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How to Prepare for Graduate School So You Don't Get Out of Hand With Student Loans - Part 2 of 4

The second point has to do with income and preparing yourself to manage your living expenses for two to seven years while studying. You will likely expect that your parents will provide for your expenses, and if you are fortunate enough to have parents with enough financial resources, that is fantastic. However, if you are like the majority of folks who enter college or graduate school with "normal" family debt, you won't have this support. How to improve your income then?

A second thing to do is take a year off before you attend a university. A year off is beneficial for more than just financial reasons, if done right. If you just graduated high school, you will get another year to mature, if you are active in self-improvement, and formulate your ideas on your long-term goals. Some folks will decide to "party" and this is a huge waste of money and time and do nothing for your overall goals. Instead, save your money. In college, you will definitely think back and tell yourself "why did I buy that extra grill for my truck when I could have used that money to go to that concert."

During this year off school, if you have already earned a certificate or Associate's, then work in the field you had earned your Associate's or certificate, even if it is an internship and unpaid. If you're working, then save. If unpaid, understand that this work experience will help you get a job while in college, and that extra, say $1.50 an hour, will help you, in the long run, to pay your way through college without falling into too much or any debt. I had the fortune of finding work while at university, on campus, as a manager of the campus gym. This job was perfect for me since my high school experiences involved many hours training and reading on the subject. It allowed for experience in management and with time to study AND exercising while working, but this did not happen until my sophomore year. The first year, I worked in the cafeteria cleaning dishes until the opportunity presented itself. Nevertheless, it reduced my overall debt load at an expensive university.

Things are different now for many. Cost of living is higher, and good universities tend to be located in expensive geographic areas. Consult with your school counselor in high school, or with your college's career planner to examine your options. But the idea is the same: earn as much money as you can before and during your studies so you don't have to suffer later.

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