After reading many bloggers’ financial mistakes on the chain, I discovered that I have more than I identified on my first mistake post. Therefore I decided to put out more financial mistakes I made, in particular the ones I made during my time in college.
When your college life begins, most are also starting out with their first job. That means being responsible going to classes, working and handling your money. And like a lot of working college students, I did not make the best decisions on how to spend my money. So here are the four financial mistakes I made when I was living the college life:
1. Should have gone to a community college instead of a university
Right after graduating high school, the last place I wanted to start off my college career was at the community college that was right across the street where I attended high school. With a lot of my high school classmates going to a university or attending one outside the bay area, I did not want to feel like I was one of the students that went to a community college because I was too prideful to go to four year university. So after being accepted to 2 four year universities, I felt it was a no-brainer to go to either one of them. I didn’t really care about how much the tuition at that time because I was going to a university.
During my first semester during college, I was talking with a high school classmate that was going to the same university as I did and informed me that one of our other classmates changed his mind from attending a university and instead went a community college. His plan was to take all the GE (general education) classes their then once he’s done, transfer to a university where he can take classes for his major so he can save a good amount of money in the meantime. When I heard that, I was thinking what a great plan he had and maybe I should do that too after this first semester. Instead I liked how college life was going for me and stayed at the university throughout the duration as an undergraduate.
Now after reflecting upon this dreadful decision, I could have saved close to $1000 a semester for 2-3 years by going to a community college. What could have been financially for me…aghhh!!
2. Paid for a Parking Permit
Another mistake I really despise. During my first semester I took the shuttle to campus and it was convenient for me to take because the shuttle pick up was about a ten minute walk to and from my house. I also got my driver’s license during this time and my dad let me drive our family van wherever I wanted to go. So being with cool person I thought I was, I signed up for a parking permit the following semester with the parking garage is adjacent to the university. I did it because driving to campus was the cool thing to do right? Well that parking permit costs me $80 a semester and paid for it for the next four years. Since its two semesters a year at our university I paid $160 a year for four years that equals to $640. What’s even worse is that my house was only a 5-10 minute drive to the university. I could have either taken that shuttle or just walk to campus at no charge.
I stopped paying for permit during my last two years at the university (took me six years to get my undergrad degree…more on that the next mistake) since they stopped giving permits and instead charged parking on a daily basis. Still being the ignorant student I was, I drove to school by parking on the street instead of taking that school shuttle for free. Well at least it was free parking!
3. Should Have Taken More Classes Each Semester
At the university I attended, they offered two flat rate tuition charges. I believe at the time, they charged $700 for taking 6 units and under for the first choice and $1500 for the taking over 6 units for the second choice. Throughout my whole time there, I only took 15 units (5 classes) twice (two semesters) and all the other times I took 12 units (4 classes). I should have taken advantage of that flat rate because if I had taken 15 units more often and on occasion 18 units (6 classes), I would have graduated a year or two sooner and would have saved about up to $6K. I felt at that time that taking five classes was bit much and wanted to coast during college by taking four classes. Everyone else around me was doing the same and at that rate it took six years to get that undergrad degree so I thought why not be part of the crowd which I unfortunately did.
3. Going to a Private Graduate School
After getting my bachelor’s degree at the university I took a year off from school and planned to comeback to university for graduate school. But in order for me to qualify for graduate school, I had to pass a test called the GMAT(Graduate Management Admission Test) which assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills. I signed up for the test which included a $200 fee. I did not study nor was I aware that there were prep books and courses no how to take this test. I went to the testing center with no clue how the format was going to be. I ended up failing the test badly.
Not wanting to pay the $200 fee to take the test again, I looked into other grad schools and ended up finding a private grad school that had their own placement test with no fees. I took the test and passed on the first try. I felt relieved that I got into grad school and didn’t really care about the tuition rates since I wouldn’t have to start paying until I graduated. Man that was not a great decision financially. After receiving my masters from grad school, I had $40K in student loans and took me a while to pay it off.
If I had to do it again, I would have prepared for that GMAT by either reading prep books from the library or taken a GMAT prep class and I would most likely passed the second time around and went back to the public university for graduate school. Paying another $200 fee feels like chump change now compared to how much I paid in student loans. Also, I believe the public university’s tuition rate was close to $2K a semester and I would have most likely paid that off every semester. Based on the number of classes I would have taken in grad school at the public university I would have paid a grand total of $10K. That’s only a quarter of what I paid at the private university I attended. If I did all this, I wouldn’t have paid back student loans and would have gotten the same degree.
Did you make some of the same mistakes I made during your time in college? Any financial mistakes you made during college that you want to share? Feel free to comment