Meet our Winter 2018 Finalist Achiever : Sydney Harmon!

By Michelle Flores / Posted: Jan 28, 2019 / 0 Comments / Posted in Student's Corner

Sydney Harmon Winter SDL Achiever Finalist

Name: Sydney Harmon

School: Western Michigan University

Major: Behavioral Science

Program: Sociology and Hearing Processes

Graduation Year: 2020

Congratulations to Sydney Harmon, our second SDL365 Achievers Finalist in our Winter 2019 Scholarship Contest! Her approach on How to Overcome the Stress of Being a Student in Debt seemed original to us, and we are granting her the second prize amounting $50 to help her pay for college tuition. Congrats, Sydney! Don’t stress over things that are out of your control! 🙂

How to Overcome the Stress of Being a Student in Debt

My first thought when reading this essay topic was: “You can’t. It’s impossible.” That negative mindset is actually what keeps me stressed about my student debt. The best piece of advice I have ever heard is simply put: “Don’t stress over things that are out of your control.”

I have worked summers since I was 13 years old, and have worked a part-time job each semester of college. I’m doing everything I can to make money, so why waste energy stressing out about my student debt that is currently out of my control?

I am thankful for this essay topic, as it gives me a chance to reflect and correct my attitude and stresses toward being in debt.

My first bit of advice for overcoming the stress of being a student in debt is to BREATHE. Graduating with student debt is normal. In fact, according to the “Institute for College Access and Success,” as of 2012, 71% of all students graduating from a 4-year college had student loan debt. It’s inevitable for most, including myself, to graduate debt-free. Accept this fact and do what you can to lessen your debt.

You don’t need that 50-inch flat screen TV or that $150 hair straightener. What you do need is a job (as long as it doesn’t compromise your grades and study time). You will be pleasantly surprised to find that so many businesses are looking for part-time workers and love to help college students!

Want to be a waitress/waiter? Weekend workers are in demand. Check out your local coffee joints or other small businesses and inquire about if they need any help. I worked at a coffee shop my first year of college, my second year I worked part-time in a factory, and now as a junior, I babysit most weekends, and am also a dog walker through the app “Rover.” Rover is excellent in my case because my last semester of college was extremely hard and I didn’t quite have those 12-15 hours to commit to a part-time job that employers were asking for. This app allowed me to pick my hours, so I could work more some weeks than others.

Sticking to the theme of worrying about what you can control: stick to a budget for grocery shopping, and shop the sales! We all have heard of the glorified “Whole Foods,” or “Trader Joe’s” grocery stores, but I have to ask, have you heard of Aldi?”

They are in about half of the United States, and I would encourage anyone who is lucky enough to have one nearby, to shop there. If you don’t have one, fear not! I have another budget saving tip! I just recently started using the Ibotta app as of August, and it has already saved me $85 just for buying things I already buy!

You clip the coupons in the app, go shopping, then scan your receipt to get your cash and transfer it to your PayPal or Venmo account. You can also get cash back for online shopping at your favorite stores, such as Ulta!

My final tip to overcome the stress of your student debt is to realize that you are in college and these are supposed to be some of the best years of your life, so live them! In moderation of course. Don’t be too much of a penny pincher that you won’t go to grab (legal) drinks with a friend on a Friday night every once in a while. If you do go out, ask for specials, and try to stay away from specialty cocktails that bars charge an arm and a leg for.

Do your friends want to take a Spring break road trip? Go for it. Those are memories you won’t get back. I’m not saying go out every night of the week or plan an “Around the World in 80 Days” trip, but DO enjoy your glory days! This is the beginning of our adulthood and the first real taste of freedom. Life is to be lived. Memories are to be made. With all this in mind, remember that academics should be your number one priority.

That is what you’re paying all this money for. For me, keeping my grades high keeps my stress low. My good grades (4.0 G.P.A.) reassures me that this will all be worth it in the end. I will graduate, I will get my dream job, and I will pay off my student debt in time.

Works Cited

1 The Institute for College Access and Success, Mar. 2014, “QUICK FACTS ABOUT STUDENT DEBT”

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