homes, but you can cut costs by doing what you’ve been doing for the last four years—rent with roommates. Sharing appliances, furniture, utility bills, rent, and space will be beneficial to all of you and will help your household adopt a frugal and cost-conscious mindset.
- Student Loans– Student loans will begin repayment period within 6 to 9 months of graduating, so be prepared to pay by then. Regularly budgeting it into your monthly expenses will make it less of a stress and more of an accepted part of your finances and your life to be dealt with as efficiently as possible. As long as you pay at least the minimum payment (more if possible!) on-time, your credit report will stay healthy.
- Budgeting– It will no longer be as simple as budgeting for eating out, movies, clothes, and other fun stuff. Graduating takes away Dad and Mom’s monthly checks; you will soon be responsible for rent, utilities, car insurance, food, internet, transportation, and more. Since this will take some help and getting used to, check out personal finance management sites that can do all the work for you: they automatically pull your accounts together and calculate your spending so you can see how you’ve been spending your money and where to cut back. If you want to keep it simple, sit down with a pen and paper and write your monthly income, subtract all necessary expenses like bills (don’t fool yourself—eating out twice a week is not necessary), and whatever is left over after is what you can spend or save.
- Debt– The average college student graduates with just over a $3,000 balance on their credit card, and tack on student loans in a few months, and you can end up spending most of your 20s trying to dig yourself out of debt from college instead of saving up for your first house or investing in a 401(K) plan. The best way to start dealing with the burden of debt is to start paying it off NOW so you don’t have to fear dealing with it later when more interest will have accrued. Another plus side to paying off debts now is that your credit report will become healthier and healthier, which means a healthier credit score that will help you when it comes time for a home mortgage, auto loan, or new credit card.
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