Two Cents About Money Sense
Published: Sunday, September 16, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
College is unique in that for four years, students obtain the liberty to live life with a few single focuses. Our minds, for the greater part, revolve around schoolwork, friends, sports, and numerous activities. However, for those entering their senior year, the stress may just be beginning in regards to life post graduation. Although it may not seem possible, the real world is lingering close by for upperclassmen, and preparation is quickly becoming a necessity. While we may not be able to predict what our lives will be like 10 years from now, there are a number of things students can do in the moment to prepare themselves financially for life after Boston College.
Many would agree money is a large indicator of personal independence. Having enough income to support a person’s own needs is certainly crucial in any situation. In college, this may range from money for one’s own personal spending to money for supporting one’s living and eating funds. Naturally, this shifts dramatically after graduation as students take on numerous responsibilities and financial straits.
College arguably serves as a platform for learning about finances as students learn to become accountable for their own money and spending, whether it is in a large or small way. AJ Ferrera, A&S ’13, agrees that, "students should have some stream of income, as it allows students to learn how to properly spend." Learning to plan in advance and save money is also a skill many college students become familiar with due to the numerous expenses that arise over the four years.
For many students, learning how to spend is often done with the use of a credit card. By obtaining a credit card in college, students are able to build up credit. This prepares them for major purchases (such as a house or car) later on in life where good credit is required, while additionally giving students a level of responsibility. However, the shiny silver card does come with a degree of caution, as it is just as easy to destroy your credit as it is to build it. Many agree that using your card for the basics, such as food and personal items, is often the best case, as it is easy to manage. Instilling the thought of saving and maintaining a degree of discipline is often a noteworthy key to financial success.
Whether or not students should be putting aside money for after college is really up to the student. Ultimately the key thing to focus on is "making money on your own and in a way that you can gain some type of knowledge," said Donald Cox, chair of the economics department. "If anything this allows you to learn what
you don’t want to do. I’ve noticed that students who take jobs and gain experience in college are less likely to take time off after college to find themselves because they already know what they want to do."
Indeed, work experience is valuable in any circumstance. For many students this is done through the process of internships during college or immediately after, as well as on-campus and off-campus part time jobs. "Students should find a way to earn some money over the summer, whatever their capabilities might be," said Christopher Baum, an economics professor. Louis Gaglini, associate director for employer relations at the career center, additionally explained, "One of the most important things students can do now is establish themselves in the marketplace, whether it be through volunteer work, internships, or a basic job."
Baum also commented on the importance and benefits of work-study. "I certainly think that students should have an on-campus job, and it may be required of them as work-study in a financial aid package," she said. "When my son was a BC student, he gained some very valuable experience."
In general, though, graduating with a strong degree is ultimately one of the most important things for students entering a competitive economy. During a seminar presentation by professor Lisa Lynch last year, she discussed the importance of a college degree and how the unemployment rate today is much, much lower for those with a college degree, especially from an excellent, selective university like BC.
Does this mean students will immediately find themselves in an economic situation similar to the one they experienced on the Heights? "Perhaps not, but that’s part of growing up," said Baum. "They probably won’t have the same labor-leisure trade-off that they enjoyed as an undergraduate, if they have a serious and demanding job. But the value in the marketplace of a college education, regardless of major or course of study, is very sizable."
Baum also commented on the common debate of whether a certain school or area of study provides students with a more secure future. "I don’t see a meaningful difference between the job prospects of A&S economics majors in the top of their class and CSOM finance concentrators in the top of their class," she said. "Students in both cohorts have some excellent job prospects, but ultimately it depends upon them, and the impression they can make when they apply for a job."