Meet our Summer 2019 Finalist SDL365 Achiever: KeyShawn Phillips!

By Janie O'Brien / Posted: Jul 16, 2019 / 0 Comments / Posted in Student's Corner

KeyShawn Phillips - Summer 2019 Finalist SDL365 Achiever

Finalist’s Profile

Name: KeyShawn Phillips

Institution: Georgia State University

Major: Mathematics

Program: Actuarial Science


Congratulations to KeyShawn, one of our finalists in the Summer 2019 SDL365 Achievers Scholarship! His motivational essay about how important education is and how to make money to cover tuition costs without owing any debt impressed us. We are happy to offer him a $100 Second Prize in our contest. Congrats, KeyShawn!

What’s Better: Debt-Free Living or Getting a Degree?

College is an unforgettable experience, but it is also a very expensive one. The price associated with college can deter some from going. They feel as though living debt-free is a better option, which is understandable, but nowadays, getting a degree is vital. Most careers that people often want to venture into requiring some sort of degree from college.

Some people bring up examples of how Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both dropped out of college and became successful, but they are extremities. Having a degree expands your margin of error and opens up different opportunities.

There are also scholarships and grants that allow you to go to college and earn a degree while also minimizing the debt you owe. You can also work while in college to pay off your tuition instead of taking out loans.

Obtaining a job immediately after graduating high school is a formidable option, but in most cases, you have to start at the bottom of an organization and work your way to the top.

As you’re getting higher and higher in the company’s structure, however, you may begin to get overshadowed by people coming in with degrees that have the education perform the tasks necessary to the job.

This could stunt your growth within the company and your financial growth as well. Yeah, you don’t have to pay back debt, but getting a higher paying job makes paying that debt off easier.

There’s no stress in taking out a loan if the outcome is larger than the debt that you would owe. If you take a $60,000 loan to get your doctorate degree to become a surgeon, then you could easily pay that loan off once you venture into your career.

However, if you take out that same $60,000 loan to become a journalist it might not be the smart choice due to the fluctuation of that job field.

Working while taking college classes is also a viable option. I personally have three jobs currently as a freshman in college. One as a tour guide for my university, as a suite runner at the Mercedes Benz Stadium, and as a sales associate at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

With those three jobs, I am still a full-time student in college, and I was able to maintain a 4.0 GPA my freshman year. It all comes down to time management and dedication. I’m now able my own apartment in Downtown Atlanta and not have to worry about student loans or debt.

Having a job isn’t the only option either. There are plenty of things you can do to make money in college. You can sell candy and food, entertain, tutor, help people workout, etc. Just continuously look for ways to make money and it won’t be hard to succeed without owing any debt.

While obtaining your degree, there is also a lot of free money to be made. In Georgia, the Hope Scholarship covers 90% of your tuition at public institutions and the Zell Miller Scholarship covers 100%. The requirements aren’t difficult either.

To get Hope you need a 3.0 or higher high school GPA and for Zell, you need a 3.7 GPA or higher and a 1200 or higher on the SAT. If you meet these requirements, you automatically get your tuition covered. There are also thousands of other scholarships to apply for as well and the requirements range across a plethora of spectrums.

There are scholarships for people that are left-handed, tall, short, children of educators, first-generation college students, etc. If you can capitalize on the free money and come up with creative ideas to get the rest, then college should be free, and you could even get paid to obtain your education.

Take advantage of in-state tuition as well. The tuition at a public, in-state institution is significantly less than that of a private school or out-of-state university.

I’m not saying that college is for everyone. If you’re not going to put in the time and effort to succeed in college, you’re essentially just wasting time and money to do the same thing that you’d do if you got a job immediately after college.

But if you’re willing to put in the effort needed to do well, then use it as an opportunity to jumpstart your career and get properly compensated for the knowledge that you acquire.

I believe that getting a degree is more important than living debt-free, but who says that both can’t be an option.

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