Off-to-College Tips From Someone Who's Been There

Finally, the time has come… college! You’re probably so excited to head off you can barely take it, I know I was. I couldn’t wait to go off to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and have all the freedom in the world! But with all that freedom comes a lot of responsibility, especially when it comes to money. So, before you go here’s a few lessons learned that might help set you up for success.

My 5 tips every student should know before going off to college:

  1. College is expensive, don’t skip class.
    Nobody is going to force you to go to class like they did in high school; it’s your decision if you go. That being said, when you calculate it out, an average college course costs $40 a class. Would you just throw away $40!? Try to schedule your classes when you focus best and are most likely to go. I always tried to schedule my classes from 9-2, so I didn’t have to wake up too early and could go to work after. Don’t waste your money, go to class!

  2. Small purchases add up.
    You might not realize it in the moment, but the small purchases you make add up quick. My guilty pleasure during college was coffee. That $5 coffee sounded so good in the moment, but twice a week for all 4 years of college added up to $2,080. Try making yourself a budget and actually sticking to it!

  3. Start building credit now, so you can buy stuff later.
    You need good credit for big purchases in your near future, like buying a car. Building credit can be easier than you think. Find somewhere with a low-rate credit card and use it for simple everyday purchases. When I was in college I used my credit card to pay for groceries and gas. Then I would pay it off in full each month and watch my credit score climb!

  4. Pay attention to student loans.
    Student loan debt can seem pretty scary. It’s a lot of money and you might feel like you’ll be paying it off forever. The interest rate you have is going to affect how much you pay in the long run. Find the lowest interest rate for your student loan and consolidate or refinance when rates go down.

  5. Find a bank in your college town.
    When you move away from home, you may be moving away from your current bank. Find one near campus you can trust to open a checking account and debit card. It will be so much more convenient to have one near you, especially when you get a job! I was a waitress in college and needed a bank near me to deposit my tips.Check out what perks different banks offer, like fee free ATMs, to help you make a decision.

And most of all… Appreciate it, it’s going to fly by.
If you thought that high school flew by, you won’t believe what hits you in college! One day you’re wandering the dorm halls trying to make new friends and the next you’re walking across the stage at graduation. College is a once in a life time experience, savor every second, it’ll go by in the blink of an eye.

About the blogger
Hi there! My name is Hannah Alitz. I just graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse with a marketing degree in May. Currently, I am the Social Media and Marketing Intern at Affinity Plus. I grew up in the small town in Minnesota, called Lake City. Some of my favorite things are traveling around the world, being outdoors, and spending time with my family.