Should I get a Job in College or take a College Loan?

I would definitely suggest getting a job. College is just not that hard, academically speaking. It is a long series of doldrums punctuated with periods of post-procrastination cram sessions. If you are reasonably intelligent, college is only going to push you so far. Activities you do outside of class during your college years are those that will shape you as a person. Even more so, the way you spend that time, regardless of what you are doing in college, will either set you up for a good next ten years or send you spirally back into your pajamas wrapped in a blanket burrito of sadness in your mama’s basement eating Cheetos with the smelly cat. The classes, honestly speaking, just point you in a direction of interest as well as give you a minimum foundation with which to build upon later in your private and professional studies. Truly speaking, it is everything else that happens during college, besides the classes, that matters.

That said, it makes no sense to take a loan when you are going to be spending most of college just hanging out in the dorms. On the best of nights, you might attend a fantastic party where you build relationships and memories and blah, blah, blah. On a normal night( like 95%), you will probably be playing Call of Duty, talking about how inspiring some pretentious and uninteresting indie recording artist is, or not studying. The safe bet is that you will be not studying. On the worst of nights, you’re back at the party making decisions you’ll regret and that will haunt the furthest corners of your consciousness forever and ever and ever. All that to say, yeah, it may have been fun for a little while, but you aren’t going to get anywhere from these activities, at least, not as far as if you had made better decisions.

The time you are wasting could be invaluable later on. Consider this. Towards the end of college, you’re going to be faced with a slew of counsellors telling you things that, all of a sudden, you translate to, “Hiring managers, right now, aren’t hiring because students today don’t have the skills they are looking for.” In that moment, you realize, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” I am just about to graduate college and I can’t get a job because my college has failed at its only purpose.

I know, right? #sad, #FML, #Firstworldproblems,  #First_world_problems_that_are_actual_problems

Don’t feel bad, there are hundreds of thousands feeling the burn from this last decade. What you can do to mitigate this feeling of agony mixed with the onset of a slow and painful doom, is to acquire those skills which matter to hiring managers. What are they? It depends on what you want to do. Video games don’t teach them. A job, any job, will teach some. One thing that many people will tell you is that it is far easier to get hired once you already have a job. Neat huh?

What that means is that a hiring manager looks at you with the stereotype that you are a failure because you don’t already have a job. You basically have to disprove his theory that there must be something wrong with you. He has this belief, mostly because he landed his first job back in the 90’s when the economy was bursting at the seams and thinks that everyone who isn’t as lucky as he was isn’t worth his used air. His name is Old Economy Steve. Look him up when you feel like being angry at the system. It won’t do much, but it will make you feel a bit better.

Old Economy Steve sucks for you, but it doesn’t really change anything. The fact of the matter is that no one owes you a job and there are, realistically, thousands of people more qualified than you looking for work. So Old Economy Steve matters. He is still the guy (read: jackass) who hires people. For him you need to prove:

1) You have useful skills he won’t have to pay to train someone for.
2) You are employable.

The single best way to do that is to already have a college job. There is little else to add to that statement.

The second major point is how ridiculously expensive college is. I know people have seen the numbers, let’s say you go to a school that charges a “moderate” amount. Are we talking about Harvard or Stanford here? No. I said “moderate”. You’re moderate school may still run you $80,000 over the next four years. Don’t cry about it. You’re the one who wants to go college, and even though managers say you won’t have the skills they are looking for when you graduate, none will hire you without a degree. I know, you’re screwed. Get over it.

What happens next? Let’s say you take the loan. The moment you graduate, you are expected to repay that loan, or at least start. The way that loans work, you are going to be paying that back amortized over the course of 10 years. There are other models where you start paying a little immediately, but let’s stick with the simple model. Let’s assuming an interest rate of 5%, which is good compared to many lending services. Here’s the fun part, immediately after you start working you are now obligated to pay it back, at $845 a month (actually after you graduate… they will charge you either way, whether you get a job or not. No one loves you. No one cares about your problems.) That’s right, on top of home expenses, living expenses, car, life, ext, day one of your actual adult life you get a bill close to 1 Grand. You will also get it another 119 more times. That, by the way, is before any taxes or fees your lending institution straps on. By the time it is all over, 10 years from now, that $80,000 is now $102,000 that you have paid out. That’s a freaking house in some parts of the country.

The other route looks like this. You work a lot. Not all the time, but a lot more than some of your friends. You’re smart, you take the loan anyway. You want to save money, but you don’t want to risk not finishing college. So you take the loan and you still get a job, but you pocket all your extra coin. You stay disciplined because life at the other end of college rightfully terrifies you and you keep saving your money throughout all of college. You spend the next four years going from one job to another, to another. Each time you are gaining valuable skills and some valuable friends. Note I didn’t say loveable friends, I said valuable friends. Eventually, you will find a job you like. You might stick with that company for a while. You might get in good with your boss. At the end of your time, you are faced with a choice, you could either stay at your job, perhaps take a promotion, since they know you already and you are now “qualified” (nothing magic happened. You just got a stinking piece of paper.) Maybe you decide you want more. Either way, you have shown an ability to work and stay employable with a good work history. Your employment adventures have also presented you with a strong base of connections (remember those “valuable” contacts?) From there you might go back to some other company. You might have an in with a friend you’ve met to get an interview, or you might decide to take everything you’ve done and try for a job of your dreams while still keeping your other job, just in case. Whatever way you choose, you have still saved up a lot of change. You’re going to use that to pay off your loan in as much as you possibly can at the beginning, before it starts accruing interest. Maybe you still have some left, but it is way easier to pay down $20K, $40K, or even $60K than $80,000. You’ll have work so paying down that loan will be much easier than that other guy who looks like this.

I’ll be honest, twenty years down the road, you’re going to run the risk of a mid-life crisis where you complain to your wife in your beautiful home about how you never lived or did anything fun, wild, or stupid. That said, you need to choose what you want your mid-life crisis to look like. Do you want it to be that middle aged dude, balding with a Corvette to relive the youth he never had, or that middle aged dude, balding with his hand over shaking over the phone and the suicide prevention hotline reliving Chris Farley’s “Van Down By the River” sketch. You’re probably sad now. Welcome to adulthood. Here’s a video to help.


Thanks for reading!

Everything I write is completely independent research. I am supported completely by fan and follower assistance. If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more like it, follow my Quora blog Jon’s Deep Thoughts. You can also show your support by visiting my support page here: Support Jon Davis creating Short Stories and Essays in Military, Science Fiction and Life. Once again, thanks for reading and supporting independent writers.

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