Graduating Debt Free

I am graduating debt free with both, my Master’s and Bachelor’s. Many might think this is impossible, but with a little hard work and persistence, you can do it too.

Here are some tips for high school students:

– Overachieve in Academics, Athletics, or Music: In high school, I dibbled in sports and music. I was in band and ran cross-country and track. But I always knew that academics was my strongest area. So, nothing got in my way of getting all A’s and graduating with Honors. Choose your strength, and work hard to make sure you stand out.
– Take AP, IB, or Dual Credit classes: I was in the International Baccaularate Program, and I also took AP classes. Dual credit classes are great because you take community college classes during your junior or senior year. When I came in to college, I had 42 credit hours available to transfer. I only ended up using about 15 hours because the rest did not fit my major.
– Take the PSAT Seriously: If it’s one thing I regret, is not taking the PSAT more seriously. A couple of my friends received full rides to school because they were National Merit Scholars. If you have kids, make your kids study for this, it will be worth it in the future.
– Apply to 3- 6 universities: It’s very important to apply to a select list of universities. I applied to 8 to 10, and lost focus. If I were to go back, I would only apply to about 6 universities. It would make it easier to focus on school scholarships, dorm applications, financial aid, etc.
– Apply to scholarships: I applied to so many scholarships. In the end, the way a paid for school was through one big scholarship, one semi big scholarship, and many small scholarships. I essentially got paid to go to school.
– Make a logical choice: Many students choose their school based on a lot of “emotional factors.” It’s their parents alma maters or the school has a great football team, etc. While this might sound awesome at first, it will not when you have to start paying off student loans. Treat your decision as a financial decision. What should matter is the school reputation in your degree and the amount you will have to pay for it in the end. I decided to go to my school because I received the largest offer from them. All the other schools only came close to matching 50% of my school’s offer. I accepted my school’s offer because it was the best. I ended up loving my school and have had a phenomenal experience!

Tips for when you are in college

– Keep Overachieving: Just because you made it to college, doesn’t mean you can start slacking off. Keep up your grades, get to know your professors, and take challenging classes. Keep working hard.
– Apply to more scholarships: I applied to more scholarships after my freshman year, and actually ended receiving more money. High grades and extra curricular activities helped me stand out from the crowd.

Result: I finished my Bachelor’s in 3 years, Magna Cum Laude, and Major Honors. I am about to finish my Master’s with Distinction. Did I mention I am working on a dual master’s? So, I finish the first one this May, and I should finish the second one next May. So, even after two degrees, I am still applying to scholarships. I am actually about to sign off to complete a scholarship application due tomorrow. Hope this helps! If you need any more advice, leave a comment or email me. Even if you are reading this 1 year from now, I will still reply :)

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