Learn from mistakes at 20 for payoff at 30
It is widely accepted that a strong education is a cornerstone of a person’s personal success. What is even more important than where one goes to college or one’s major is how that person utilizes the tools of his or her education. Mark Twain once said something to the effect of: “Never let formal education get in the way of your learning.” Of course, Twain is in no way debunking the importance of schooling, but he is advocating for every student to take an active role in their own personal education. This “personal education” is the most important responsibility I can have for myself while at college.
I have been taught from an early age that academics and classes are always my first priority. While this is absolutely true in high school, as the vast majority of teenagers do not have to worry about house notes or car payments, college is a time for earning a degree but also being mindful of the future. For, “adult” responsibilities such as paying for one’s own gas, rent, and food per month are not far away. So my charge to myself in college is to be aware—familiar with both short-term and long-term financial concerns. As a college student, I want to know how much my tuition costs per month or if I have subsidized or unsubsidized student loans. I want to cash my own work-study paychecks, balance a budget, and feel the pain of over-drafting my bank account. Making mistakes and learning from them at 20 will save me time and money when I am 30. Even from the few financial independence meetings I have attended at school, I have taken away from them the importance of starting early— saving, avoiding debt, and setting goals for investing in stocks, bonds, and 401k’s.
Parrish Preston, 2013 Graduate of Montgomery Bell Academy