The Not So Fun Recess

By Mark Baron
Staff Writer

The “recess” I’m referring to, of course, is the economic recession. If you haven’t heard of recession by now, you probably live in a cave. Whether you hear about it from your friends and family or from the evening news, it’s hard to ignore the threat that recession poses to college students. Consider this: when you graduate from college, you may have to find a job and possibly pay off many student loans. When a recession occurs, businesses close creating a larger unemployment pool, which then creates more competition for jobs. If you can’t get a job, you can’t pay off those student loans! Now that I’ve stated the problem, what can you do, during college, to prepare for the tough economic years that lay ahead? Fortunately, there’s a lot that you can do, but you may not like it.

First off, try to find a part-time job. According to a U.S. News survey, “Fourty-seven percent of U.S. college students are planning to work as freshmen.” Yes, it’s a big downer; you want time to for academics, service, sports, and parties! However, a part-time job may only take up a little more time and you can use the money to pay off your loans or pay for books instead of taking out extra loan money.
If you’re not able to handle a part-time job, then try to develop money saving habits. This takes discipline and common sense. Let’s look at the obvious: if you don’t need it, don’t buy it! I know it’s hard to give up those needless things; mine is Clausen Dill Pickles and I had to give them up this week. Nonetheless, some of us just can’t live without our needless things…like tanning!

Why do people feel the need to fry themselves with cancer causing heat lamps? Who knows? My girl friend, for example, has to go to a tanning booth, which can cost a ton of cash. I always tell her to use sunless tanner because it’s cheaper and safer. Of course… she doesn’t listen. The moral: if you really need it, find a cheaper way to get it.

Indeed, there are numerous ways for college students to save money. Try to buy used items! Nobody likes hand-me-down stuff, but deal with it. For instance, used school books can be found cheap online at sites like half.com. And if you’re really outgoing, every college has a warehouse filled with free books!!! It’s called the library and it saved me about $100.

Here’s another toughy, try to limit going out for fun. I said limit! Don’t be a loser. Be creative! It only takes a little imagination to have fun at home. Have a dinner party or a movie night; imagination has no limits. How about going to more on- campus activities? We already have to pay an activities fee, so why not get what you paid for?

If you’re not saving, then try not to put yourself into debt. Try to avoid non-academic debt at all costs. Using a credit card is good to develop credit, but stay disciplined when you use it. Only charge smaller items to a credit card so you can quickly pay it off. If you’re new to credit cards try to find a credit card that has money saving benefits like discounts.

Finally, if you’re not sure about making an important financial decision, talk to someone with experience like your parents or financial aid advisors. Sr. Jane Snyder, in M.U.’s financial aid office, was an incredible help to me.

The economy is never something we can accurately predict and when something like a recession occurs, the best thing to do is to make it work for you. It may not be what you want to hear, but hey, it’s your future.