Wise Student, Foolish Student (Part 2)

Remember our good friends Veronica and Patrick? Let’s meet up with them again to see how their first year of school is going.

Veronica, the Wise Student

Veronica enrolled in the University of Northern Nebraska (don’t even try to look it up – it’s fictional.) She had lived in Omaha her entire life, and going to a state school decreased her tuition substantially. She also spent the summer doing research on grants, and applied for quite a few. Just before the beginning of summer, she was accepted for a “Future Healthcare Worker of America” grant that would fully cover all of her college tuition of the first two years. This was excellent news. On top of this, she could use the $7,000 she had saved in high school to help cover her living expenses while she was in school.

Lesson #2: Look for grants before you take out a student loan. You’d be surprised at how many grants are available for new and continuing students each year. You could save thousands of dollars.

Patrick, The Foolish Student

Sick of the cold, grey, snowy winters in Buffalo, New York, Patrick was excited to escape to Florida for his first year. He was so excited that he forgot to look into his housing situation until it was too late. The available dorms were full, so he had to rent an unfurnished apartment off-campus for $600 a month with a roommate. Since his parents were already paying for his first year of school, he didn’t look into loans or grants. He just figured it would all be handed to him on a nice, silver platter.

Mistake #2: Housing costs at school can eat up a huge amount of your income (if you have any at all.) Do your research on all available options, but don’t just settle for dorms by default. Sometimes those can be expensive too!

Veronica’s First Year

Veronica had a good time at the University of Northern Nebraska. She worked hard, but also made a lot of friends and enjoyed her time in school. While she did go to the occasional party and involve herself in campus activities, she never let this interfere with her work.

More important than her grades were opportunities to gain real-world experience. Veronica applied for several internships her second semester, and she ended up getting a part-time position as a cold-compress girl. She was responsible for maintaining and delivering the cold-compress ice packs for injured athletes at a small physical therapy rehab center every Tuesday and Thursday night. She was even paid for her efforts. This offset the rest of her living expenses and she made it through her first year with $4000 still in the bank and not a dime spent on school.

And she already had learned a lot in her classes, which she found engaging.

Lesson #3: Internships are gold during your college years. If you can get one during your first year, that’s even better. It will put you in immediate contact with the real world and give you some experience, whether or not the internship is paid.

Patrick’s First Year

Patrick decked out his new apartment complex as much as he could. He wanted to have THE happening place in south Florida, where all the great parties would be. His prophecy came true, as he threw weekly kegger parties and his place was popular with the undergrads, due to its location off-campus and proximity to the beach.

He took a random assortment of required courses his first year, focusing on classes that would be easy and could earn him an A without much effort. The only research he did before he signed up for classes was on so that he could see which profs were the easiest.

Because he had so many expenses, he needed to take out as many loans as he could to cover the cost of his apartment, the cost of his parties, and his other living expenses.

Patrick failed two courses his first semester and almost got kicked out of school.

Determined to “shape up” he started studying very hard his second semester, pulling all-nighters and cramming like a madman before his tests. He didn’t eat and he barely slept for months. Grades became everything to him. For his efforts, he got 3 B’s and an A- his second semester in a bunch of random courses. He still hadn’t declared a major.

Mistake #3: Work-life balance is essential in school. It’s ok to have some parties as long as you focus on the work you are doing. It’s also not a good idea to study and work so hard that you are exhausted. You should never have to pull an all-nighter.


Veronica and Patrick’s adventures continue! How will their college careers go? Will Patrick survive Wynn University? Check out Wise Student, Foolish Student (Part 3) for more, coming soon!


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