With student loan debt recently hitting $1.3 trillion, a lot of people are blaming things like the rising average cost of college, administrative bloat and infrastructure overspending at colleges, and cutbacks in state funding for the crisis.
While all of these factors play a significant role in the problem, they all focus on things that are beyond student’s control. But are there some things that students or their parents are doing that could potentially be increasing their student loan debt and adding to the crisis?
While many students are very conscientious about their student loan debt, there are a number of ways that some students are racking up student loan debt when they don’t have to. Here are four of them:
Not Knowing What They Want to Major in
There’s a common belief among some parents, teachers, and guidance counselors that students who don’t know what they want to study should go to college and figure it out while they’re there. The problem with this piece of advice is that it’s hopelessly outdated. When college tuition was much less expensive, it might have made sense for students to spend some time taking courses and figuring out what they want to do with their lives. But nowadays, doing so will just rack up significant amounts of student loan debt.
If a student goes to college and starts taking courses in a particular discipline only to discover that they’re actually interested in another field, then the student will likely have wasted thousands of dollars on unnecessary student loans.
Students who are undecided may want to start out at a much cheaper option – community college. They can build college credits and declare a major all at a fraction of the cost.
Not Knowing What They Want to Do With Their Degrees
The second problem that some students run into is that while they know what they want to major in, they’re not certain what career it will lead to.
It’s important for students to see college as the financial investment it is and have a clear idea of what types of careers they will be qualified for after they graduate.
Not Taking College Seriously
Pop-cultural depictions of college life still seem to suggest that the most important part of the college experience is social. While the social experiences that you have while at college are incredibly important, many students aren’t able to balance the social and academic parts of college. This leads them to spend too much time partying and not enough time studying.
Going to College When it’s Not the Right Fit
There’s a certain prestige attached to going to college and having a white-collar career. For this reason, a lot of parents push their children to get a college degree when they might not be academically suited for college.
What students and parents don’t understand is that there are many blue-collar professions that are in high demand and pay better than some white-collar jobs.
What Can Be Done?
Ultimately, students and their families need to take student loans much more seriously. Too many parents and students don’t understand the consequences of student loans and sign up for them without fully understanding the sacrifices involved in paying them back.
Author: Dave Rathmanner
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