I must admit I’m getting tired of seeing these endless articles and blogs about people unable to pay off their student loan debt. The most recent one on Yahoo! featured a man with an admittedly “useless” bachelor’s degree in English living in a van while attending grad school and willing to let his dad take on a second job and mortgage on the house to help pay his student loan debt. I’m another one of those with a “useless” English degree who went on to get a probably-just-as-useless Master’s degree in writing — and I don’t relate to these people at all.
In short, I had no idea about financial aid, scholarships or anything else like that when I began university. I attended grad school in London, which doubled those expenses; I ended up with nearly six figures in student loan debt. Just three years after grad school, I’ve nearly paid everything off — and without living in a van. While it’s anyone’s guess what some people with similar degrees are doing wrong, I have a few theories.
Make Your Own Career
Most throwaway degrees are in the arts, and that’s simply not a lucrative field if you start perusing the want ads for a theater major. People are drawn to these degrees because they’re passionate about them, so start getting creative. There probably won’t be a high-paying job neatly outlined on Craigslist. Take that degree and start figuring out how it can translate into a lucrative career, such as search engine optimization (SEO) writing.
Many creative types can also be successful freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners, but that requires an immense amount of drive. Unlike those in engineering programs, there aren’t nearly as many jobs waiting for us. Take the initiative and look into options that aren’t as safe or easy as something that comes with a 10-page application. At the same time, start figuring out the reality of student loan payments.
Being Budget Savvy
Everyone needs a budget, no matter how much (or little) you make. Prioritize those student loans, and never opt for deferment because that interest will just keep creeping up. There’s no reason student loan debt has to mimic a mortgage or take 30 years to pay off. Trust me, if you pay them off soon after school, you’ll feel immensely more secure and wealthier during your 30s and 40s, where it really counts.
Job searches can be daunting, and it’s important to keep on the hunt even if you already have a stand-by job. If your dream is to work for rehab facilities in Florida, start making that happen today. Move to Florida, pick up a layover job to pay the bills and start working every single day towards a more rewarding and higher paying job. They’re out there, but they’re only there for those who put in the effort.
Michelle is a blogger and feelancer. She’s written about almost every topic under the sun, and loves constantly learning about new subjects and industries while she’s writing. In her spare time she enjoys spending time outdoors with her dogs. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.