Greetings from the “real world”

On May 16, the shackles of blue book exams, bad campus food and eccentric professors fell off my exhausted shoulders, and I, along with many others, found myself thrust into the exciting yet unfamiliar world of post-graduation.

My alma-mater is the University of Wisconsin-Madison (yay Badgers!), and while the college experience is something I will never forget, it’s nice to finally move on.

Years before I scurried across the stage to receive my well-earned diploma, I heard horror stories of past students who crashed and burned in their attempts (or lack thereof) to assimilate into the real world. These stories ranged from a girl who still felt her parents should pay her $800 a-month rent to a guy who lived to regret taking out a $5,000 loan to pay for his coveted spring break trip to Miami.

Oh yes, many find the road to making it in the “real world” is littered with mistakes because they didn’t understand the changes the post-graduation world brings. After graduation, many students find the safety net replaced with the spikes of serious consequences. It’s a path that I am trying to navigate, but luckily, throughout the summer we can try to navigate it together.

That’s why I want to share my experiences with students in various stages of college life — whether they’re just starting school, in the middle of their studies, about to graduate, or wading their way through post-graduation life, like me. I know there are students who’ve made mistakes either because the information wasn’t there or because they didn’t know where to get the information.

If I can steer one student away from making a costly mistake then I’ve done my job.

Editor’s note: Please help us welcome Jessica, who will be blogging on The Student LoanDown throughout the summer.

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5 Responses to Greetings from the “real world”

  1. Erik says:

    Hi Jessica,
    I’m an almost sophomore and will be doing student loans for the first time. Did the FAFSA, got my award letter from my college and I’m eligible for a Federal Direct Unsub loan of not nearly enough. Is the ideal order I borrow in is to start with the Fed Direct Unsub loan, then maybe a SELF loan (not sure about what those are), and then something like a Wells Fargo Collegiate loan for any additional?


    • Jessica says:

      Hello Erik,

      If you need to borrow (after scholarships, grants, and work-study) federal loans are the place to start. So you’re on the right track. Are you in Minnesota? SELF loans are offered through that state’s government.

      Check out more here: Your best bet would be to talk through your options with your financial aid office. They can help you understand what works for you after you’ve maxed out federal loans. A private student loan like those offered through Wells Fargo is an option to cover the rest of your costs. Remember to compare interest rates and lender benefits as you examine your options. And NEVER borrow more than you need. Trust me; you don’t want to graduate with too much debt. Good luck!

  2. Ayodeji Ijaola says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Great to see you off to a great start in the “Real World” and working with the same company I work for as well. I remember you from UW-Madison, but not sure if you remember me. People know me as Deejay if that helps any.

    As far as these student loans, I would agree, taking a bunch of loans for things that you should really save some cash for, could really put people in a bind. I don’t know much about the student loans in particular, so I won’t even try to help. But I would advice to get jobs on campus that can pay for your housing at least.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi Ayodeji,

      Yes, student loans are a great resource to help fund your education. However, students need to remember that they are loans, not grants and you must pay them back. With that said, student loans can be great resource for students who need help.

      Thank you for your comment!

The Student LoanDown

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