Thought Catalog

10 Things You Stress About In College That Don’t Actually Matter (Like, At All)

Posted: 31 Aug 2015 09:11 PM PDT

Twenty20 / step_itup
Twenty20 / step_itup

1. Who you've slept with.

As a college student, your social world constitutes one relatively small, isolated bubble. It’s virtually impossible to have sex with someone and never see that person again when you’re bound to bump into them on the great lawn between classes, at the library, or at the next major tailgate. Inside the tiny nugget that is campus life, news also travels fast, compounding the illusion that your recent tryst with so-and-so is at all worthy of note. The beauty of actual adult life is that it’s far easier to sleep with someone without anyone else finding out. No one really cares who you boink or blow in the real world, and it’s way better that way.

2. The number of people you've slept with.

When you're young and sex is still new, it makes sense to keep track of how many people you've slept with. Depending on your personal outlook, every uptick in your number either feels like an accomplishment, or one more devastating step towards becoming a total slut. But the time when people bother to ask about your big bad number fades quickly after you graduate. As long as you’re disease free, the question of how many people you've had sex with seems moot once you exit your early twenties. Presumably, you've had more than one partner, but no one worth knowing is going to judge you for having five versus twenty-five proverbial notches on the belt.

3. What school you go to.

For so long, your entire life was defined by the work you did to get into college. Every extracurricular activity was assessed for its potential to enrich your college applications. Every test you took was an opportunity to improve your chances at being accepted by the school of your dreams. Every high school class you enrolled in was an attempt to diversify your transcript to appeal to a university’s admissions board. Guess what? Aside from your fellow alumni, no one really gives two shits where you get your education in the end.

4. What your major and/or minor is.

Similarly, after a certain age no one cares what you studied in college. Yes, certain degrees will position you better for certain careers. But for the most part, companies will hire you because they like you as a human being, and because they think you're smart and hardworking. The truth is that you're probably going to have to develop a whole new skill set to do any job well, so what's important is whether you're committed, capable of learning, and pleasant to be around (i.e. not smelly). Don't overestimate the importance of the specific degree you pursue, and don't underestimate the importance of showering regularly.

5. What your GPA is.

That number that haunts you for four straight years doesn't matter nearly as much as your parents and professors might like you to believe. The regular world is filled with super successful people who did terribly in college. Kudos if you're in line to graduate magna cum laude, but don't bother boasting about that special certificate once you walk through the main gates that last time. Why? Because no one will listen except for your mom and dad. Your GPA simply isn't an accurate indicator of your ability to add value to most professional environments. Everyone knows this except the stressed out college kids chasing that soon-to-be meaningless 4.0 average.

6. How much you can drink.

Bragging about how much you can drink is the natural offshoot of a lifestyle centered on getting blitzed. Once you leave the binge-drinking oasis that is your college campus, however, you will probably realize that getting blackout drunk isn't all that rewarding—because it leads to a debilitating hangover (they get worse over the years, people), and because you can't even remember what was fun about that oh-so-memorable night out. That's when you'll curb your alcohol consumption, quickly noting that grownups tend to admire people who keep their shit in check, not those who pride themselves on the speed at which they can puke and rally.

7. How good you are at beer pong.

Drinking games are a great way to get drunk fast. That's why so many college parties revolve around beer pong, quarters, and other competitions designed to get you wasted on cheap beer stat. It's easy to understand how winning a tournament might make someone feel great, even if it's a beer pong tourney and everyone they triumph over ends up passed out on the floor. But talking shit about how good you are at landing a ping pong ball in a cup half full of stale beer won't get you anywhere outside that frat house. Promise.

8. Just how little you care about stuff.

Not caring is a badge of honor many a laid back, chill-ass college student loves to wear. It could be that the typical collegiate experience is too cozy to leave room for understanding that the world is a crazy weird place rife with reasons to care about things. When you can roll out of bed at 10am in your pajamas and head to class for an hour before hitting the cafeteria, maybe it's hard to see that life sucks for a lot of people. Once ripped from the snug little universe that becomes your alma mater, hopefully you figure out just how cool it is to care about shit after all.

9. How many friends you have.

Joe and Jane College know literally everyone. They can't walk from the dorm to the library without high-fiving at least ten people, they know the location of every party before anyone else, and they can tell you within minutes exactly how you're connected to a classmate on the campus wide hookup tree. Having so many friends is a crucial part of the college citizen's identity creation process. But socializing doesn't typically remain central to a grownup's life as the years pass. So knowing literally *everyone* won’t always get you laid, or earn you any cool points. Having a few quality relationships in place of tons of quasi-friends might just keep you sane, though.

10. What all your friends are doing *right this second.*

It's virtually impossible not to live with a certain amount of FOMO throughout college. There's always so much going on, and you don't want to be the one who's not living it up. So you expend lots of energy monitoring all the options and regretting not going out when your friends report that the house party you skipped was indeed everything it was supposed to be. With the wisdom gained from living a few years post college, it should become clear that keeping up with the Kardashians plus all your friends is an exhausting pursuit that might just kill your soul. Truth is, it doesn't matter what everyone in your social circle is doing at this exact moment. It rarely does. Check in if you genuinely feel like connecting with a pal, but don't touch base just to fill your brain with more useless details regarding other people's boring existences. TC mark

7 Crucial Sex Tips Every Freshman Woman Should Take To College

Posted: 01 Sep 2015 04:00 PM PDT


1. Finding friends is more important than finding people to hook up with.

Way more important. Far too many women squander their first year of school stressing over who they’re gonna hook up with, and when, and how many times, and how popular he is, and how many sport$$$ he plays, etc., because they’re convinced that the point of college is to hook up—it’s not. I’m not suggesting you should neglect your love/sex life entirely (unless, of course, you want to)…I’m just saying that having good girlfriends next year (and the year after that) is waaaay more valuable than having a pair of sweaty balls in your twin XL every night. College is for work, friends, and connections—boys come after all that shit.

2. Do what(whom)ever you want.

People are going to insist that, as a freshman, there are some things/people you just musn't do—That Very Important Senior Girl's ex, for example. It's all bullshit. Do whomever, whenever, and don't apologize for your sexual appetite.

3. …But stay safe while you do it.

I don't care if you're on birth control and he's the captain of the football team, ejaculates gold, and is "definitely STD-free"—USE. A. CONDOM. And remember that, unlike the asshole who's trying to stick his shit in you sans-rubber, herpes is for life. Use your brain, and don't ever be pressured into staying anything less than safe.

4. Age really is just a number.

As a freshman girl, you’re a suuuuuper sought-after commodity among senior dudes. And, a lot of the time, you’ll dig it—you’ll love that you have all these three-years-older eyes on you, putting you on a sexual pedestal just cuz you’re new enough to think there’s actually something inherently cooler about them than guys your age. But, trust, there isn’t—and I’ve found that, more often than not, these ~older~ guys are not the way to go. There’s just something gross and infantilizing about the way senior boys fetishize freshman girls…about the way they violently eye-fuck you just because they’ve never seen you before, so they think you must be slightly more virginal and exciting than the girls they have seen. Just remember that these dudes are literally NOT much older than you, that they wield some incredibly twisted sense of authority over you cuz they know you think their senior status automatically gives them serious social/sexual capitol, and that, in the end, their three-to-four years of seniority does. Not. Give them the right to treat you like shit.

5. Experiment!

Go crazy, bb. Experiment, whatever that means to you. Explore your not-so-hetero impulses and everything else you’ve been itching (hopefully not literally) to try in college. These four years are great for figuring out what you like, and learning how to ask for it.

6. Trust your gut.

It's a powerful, intuitive organ. For real. When a questionably creepy dude has his hand on the small of your back, whispering not-so-sweet nothings in your ear while you down that rum and coke he insisted you accept, don't stick around because you feel some strange sense of obligation towards this weirdo you just met. Be polite, and follow your instincts; if something doesn't feel right about the situation—whether you're pre-, mid-, or post-hook up—make your exit. And remember, you don't owe shit to anyone but you.

7. Relax—no one cares.

Well, you do. You care desperately (this is not a self-excluding chirp, btw…I, too, care/d desperately) about every little sexual mishap for which you, terrified and green, think you’ll be judged. Maybe you will be—if so, fuck it. Those girls who’re judging are jealous and have nothing better to do than tear one of their own down for fucking the wrong dude on the wrong day, and those guys who are judging, well…they’re jealous, too, and they’ll forget about it as soon as they nail a chick half as cool as you. Most of the time though, no one cares about who you did (or didn’t do) and why (or why not). So relax, and just worry about doing you, baby boo. TC mark

7 Reasons The Friends You Meet In College Are The Best Ones You’ll Ever Have

Posted: 01 Sep 2015 12:28 PM PDT


1. You were friends when friends were the most important thing in your life.

Later on your partner and/or your kids, and maybe even your job will come first. But in your college years, your friends were the most important thing in your world, making your bond stronger than any other friendships you’ll make in your life.

2. They became your family.

When you leave home for college, you’re alone for the first time in your life. In all the places of love and support your family used to fit, you fill in the spaces with friends. You go to new homes for Thanksgiving, text new people when you’re stressed out, and learn to make a family out of people you choose.

3. You will always know the fun-loving, carefree side of each other.

College isn’t the “best time of your life” (if you’re lucky, life keeps getting better), but it is some of the most fun, carefree years you will have. All of the fun things that make you a Real Adult like getting married, having a career, owning a home — those things are also anchors. They keep you in one place and make you someone who pays attention to the consequences of your decisions. You’re not selling your textbooks for Red Hot Chili Peppers tickets anymore — and that’s exactly why you should always keep your college friends close. They’ll remind you that you love to have fun, and that’s not something you should ever lose as you grow up.

4. They’ve seen you at your worst, and loved you for it.

In every college friend relationship there is a night out gone wrong story. Someone puked on someone or slept with someone or passed out somewhere or generally was just a horror show of a human being for a night. It happens to everyone when you are learning how to drink and learning that there are more important things in life than a hot guy wanting to hook up with you. Your friendships with your college friends are stronger than any others because you’ve forgiven them, you know they are far from perfect and you have chosen to go on loving them.

5. You’ve gone through some of the hardest times in life together.

Talk to someone in their 30’s about their early 20’s years and they’ll all say a version of the same thing: “I had so much fun, but you couldn’t pay me to be that age again.” While your college years can be some great years, they are also incredibly stressful and difficult. You are learning how to be an adult and deal with adult problems, but unlike every other time in your life you lack the confidence and experience of having done similar things before. This is where you rely on your friends and you get through it together.

6. Later in life, they are the ones who can truly appreciate the magnitude of your success, because they knew you when you were a hot mess.

Whether it’s finding a career you love and growing it bigger and bigger, or finding a great love when you never thought it would happen to you — we all have highs in life and they can be best appreciated by thinking about where you started. Your college friends know this. They’ve seen you crying into your drink because of a guy or working shitty unpaid internship after shitty unpaid internship. They are so earnestly happy for you and your success because they’ve seen you struggle and they know how much you deserve it.

There’s a reason Drake wrote about him and his friends, not just himself in ‘Started from the Bottom:’

7. You’ve built your life around them.

When you become an adult with someone, you grow together. You tend to like to do the same things, join the same gym, introduce your work friends to each other over happy hours and Sunday morning Brunch. They are a load-bearing pole in your life. It will always make sense for so many reasons for them to be a part of whatever you are doing. TC mark

10 Struggles Of Being In A Relationship When You Hate Anything Cheesy Or Romantic

Posted: 01 Sep 2015 03:52 PM PDT

You're The Worst
You’re The Worst

It's not that you don't love spending time with your person. There's just something about having that fact congratulated via bouquets of roses that makes your inner Grinch want to throw those roses right across the room. To celebrate the new season of FXX's You're The Worst, commiserate over these 10 tedious, inevitable struggles of being in a so-called 'romantic relationship':

1. Fending off people's fawning questions about you two.

Every time someone asks how you're doing (wink wink), and if there are any wedding bells in your future, you would greatly prefer to hit them over the head with these much-anticipated bells and get the f away from that conversation.

2. Attending weddings together.

There's really nothing more mind-numbing that attending someone else's celebration of love and happiness with your partner. Everyone expects you to look like some sappy couple because love is in the air and you have to sit there and gag on this poison gas for hours. And if they start reciting Corinthians? More like Love is patient, love is kind, love can kiss my ass. Preferably french it.

3. Deciding on social media statuses.

Are we "Facebook Official?" Who gives a sh*t. You honestly only tolerate four of your 'Friends' and the rest you keep around to hate-stalk when you're hungover. You'd rather ignore the status altogether and avoid the maddening OMG I'M SO HAPPY 4 UUUU!!! comments that everyone insists on posting.

4. Celebrating 'romantic' holidays.

Valentine's Day. New Year's Eve. WE GET IT. Some people like to have mandatory romance scheduled on the calendar with their teeth cleanings. Just let the rest of us live in peace. They wouldn't like it if you made a national holiday for your foot fetish, so they should keep their flowers-and-chocolate cheesiness to themselves.

5. Celebrating anniversaries.

Congrats! You tolerated each other for an extended period of time! Gold stars all around. You would much prefer to ignore the day and just hang on the couch with a fancier bottle of wine than usual.

6. Going on double dates.

What's more insufferable than hanging out with your friend and her boyfriend? Having to go out and do "Couples Activities" with them. Hard pass.

7. Cuddling.

You really do enjoy their company. Really. But cuddling is just a terrible purgatory between sex and sleep. Either have some real fun or go to sleep. You're not thirteen anymore, you don't spend your days looking forward to some chaste embrace.

8. Public displays of affection.

Is it really necessary to run around holding sweaty hands and sneaking kisses along the street? You're secure enough in your relationship that you don't need to run around calling dibs on one another and acting like you just leapt out of a sappy movie.

9. Getting unsolicited relationship advice.

Just because you don't ooze enough cheese to be mistaken for a mozzarella stick, doesn't mean you aren't in a successful relationship. So all those people who think they're helping by telling you ways to spice up the bedroom can go find someone else to annoy. That newly married couple that recited Corinthians might need it.

10. Posting photos to social media.

You're not posting this photo of you and your partner to brag to everyone that This person changed my life. Big effing deal. You're going to make this picture your profile, hide the update from your timeline, and people are going to deal. with. it. TC mark

This post is brought to you by You’re The Worst. Don’t miss the new season premiere September 9th at 10:30PM – only on FXX.

5 Of Our Favorite Thought Catalog College Instagrams

Posted: 01 Sep 2015 11:19 AM PDT

Today, the Thought Catalog homepage is dedicated to college. Last week, we asked you to show off your school spirit by Tweeting or Instagramming your favorite “college” photos.

For any future submissions, include the hashtag #thoughtcatalog.

1. The reminiscing graduate.

Instagram Photo

2. The collegiate couple traveling the world.

Instagram Photo

3. The freshmen roommates who became best friends for life.

Instagram Photo

4. The student ready to tackle her bucket list.

Instagram Photo

5. The student who graduated with great friends, stories, and life lessons.

Instagram Photo

TC mark

This John Green Video Will Get You Massively Excited To Start School Again (Even If You’re Dreading It Right Now)

Posted: 01 Sep 2015 09:33 AM PDT

“But yes, your teachers may be stupid. So are you, so am I, so is everyone (except Neil DeGrasse Tyson). The whole pleasure in being a human is in being stupid but learning to be less stupid together.” TC mark

7 Things I Wish I Knew As A College Freshman

Posted: 31 Aug 2015 09:57 PM PDT

Amy Gee
Amy Gee

1. Skip School For The Right Reasons

Here's a news flash: Most of your college courses won't matter. This is a pretty bold point to be coming out of the gate with, but I wanted to make this clear.

Travel (cheaply). Sit in on a class you'd never take. Ask that person in your english class on a date. Most people never do what they tell themselves they'll do. Go do something incredibly stupid. Do things nobody would expect you'd do. The story is almost always worth it. What you'll learn in most college programs is 80% nonsense and 20% useful. Make sure you're conscious of which is which and free up your time for more important things. 'Important' is obviously subjective but that's besides the point.

Even if you're in the category where you think you'll be going to a grad school and need good grades — then learn how you can hack the system and still get good grades. Read The 4-Hour Workweek — work smart and hard (just less).

2. When You Have No (Real) Skills — Make Sure You Have Enthusiasm

Very few people are world class at what they do at 18, 19. You're probably not world class. And That's Okay. You probably shouldn't be at this point. Recently, a entrepreneurial mentor of mine whom I saw speak my freshman year said, "Mitch, I remember when I met you freshman year. You were overly enthusiastic and ask a lot of questions."

My response was: what else was I suppose to be? I was 18 years old. In the objective view of things, I new next to nothing about starting a company. I was there to fail, ask questions, and learn from everyone. I said yes to every opportunity I could get my hands on — and then tried to over-deliver on whatever was expected.

You're not in a position to hand select exactly what you get to work on just yet. You need to prove yourself. The world owes you nothing. If you're a freshman, remember this: Keep saying yes to things until you have choices. Then keep saying "no" unless it's the one thing you end up choosing to focus in on.

3. Be Honest And Straight-forward

Everyone and their grandmother with a blog in 2015 is going to tell you to "become emotionally intelligent." Newflash time: the vast majority of those articles are 100% BS.

Here's what you need to know (and what many of them mean to say):

• Be honest, straightforward, and clear. The most important "emotional intelligent" decision I've ever made was to opt-out of playing mind games. It takes two to tango — just don't respond to it.

• People find honesty refreshing. Perhaps I just enjoy ripping people a new one — but really I think people find honesty and bluntness refreshing. Imagine if you didn't have to constantly read between the lines. It makes everything more efficient. It's also the easiest way to gain respect — especially if you learn how to be honest with yourself (which is5000x harder than it sounds).

• Work on being (more) self aware. This is probably the single most important thing anyone can do to improve every aspects of their lives.

4. You'll Live and Die By Your Habits

The first part of this is: know yourself. Be self aware. Not everyone is going to be a 'morning person' — but know that most people who play at the top level are. Learn what works well for you and write down things that are holding you back.

The second part is: Small actions have massive consequences. If you need a visualization google 'the effects of compound interest." Not doing your laundry is not just not doing your laundry (I learned this the hard way). All bad habits are gateway drugs to other bad habits.

Remember this: you're going to take the path of least resistance throughout your day. Design your life so that you can automate the most important daily chores and the things you say you want to complete. If you want to learn Spanish then set up a system where you take 20 minutes to practice everyday. Every time you tell yourself you're just 'too busy' remember that 'too busy' is secret code for 'too unfocused'.

5. Stop Talking, Start Doing

Yup. That is all.

6. Repeat After Me: "My health is Important"

The freshman 15 is real and taking care of your health is one of the most common lessons people opt to learn the hard way. A lot of people. Most of those who put on the freshman 15 (in America, anyway) never actually learn that their health is important and become obese over time, get diabetes, and die from some sort of cardiovascular decease by 72.

Sorry to go deep there — but that's my point: it's not a joking matter. If you don't immediately take the lead on controlling your health (mentally and physically) then the chances that you take action to correct it is incredibly slim in the long run. The relationship between the number of days you put something off and the probability of you completing it is inversely proportional.

You are what you eat. You are what you do.

7. Build Your 'Personal Brand '— It's compounding

This is a tricky subject. But here's the gist:

Identify what you're curious about or find yourself reading for pleasure. Listen to the the leaders in that space and take notes. Listen (x3)

Once you develop a unique view start producing some content that will be a unique and valuable position. Provide value to those who are just getting started. By 'provide value', I mean do what you wish someone would have done for you at that point of the game. Don't be (too) self promotional. Make sure you have the right tools to collect the compounding effects.There are plenty of ways to create a personal site. Make one, you can always change it later. It'll be important to learn how to spin and craft your story over the long run. There are plenty of people who go through college as a sheep in the middle of the heard. Be self aware. TC mark

17 College Classes That Might Actually Help You Survive In The Real World (Unlike Calculus)

Posted: 31 Aug 2015 09:55 PM PDT

Leo Hidalgo
Leo Hidalgo

1. Sociology 171: How To Make Friends Sober

2. Communication Studies 10: How To Say No To Things You Actually Don't Want To Do

3. History 103: How To Recover From Accidentally Liking Someone's Instagram Picture From 2010

4. Biology 105: Am I Pregnant Or Just Stressed?

5. Cosmetology 101: How To Look Like You Weren't Just Crying In The Bathroom

6. Life After Your Meal Plan: How To Eat On A Budget

7. Poli Sci 50: Policies For When Your Psychotic Roommate Keeps Stealing Your Stuff

8. Chemistry 20: Convincing Your Hook Up That You Two Have A Stronger Connection Than Just "Netflix And Chill"

9. European History: How To Not Be Intolerably Annoying When You Come Back From Abroad

10. English 114: Analyzing And Interpreting Drunk Texts From Your Ex

11. Criminal Law: How To Stop Yourself From Watching 37 Hours Of Law And Order: SVU

12. Astronomy 29: Understanding That Your Zodiac Doesn't Actually Control Your Life

13. Theater 141: How To Feign Confidence In All Situations

14. Economics 102: Understanding That If You Stopped Buying Drunk Food After You Go Out You Could Actually Afford To Go Grocery Shopping

15. Intro to Psychology: Analyzing Different Meanings Behind The "K" Text

16. Business: How To Fake Being Ready For A Real Career In A Job Interview When In Reality You Spent The Last Four Years Of College Signing Up For 3pm Classes Because You Hate Waking Up Before Noon

17. Musicology 109: Finding Emergency Cool Playlists To Put On Your Phone In Case Someone Asks You To DJ At A Party Or When Driving In A Car Because The Last Time That Happened All You Had Downloaded Was The "Shrek" Soundtrack. TC mark

A Letter To The College I Said I’d Never Miss

Posted: 31 Aug 2015 09:45 PM PDT

Soe Lin
Soe Lin

When I was in high school, I said I would rather drop dead than attend classes on your campus. I was even more dramatic then than I am now and believed that I was too good for a small private University in a country foreign to me. Everyone there looked the same – they all dressed the same and acted the same, and all seemed to be interested in one of two things: Getting laid or getting their Mrs. Degree. I wasn't interested in either. But when I got declined from my two first-choice schools, I really had no other choice. So I chose to attend you like my family members had before me, and hoped that things would turn out okay.

Throughout my four years sleeping in your dorm rooms and owning my very first apartment with my best friend, you broke my heart over and over again. I broke the school record by crying in every single building on campus. I wrote essays in the library every night until closing and had at least one existential life crisis a week.

I threw up on your cement ground and kissed on your wooden benches. I snuck out late at night to speak to The Tower Ghost and tried to avoid passing my own ghosts in every building. But it was always hard to know where he or she would be. I lived right across and next door to people who broke my young, fragile heart, and couldn't make up my mind about what or who or where was right for me. I got lost a million times trying to find my way and lost a lot of people that I really believed in. Yet there were plenty of moments to make up for all of it.

It's funny how when we look back on our memories, we only remember the good things.

We forget to acknowledge that within those happy moments, there were bad ones too. We never miss those moments as much. But just because we don't miss them, doesn't mean we don't need their existence for the happy ones to stay alive. So when I look back on my four years on your campus, I don't remember crying myself to sleep five nights a week my junior year.

I remember laughing in my kitchen over pots of macaroni and cheese. I don't remember the time I almost jumped in front of a truck at 18; I remember the night my three best friends taught me how to love myself again. I don't remember the time I didn't get into that one stupid band; I remember performing on multiple stages with two of my favourite people in the world. And I don't remember the people who paralyzed me; I remember the people who proved to me that everyone has a genuine goodness inside of their heart.

As I watch my younger friends post photos and statuses about you for the upcoming year of school, I want you to know that I am happy with where I am at in my life. And I have you to thank. I guess what I'm saying is that I was wrong. People on your campus aren't all the same – every single person I met has a unique, brilliant and worthy story. Every person I met changed my life. I want you to know that I am grateful for everything you taught me about love and brokenness, about fear and loss. About friendship and learning, and all the amazing things you've taught me about life overall. I know I said I would never miss you, but I promise you that I already do. TC mark

5 Questions Anyone Taking Out A Student Loan Needs To Be Able To Answer

Posted: 31 Aug 2015 09:45 PM PDT

Brittani Lepley
Brittani Lepley

1. Is this your only option?

Everyone should exhaust all available resources before applying for a private loan. A private loan with a 15 year term will usually have an average interest rate of 7-9%, and that's if you have good credit or a cosigner. If you are a single undergrad you'll be lucky to get 11% if you're approved at all.

There are however alternatives, such as qualifying for federal grants or federal loans, which have a lower average interest rate, usually between 3-6%. Qualifying for grants is the best because that's money you don't have to pay back. You should always apply for FAFSA before private loans because who knows, the government may feel sorry for you and offer you a buck here or there.

And of course, there are scholarships. These are not always easy to find nor get, especially if you are an average student with average grades. Academic scholarships can pay big time, but above a 3.0 GPA is usually necessary. There are non-academic scholarships as well that can be a great option, such as transfer scholarships which pay by just moving schools. Looking into available scholarships is something every student should do before considering private loans.

A private loan should be a last resort, so apply for anything and everything first. Writing scholarship essays and filling out FAFSA after FAFSA form can be tedious and frustrating, but your future self will thank you someday if it means less debt.

2. Is there a more affordable university?

Maybe you've grown up your whole life dreaming about going to a specific university. You've then applied and got in. Your dream school. But then you realize how much your dream school costs. This is the time you must ask yourself, is it worth it?

My whole life I wanted to go to Princeton University. The prestige of an Ivy League school and of course, being able to brag to everyone I meet, "Oh, I went to Princeton, no big deal". What I never considered however, was if Princeton was right for me. I knew early on I wanted to be in advertising, specifically a copywriter. During my senior year of high school I did some research and found that Princeton did not have an advertising program. Luckily, I'm from Texas which has several great universities with award winning advertising programs, so I wouldn't consider my choice a down grade in the slightest. I also saved myself several thousands of dollars in debt by choosing a school based on its programs instead of its name.

Taking a step back and weighing the school against what you want to do is vital. Your money should go to a program that fits with your future ambitions. Going to a name-brand university may help with networking and give you bragging rights, but what's most important is prestige in your field, not the general public's opinion.

3. Have you thought about community college?

Community college may seem like a downgrade compared to big name 4- year universities, but what they lack in recognition they make up for in price. Local community colleges vary in cost depending on location and number of hours taken, but they can be as low as $50.00 a credit hour. That means for one full semester of classes you may only pay $750.00. That is substantially lower than university prices, and the classes are virtually the same. And at community college, your class size will be smaller than it would at a 4-year university, meaning you won't just be another face in the crowd.

Professors who teach at community college often also teach at universities, which means you won't miss out on valuable networks. And because your classes are smaller and personal, you are more likely to get recommendation letters, mentorship, or simply help transferring from your professors.

It's also great way to transition from high school to college if you were never someone who did great in school. Their institutions are usually more flexible and relaxed with scheduling, and without the hefty price tag you won't lose much if you fail or drop a class. It's also a great way to get your GPA up before transferring. If you don't have the grades to get into the school you want, you can load up on community college classes which are sometimes easier or paced more slowly.

4. Will it pay off in the long run?

Another thing to consider is the impact of your degree on your future. Like I mentioned before, the name is not the only thing that can affect your future career. Who you meet in your time at university can impact your career big time. Alumni can help get your foot through the door, so going somewhere with a close alumni network can be a huge advantage.

You also need to consider the monetary impact your school will have. Your debt to income ratio needs to make sense. If you spend over $100k on a degree and only make $30k a year, then maybe you should find an alternative, otherwise be prepared to live like a broke college kid for a very long time. We can argue all day about money not being important or that it will one day hopefully pay off, but if you can't make your loan payments you may start to regret your choice. Creditors can follow you anywhere and always get their money. That may mean docking your paychecks or ruining your credit if you don't pay up on time.

5. Do you love your school?

This is an absolute must. There is nothing worse than spending a fortune to be somewhere you don't love. Your school should reflect your personality. If you prefer small class sizes and intimate campus settings then a big state university is probably not for you. If you hate living in big cities then maybe a small town college is where you should be. Don't go somewhere because your friends are going or just because it has a popular football team. Go somewhere you love and where you will enjoy being every day for the next four or more years.

Student loans can be both a nightmare and a lifesaver for students. Loans should never be taken lightly and researching to find an option that works for you is essential. At the end of the day, student debt is the best debt you can have. With it you will be able to pursue your dream job which is something everyone should strive for, but if you can limit your debt to a manageable amount then make it happen. Do your research, apply for scholarships, and make your loans mean something. And above all, good luck! TC mark