Wise Student, Foolish Student (Part 3)

Veronica, the Wise Student Continues Her College Career

When we last checked in with Veronica, she was doing well in school, but making sure to balance her education with some real-world experience early on. She got a part-time internship working at a nearby physical therapist’s office.

Before long, the internship turned into a permanent job, which the management was more than happy to let Veronica split between her studies. She managed to work 20 hours a week at the physical therapist’s office, her responsibilities increasing as her courses soon caught up. Before long she was learning in her classes what she would eventually be expected to do on the job.

By her third year she had made numerous connections in the medical community and was always on the lookout for new opportunities. She never took too many classes at once, but stuck to a level of coursework that she could handle. The extra work helped her pay for her college expenses and courses, and she graduated in four years with only $3000 of college debt from her last semester.

Lesson #4: If you can work while you are in school, you should. If you can work in a field that is related to what you would like to do after you graduate, this is even better!

Patrick, The Foolish Student Continues His College Career

Patrick wasn’t required to declare a major until the end of his second semester at Wynn University. Because of this, he waited until the last possible moment before finally electing to study Philosophy. He figured that since people loved to come to him for ideas about the world, and because he enjoyed trying to figure out the “meaning behind it all” it would make a perfect major.

Ignoring some advice from a cousin who told him he’d never find a job, Patrick figured with a college degree life would be easy.

He continued to borrow more and more money for loans, taking the maximum amount out each year. He refused to work while in school, feeling that there just wasn’t enough time between his coursework and all the rigorous studies he was going to do.

Patrick toiled for two and a half years as a Philosophy major, finally graduating a bit late with $120,000 in student loan debt and still not sure what he wanted to do with his degree.

Mistake #4: Don’t pick a major that has gives a low chance of post-graduate success unless you can pay for your entire college education in cash. If you are interested in philosophy, that’s wonderful. There are much, much cheaper ways to study it. Until college becomes less expensive, it’s wise not to pick this kind of major.

Veronica Enters the Real World

Veronica ended up with a full-time position at the very physical therapy rehabilitation center she first interned for her first year. While she had a bit more schooling to do, the center agreed to cover her entire cost of tuition while she worked for them! She worked hard for two years, not owing a dime for her continued education, and eventually was able to get her doctorate in medicine.

Five years later, Veronica opened her own practice, and today she enjoys a six-figure income.

Case closed. But, what happened to Patrick? I know you are dying to find out!

Patrick Enters the Real World

Patrick ended up like many of us, sadly.

He graduated, frantically applied for a lot of different jobs (in much the same way that he applied for a lot of different schools five years before) after realizing with horror that there are no jobs for Philosophy majors with no work experience.

After having to move back home to Buffalo to live with his parents, since he could no longer afford his living expenses and his loans would be due soon, he finally found a job as a data-entry processor at a large accounting firm for $12 an hour. This job had nothing to do with anything Patrick studied in college. He was very depressed.

For three years Patrick bounced from data-entry job to barista job to store clerk job until he realized that his education had failed him. Where was this great full-time position with benefits he was sure would come after graduation? When could he home to move out of his parents’ home? When was he going to be happy again?


Education is important, whether you are self-educated or choose to go to college. But one of the most important ways you can educate yourself is to understand that the way the system is set up, you will need to be a bit creative financially. You will need to understand that college is very expensive and unless you follow a plan much more like Veronica’s than Patrick’s, you’ll end up a good deal worse off than you wanted to be.

And no, it isn’t fair. But educate yourself. Think before you just do what everyone else is doing. The real world is not easy!

I hope that I could help you out a bit with this guide. Sadly, there are far too many Patricks in my generation. I don’t want you to become another one.


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