Monday, July 28, 2014

Preparing for College - Mentally & Financially


Are you ready for college? Fall is right around the corner and that means it’s almost time to head back to school. You probably have your classes picked out and have started shopping for your dorm room or apartment, but are you mentally and financially ready for college? You’ll need to use these last few weeks of summer to prepare your mind for college level classes and your wallet for the cost of tuition. Here are some tips that could help you steady your focus.

MENTAL AND ACADEMIC PREPARATION

Going to college for the first time or heading back after an absence can be an overwhelming experience. For some, it may be their first time away from home which brings its own set of life adjustments. Being organized can help alleviate some stress that you will face during this transition.
  • Keep an updated calendar or planner. Succeeding in college requires a keen sense of time management. Your classes will be longer, your study materials will be heavier and your deadlines will be shorter. You’ll want to utilize a planner more than you did when you were in high school. Buy one now and map out when midterms and finals will be so you can go into the academic semester knowing what to expect. You could also set up the calendar on your phone with reminders to reflect important dates throughout the academic year.

  • Reflect on your study habits. Did you procrastinate in high school? The first day of your college course when the syllabus is reviewed will most likely be overwhelming. You can avoid being caught off guard by the amount of work you have by looking into what your courses will require ahead of time. If you want to know what type of course load to expect you can email your professors before the semester begins. Strategize what study methods helped you in high school and weed out the ones that weren’t productive. Establishing positive study habits early on will help you with the rest of your college career.

  • Find students you have a shared connection with. Establishing relationships with at least one other student before you arrive to campus will help you feel more acquainted with the school. To find some new college buddies before you move, ask friends and other acquaintances if they know of someone attending your college. Touch base with your new connections online a few times before the semester begins. You could also research clubs and societies you could join at your school to find other students that share similar interests as you.

FINANCIAL PREPARATION

If you don’t plan ahead before you go to college, you may find yourself saddled with debt come graduation time. To avoid this, you will want to establish a realistic budget of what you will spend during your college career.
  • Start a savings and checking account. Experts recommend that you save at least three months of living expenses at any given time. Starting your savings account before you head off to college is a great idea. Community Financial offers Free Basic Savings and Student Certificate of Deposits for members ages 13 to 23. We want you to feel empowered to save your money, that’s why we offer these accounts to get you started. We even have Deposit Punch Card Rewards that pay you to save!

    We also offer Free Student Checking for members ages 16 to 23. There are no maintenance fees or balance requirements, and it includes a free Visa Debit Card to help you make purchases for college and beyond. Having a credit card while in college is for the sole purpose of building credit and should not be viewed as a way to spend more money! Always pay on time and make sure that you have the cash to pay off the card in full after each month.

  • Consider selling your car. If you are going to a school in a city where a car doesn’t make financial sense, selling might be a good option. To take a trip home you can find a carpool forum around campus or consider taking the train if it’s an available option. Not having a car while in college could help you save money since you wouldn’t have to pay for parking, maintenance fees or insurance.

  • Apply for scholarships and financial aid. Financing all of the expenses for a college education can be daunting. A private student loan from Community Financial can help fill the void. Our private student loans do not have a need-based component, so they are open to all members. You can borrow anywhere from $2,000 to $30,000 a year. Apply quickly and hassle-free with no application or processing fees on our Private Student Loans page.

    You should also apply for as many scholarships as you can before heading to college. Scholarships are the most underutilized source of financial aid for college. Every year, Community Financial grants thousands of dollars in scholarships for its student members who embody our “People Helping People” philosophy. To learn more about this program visit our scholarships page.
Deciding to go to college is a big decision. The more prepared you are mentally and financially, the easier it will be to make the transition into your new life on campus.

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