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Ignore This College Advice From Your Parents

Your parents mean well. Really. They are proud you’re in college and want you to succeed. However, there’s a good chance that they are also afraid to hand you over to the adult world for the first time, and their fears will often inspire them to turn into sudden experts on your college experience. Pay attention to the seemingly endless stream of advice that comes next, but also bear in mind that you may simply be learning a valuable lesson in Reality 101: Your parents are human, and they are often wrong. When it comes to college preparation, it seems like many parents are quoting misinformation from the same well-intended but unrealistic guidebook. This is especially true of parents whose children have performed well academically but have not had to take on many adult responsibilities thus far. If this description applies to you, then here is your ultimate study guide to which advice to ignore. Review it carefully because the test is happening now.

1. Do not get a job. Just focus on your grades.


Why Parents Say It:

If your parents say this, then either they have agreed to take care of your finances, or you have hit the jackpot in financial aid and scholarships. Your parents are impressed by your academic achievements, and they think that continuing to do well academically is your key to obtaining a job in your field after graduation.

Why to Ignore Them:

In reality, the key to a good job after graduation is work experience coupled with some knowledge of your field. Current students who are expected to have little experience can get their feet in the door at targeted businesses that will be nearly impossible to penetrate when all they have is a 4.0 and a transcript.

Even if all you have is a gig at the local coffee shop, this can also be a prime place to network as well as the source of financial security when you graduate and are searching for opportunities within your major. If your parents have advised you not to work, you probably have additional funds available to provide for your living expenses, which means that a job will give you an opportunity to start saving for those post-college years. Meanwhile, people who take their parents’ advice to avoid work find themselves suddenly broke and with few prospects.

2. Do not sign up for any glamorous student credit card offers.


Why Parents Say It:

Your parents know that lenders target students with incentives for free food and services in exchange for completing credit card applications. They also know how easy it is to accumulate credit-based debt, along with high interest rates and late fees.

Why You Should Ignore Them:

Having a credit history is essential, especially in the United States, and student credit cards are a great way to build credit history. Take this opportunity to thoroughly understand the terms of your card and to practice responsible spending. This is a lesson you will need to learn at some point anyway. It’s better to do it during college when you are most likely responsible for only yourself than to do it later in life when you have a family and are potentially still toting around your perfect transcript but sparse resume searching for a job.

3. Make a plan and stick to it.


Why Parents Say It:

Your parents think they are teaching responsibility. They recognize that honoring your commitments will bring you personal satisfaction and will increase other people’s level of respect for you. They also think that creating a plan with definite goals will help you make it through college without becoming discouraged or overwhelmed and leaving the system.

Why You Should Ignore Them:

All the assumptions behind this advice would be true if you had enough life experience to make a plan worth following. However, you don’t. In fact, the college years are the prime time for gaining this experience, and this is done through the open-minded exploration of different ideas, not through narrow minded dedication. Resist pressure to choose a major course of study until you have fulfilled your core requirements and figured out what you really want to do. Dedication to a plan may lead to an immediate sense of accomplishment, but you will be disillusioned and potentially depressed when you realize how much you’ve limited the possibilities for your adult life. Creating your plan as you progress through college will lead to authentic empowerment and, ultimately, peace.

Today’s guest article is provided by Stacy Rost. She is a freelance writer and wrote this article on behalf of the Partners in Education and Tuition Assistance Programs, where you can find information about a broad range of academic options, including the PETAP online accounting schools and programs.

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