Congratulations to Samantha Scheidler (Meet Samantha on Facebook and Instagram), the winner of our Winter SDL Achievers Scholarship 2019! Her positive Essay about How to Overcome the Stress of Being a Student in Debt has impressed our Committee and we are pleased to offer her a $500 Scholarship to help pay for college tuition. Congrats, Samantha! Have a stress-free student life!
“Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers” (Student Loan, 2018). In a time where most steady jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree and many now pushing for master’s degrees, it is difficult for young adults to find their way into the workforce without taking on massive student debt. Some students are fortunate enough to have parents who can afford to support them financially throughout college.
Other students like myself, have to consider if earning a degree will be worth the amount of student loans taken on in the end. Taking on student debt only becomes more stressful as years go by and the interest on loans builds. How can someone keep a smile on their face and continue to focus on their studies with the weight of student loans on their shoulders? Through my experience in college thus far, I have found that there are ways to mitigate this stress.
The best way I have found to lessen the stress of student loans is to work towards solutions to the problem. None of the solutions I will mention are going to eliminate your student loans, but I have found it is stress relieving to do what you can to lighten the burden. There are many money-saving practices that one can embed into their lifestyle: taking classes at a community college, commuting to school instead of living on campus, and using money-saving resources available to you.
With most students having to take general education classes anyways, it may be a better option to take them for a much more reasonable cost at a community college. Although community college can save LOADS of money, it may not be everyone’s first choice for various reasons. If you choose to go to a university, consider if you live close enough to commute. If you calculate the cost of gas to commute versus the cost of living on campus, commuting is likely to always come out as the much cheaper option.
A college student should also still take advantage of resources that can be helpful to them. For example, most college students will agree that the cost of textbooks can be overbearing. Use your common sense and do not buy brand new books! Using Amazon, Chegg, or an on-campus book store to search for used or rental books will be the most affordable way to go about purchasing textbooks.
Next, consider your spending habits. If you have a habit of overspending when shopping, make a budget for yourself. Budgeting apps such as Mint or Pocket Guard (O’Shea, 2018) can help you remain aware of your spending habits. To help with your budgeting, you can download coupon apps (many of which I use myself) such as Checkout 51 or RetailMeNot. Additionally, if a student has free time, they can be working a job or looking for small scholarships to apply for.
Even working just ten to fifteen hours a week (which is the number of hours I see with most students) can be beneficial by preventing you from pulling money from a savings account all year. Adding these practices into your lifestyle may seem like it will result in more work and therefore more stress. From experience, I have found that keeping busy and being proactive about my student loans has led me to a happier lifestyle. I know that if I’m doing my best, I can be content with myself.
Sometimes though, even when we do our best, we cannot seem to get the thought of student loans to leave our minds. When you have the time, it is important to practice self-care: go on a run or walk, go to bed early and get extra sleep, or involve yourself in other stress relieving activities. It is true that hard work pays off, but your mind can only take so much at a time. I have found that working out, getting enough sleep, and boosting my self-confidence by taking time to get ready in the morning, has helped me lead a healthier lifestyle both mentally and physically.
I have also found that time management plays a major role in my stress level. I use a planner to organize study and work time during the week so that I can have time to relax and/or socialize on the weekends. Taking breaks from school work on the weekends and surrounding myself with uplifting people is what helps me feel at peace amidst the stress that college can bring.
Stress during college can negatively affect your overall experience. Sometimes the best way to relieve stress is to work harder. Save money, work a job, and apply for scholarships to minimize the burden of student loans. Use time management to organize when it is time to work hard and when it is time to let your mind relax.
Surround yourself with a positive environment and positive people to uplift you during stressful times. Most importantly, before starting college, consider your financial situation, talk to a financial advisor, and decide what is the best route for you as a student.