Why Is It So Important To Graduate Without Student Loans?

Why Is It So Important To Graduate Without Student Loans?

I want to save as many others as I can in my time on this earth, and in order to do so, I must be safe myself.
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Two weeks ago, I wrote the first article in what I'm calling my “college without debt” series. In tracking my own journey toward a debt-free college degree, I am hoping to show students in my own generation that college doesn't have to leave us with the dreadful student loan payment that oh-so-many adults have told us are the "way of life." I want to show the older generation that we aren't a “give me” generation, but rather that we are a “let me help with that” generation, looking to be the very best that we can be. And I want to do all this in a way that explains how other students, with aspirations such as my own, can get through college the same way.

I'm not going to try to make it sound like this is an easy journey by any means. I'm also not writing any of these articles for the sake of bragging about what I'm doing. I simply want to prove that it's possible to get through college without debt. This week, I want to answer one very important question I've been asked about my journey: Why? Why do I have the goal to graduate debt free?

One of the most common follow ups to the question “Why?” that I hear is, “That's what student loans are there for.” It's expected that if you decide to seek out secondary education straight out of high school, you'll be signing loan papers. That's the accepted way to do college. According to a CNN report, in 2014, 40 million Americans have at least one outstanding student loan, and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 20.2 million students were expected to attend college in the fall of 2015. Most of those 40 million are likely still paying those loans today, as well as many of those 20.2 million that took out student loans. And, most importantly, US News reports that, although the standard plan for repayment of federal student loans is 10 years, “research has shown the average bachelor's degree holder takes 21 years to pay off his or her loans.” I hope you're already seeing a reason for my rhetoric.

Not only does taking out student loans put you in debt for years (even decades), it's also a stressful process. There are many different kinds of loans, such as subsidized or unsubsidized, federal or private, Stafford or Perkin, and the list goes on and on. Personally, I have two options: Cash or check. And, since apparently you aren’t supposed to walk around with 50 $100 bills in your backpack, the latter is really my only option. Yes, I have a college fund, which has a process for taking money out of, as well as process for putting money into in the first place, but I didn't have to worry about legal trouble. Another plus was that the money I paid involved interest, and it was interest which worked for my benefit, rather than against me, in the long run.

My final, and personally, the most important reason for graduating without debt is that it's teaching me fiscal responsibility in order to live right in the future. I grew up listening to money expert Dave Ramsey in the car with my parents. I have always loved his slogan: “If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Not only does graduating without debt save me from having to pay that back later (along with the interest on the loans), but it's also teaching me how to make money, save money, and eventually I will be able to give money in love for others. A drowning man cannot save another drowning man. I want to save as many others as I can in my time on this earth, and in order to do so, I must be safe myself.

Cover Image Credit: flickr

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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A Message To High School Seniors

It's going to be alright.

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Dear High School Seniors,

You've made it! In just a few months you will be getting ready to put on your cap and gown and walk across the stage to get your diploma. Soon, you're gonna say goodbye to the life you've known for the past four years and start a new life somewhere else. At this point, your senioritis has most likely already kicked in and you're probably dreading waking up at 7 a.m. more and more each day. The second semester of senior year is annoying but cherish every moment of it.

Everything is about to change. As you walk down the hallways look around. Take a second to look at your classmates and ask them how their day is going. Learn about them and the stories they have to share with the world. Everybody has some advice to give and you never know what you're going to learn. Before you know it, you won't be seeing their faces anymore. The only form of connection you'll have with most of them is through social media which will eventually fade as well. You don't want your only memories of those you graduated with to be just seeing their face in the hall.

Go to the places you love the most. Whether it's your favorite hometown restaurant or your favorite place to hang out with your friends, go. Go until you're sick of it. Take a second to acknowledge the sights and smells around you. You're going to miss them. In a few months, you won't be able to jump in your car and drive five minutes to get there. The places that make your home your home are about to be a long car ride or flight away.

Spend time with your family. This is one thing I wish I realized earlier more than anything. Your parents are most likely going to soon become visibly upset or scared at the fact that you're leaving them. After all, you are their little girl or boy. This time is just as stressful for them as it is for you. But don't make fun of them, hang out with them. You're going to miss the once dreaded trips to the grocery store with your mom and the annoying car rides with your little brother. You really don't realize how important your family is to you until they're not a few footsteps away anymore. Unfortunately, no amount of facetime calls will ever compare to being with them in person. Don't leave home wishing you had spent more time with them.

Be involved in the things happening at your school. Go to prom. Buy a yearbook and get as many people as you can to sign it. Go to the football, basketball, baseball and soccer games you have left. These activities may seem boring at times but they are what you're going to miss. When you get to a big university it isn't going to be as easy to get involved.

Get excited about for the future. Even if you're not going to your dream school, it's going to be ok. The second semester of my senior year I spent upset over the fact I was going to stay at an in-state school. The school I'm at now was the last place I had thought about attending. I almost didn't even apply. However, I am so lucky that I did. I truly can not imagine there being a school that could have been a better choice for me. The people I have met and the opportunities I have been given would have never been put in front of me if I had attended another school. Try to keep an open mind. Everything really does happen for a reason. If you aren't going to the school you originally were hoping to, don't stress. You're going to end up at the place right for you, at least I know I did.

College is amazing but there will always be something special about your home. Make sure you make these last few months your best months. These next few months will be filled with a whole lot of lasts and followed by a whole lot of firsts. Good luck!

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