ELFI is monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and following guidance from state and federal agencies. If you have been impacted by the Coronavirus, our Customer Care Center is available to help you.
×
TAGS
Career
For College

Advice From A University of Tennessee Knoxville Graduate on Attending College

April 17, 2019

I have officially completed college. I have gone through four years at a University and taken all the courses needed to graduate. From major courses, general education courses, to classes like a social dance that add a few hours to my schedule. I am now officially a University of Tennessee college grad and ready to embark on the real world…. or am I? As adult life has QUICKLY approached, I find myself wondering where the last four years have gone. Would I have done anything differently? Is there anything I missed? There are a few things I would have liked to tell myself while going through college and here they are:

 

1- Going into college, it’s okay not to know what you are doing. MOST PEOPLE DON’T. Throughout my college career, I have found that most people do not know what they are doing after graduation. When I first came to the University of Tennessee I took a class that was all about finding a major that best suits you. The class had me take a personality test, express my interest, and meet with college advisors in order to find a major that could lead to a career. After this class, I didn’t actually know what I wanted to do but I had an idea of what my major could lead to. Finding out what you actually will be doing after receiving your undergraduate degree requires research. You should be doing job research, salary research, gaining some experience, and maybe even attend graduate school. College is a time to find yourself and what you see yourself doing in a career. A clear career path doesn’t always present itself right away.

 

2- Be responsible. Finding yourself does not mean to be irresponsible. Nights with friends are fun and create lasting memories, but take care of yourself. While at the University of Tennessee, there was pressure from people to go out instead of study or to be socializing. To get past my FOMO I reminded myself that I was at school to better myself, no one else. This meant homework came first, scheduling time with friends was necessary, and staying on top of my health was part of my everyday routine. Do your homework, study, eat, clean, exercise, SAVE YOUR MONEY, and always remember why you are ultimately in college. Set goals and prioritize responsibilities so you can stay on task.

 

3 – GAIN EXPERIENCE. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting experience in your field of choice. If you don’t know what you want to do, explore several careers and internships. The University of Tennessee encouraged students to get out of school experience by offering study abroad trips, internship fairs, and volunteer opportunities. While at the University of Tennessee I had three separate internships exploring my career options. Now when applying for jobs I find EVERY job will ask for your work experience. Having an internship, volunteer work, or shadowing under your belt can be a helpful edge. Getting experience is such an important aspect for your future and is something everyone should consider.

 

4 – Get Involved. College is hard and freshman year can be lonely. Start looking at groups and clubs early. Finding a sports club, sorority/fraternity or church group to get involved in will help you to make new friends. The University of Tennessee offers hundreds of clubs and activities to get involved in. While being in school I joined a sorority where I found friends that wanted to get involved in different clubs with me. I joined my major club which helped me meet people who had the same interest as me and was a great networking experience. I also got involved in a religious club at the University of Tennessee which allowed me to share my personal preferences with others. The University of Tennessee offers many sports clubs for anyone that wants to get involved in an athletic team and has groups that participate in volunteer work such as United Way® and Best Buddies®.  Accept that you may be lonely at times without your family always being around. Recognize that you don’t need to be afraid to make new friends and get out of your comfort zone.

 

5 – Prepare for what is waiting for you after graduation, STUDENT LOANS. They may seem far away for now, but soon after graduation loan payments begin. Take into consideration how expensive your loans are. As a college student I never really paid attention to that. Now that I am out of school and saw I was $30,000 in debt, I was shocked. Know how much the interest rates on the loans are. Interest rates can cause you to end up paying an extra 3000+ in just interest on your loans. This is definitely something to consider when going into college and choosing a career path.

 

6 – Stay calm. A four-year university accumulates into A LOT of homework. Before you know you have 5 assignments, 2 papers, and 3 exams in the span of two weeks. This can be overwhelming when looking over your planner. You may find yourself questioning how you’re going to get everything done and when you will get to sleep next. Remember to stay calm. You are capable of getting everything done and most importantly sleeping. Plan ahead and stay on schedule. Throughout my four years, I kept a planner and wrote in every assignment, test, or even an event I had going on each week. This way, I was able to get started on homework early if I needed to and make time for relaxation. Getting homework done a few nights earlier then the due date helps when planning to study for exams. Study for a few hours every night a week prior to the exam, this helps to eliminate stressful cramming.

 

7 – At the end of the day, remember to have fun. This is for most people, a once in a lifetime experience. This will likely be your last time as a student before you join the workforce. Make time for friends, call your parents, and make incentives for yourself. Want to go to the football game this weekend? Finish your homework Thursday and have a fun-filled Saturday with friends. Whether it be hanging out with friends on a hike, going to a movie, or catching up over dinner, make time for you and the people around you.

 

My name is Jordon Brock and I am a SENIOR at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. College has flown by and soon I will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a minor in Business. I started my college career by going through sorority recruitment and while becoming a member of Delta Gamma started off as just a group of girls that I could hang out with in my spare time, it gave me more opportunities than I could ever imagine. Delta Gamma gave me the privilege to be the All Sing Director two years in a row where I got to lead our chapter in choreography and songs from popular musicals as well as allowing me to coach Smokey’s Howl; a cheer competition incorporated into Homecoming at UT. Outside of DG, I had the opportunity to be a marketing intern at three separate companies. My learning experience at UT, leadership roles in Delta Gamma, along with what I have learned in my internships has made me prepared, but more importantly excited for the future. I would like to work on a Public Relations or Marketing team at a company that strives to connect people with brands and organizations. I love communicating with others and hope to build relationships with clients and other organizations in my future career!

 

Check Out These Scholarships to Save Money on Student Loans for College

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

college student refinancing student loans
2020-05-26
Can You Refinance Student Loans While in School?

If you have student loans you probably have wondered what’s the best way to handle them. Should you wait to pay them after graduation or start paying them while in school? Or maybe you have heard about student loan refinancing and are wondering if it is right for you. Read on to find out one way you can manage your student loans that will benefit you right now.  

What is Student Loan Refinancing?

When you refinance student loans you take out a new loan to pay off one or multiple federal or private student loans. You will have a new loan term and presumably a lower interest rate. You can refinance to a new loan with the same amount of years left as your old loan or stretch out the term to allow a longer time for repayment. If you increase the amount of time to repay this will lower your monthly payment but likely will cause you to pay more interest over the loan term.   

Can You Refinance Student Loans While in School?  

The short answer is yes, but it may be difficult to find a lender that you can refinance with if you are still in college. Many lenders require a Bachelor’s degree as an eligibility requirement for refinancing. The other
requirements to refinance* with ELFI include: 
  • You must have a credit score of at least 680 and a minimum yearly income of $35,000. 
  • Must have a minimum credit history of 36 months.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, the age of majority. 
  If you cannot currently meet these requirements, you can have a cosigner that fits these requirements.     If you have federal student loans some may argue you should wait to refinance them until you graduate because they offer more flexibility with deferment and forbearance. However, some private lenders also offer deferment and forbearance options. Some other things to consider are:
  • If you think you will get a job in the public sector that would qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you may not want to refinance because you would lose the benefit of having your federal student loans forgiven under the program. 
  • If you think you will want to take advantage of an income-driven repayment plan when you graduate, you may not want to refinance because this is only offered for federal student loans. Tip: Be aware that when you take advantage of income-driven repayment plans, your monthly payment is lower, but you will end up paying more for the loan in interest costs.   
  There are many benefits to refinancing while in school to put you on a better financial path when you graduate. The average college graduate has $31,172 in student loans. However, you can work to reduce that amount by refinancing. Student loan refinancing can be beneficial for many reasons: 
  • Consolidate - Refinancing allows you to consolidate multiple federal and private student loans into one new loan. You can refinance some or all of your loans. Consolidation makes it easier to manage one loan as opposed to multiple loans. With only one loan you will be less likely to miss a due date, and avoid any associated late fees. 
  • Lowers Interest Rate - When you refinance you can potentially qualify for a lower interest rate. A lower interest rate saves you in interest costs over the life of the loan. 
    • If you have unsubsidized federal student loans (the ones where interest accrues while you are in school) your loans could be growing by an average of 4.53%. But if you refinance you may qualify for a lower rate, as low as 3.86%, and less interest would be accruing. 
  • Lower Monthly Payment - If you score a lower interest rate when you refinance you will be paying a lower monthly payment. To find out how much you could potentially save, use our Student Loan Refinance Calculator.*  
  • New Lender - Do you always have trouble with customer service when you want to ask a question about your loan? When you refinance, you can get a new lender if you choose. It’s great to find a lender with high customer reviews. At ELFI we pride ourselves on providing award-winning customer service. 
  • Fixed Interest Rate - if you have a loan with a variable interest rate it may be more advantageous to refinance and lock in a fixed interest rate. With a variable interest rate your payment can increase when interest rates increase, which could put a financial strain on your budget. 
  Important tip: if you refinance while in school and after graduation your credit score and income increase, you can always try refinancing your loan again to possibly get an even lower rate.*   

Conclusion

Researching how to handle your student loans while still in school is a great initiative to set yourself up for a strong financial future after graduation. Student loans may seem like a heavy burden, but utilizing resources available to you will make the monthly payments easier on your budget.  
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.   Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
Former UT athletes obtain graduate degrees through the SouthEast Bank RAC Program.
2020-05-08
ELFI Parent Company Helps Former Student-Athletes Obtain Degrees

Empowering others to reach their full academic potential is an integral part of Education Loan Finance's mission, and this extends to its parent company, SouthEast Bank.   This was shown in a recent UTSports.com article highlighting how several former standout University of Tennessee athletes are set to complete their undergraduate degrees after putting their education on hold to pursue professional sports careers – these athletes, including former NFL wide receiver Peerless Price, were able to obtain their degrees with the help of the SouthEast Bank Renewing Academic Commitment (RAC) program, which helps former University of Tennessee student-athletes return to the university to complete their undergraduate studies.    As a company, we are proud to empower these individuals in achieving their academic goals and we congratulate them for their achievements both on the playing field and in the classroom.   Read the SouthEast Bank blog for more details on how this program has helped former University of Tennessee student-athletes achieve their academic goals.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
Man teaching on zoom. Teaching is an example of a recession-proof job.
2020-05-07
Do Recession-Proof Jobs Exist?

It’s probably safe to say that you have heard the economy is in a recession or headed towards one due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Hearing about a recession may cause you concern about your job security, but you’re not alone. In these uncertain times, it can feel like no job is truly safe. But, in fact, recession-proof jobs do exist. If you are in college and exploring career paths or if you’re looking to change jobs, keep reading to find out about careers that may lessen your worries during a recession. And if you find yourself currently in a position that may be affected by a recession, there are some actions you can take to make your job a little more recession-proof.     

What Is a Recession?

A recession is defined by the
National Bureau of Economic Research as a significant decline in economic activity lasting more than a few months. The decline in economic activity is seen in things such as income, employment statistics, and retail sales. Unemployment can increase during a recession because companies are earning less money due to less demand and are unable to pay employees. However, there are some jobs that are considered recession-proof, meaning you are less likely to lose certain jobs during a recession.      

Recession-Proof Jobs

If you are trying to decide what career path is right for you and want to find one that is more likely to survive a recession, take a closer look at jobs such as these below. Here are some of the best jobs during a recession:
  • Healthcare Industry - Most jobs in the healthcare industry are safe during a recession because people will always need medical attention regardless of how the economy is faring. In addition, these jobs can be done in many different settings that allow for more opportunities, such as hospitals and doctor offices. The jobs most in demand are registered nurses, physical therapists, and pharmacists. The only healthcare jobs that may see some decline in a recession are those involved with elective procedures, since people may put those off until more prosperous times.  
  • Teachers and professors - Children will always need education and teachers will always be needed. Whether elementary, middle or high school, teacher positions will need to be filled. Becoming a professor is also a solid career path, although it will require an advanced degree. 
  • Law Enforcement - This can include officers, detectives, and crime scene technicians. These jobs are usually protected from layoffs because the need for public safety is not dependent on the economy. 
  • Public utility services - The jobs in this sector are in electric companies, trash services, recycling, and water services. These services are considered essential and will continue in a down economy.
  • Funeral director - A funeral director is involved in planning all aspects of a funeral. While it may sound morbid, death is inevitable and, therefore, this is an industry that will not suffer as much economic impact as others.  
  • Firefighters - Similar to law enforcement, firefighters are an essential part of maintaining public safety. Fire inspectors and fire investigators are similar to this job.
  • Judicial workers - In a recession, the court system will still be needed. Whether civil or criminal cases, jobs in the judicial system will continue. This can include judges, clerks, bailiffs, bail bond agencies, prosecutors and public defenders. 
 

Recession-Proof Your Current Job

Unfortunately, some sectors of employment are more susceptible to job losses during a recession, such as jobs in the construction field, travel industry, auto sales, and retail sector. If you are in a job that is not considered recession-proof here are some ways to increase your chance of not receiving a layoff notice.    One important thing we’d like to note: If you have been laid off, it’s extremely likely that it had nothing to do with your talent or likeability. Unfortunately, sometimes companies have to make difficult decisions to layoff people that they normally wouldn’t. These are just merely suggestions for ways you can rock at your job:
  • Learn new skills - Learning new programs and strategies in your field may help you move up the ranks in your company and show initiative to your bosses. This can translate to being a more valuable contributor to your employer, and thus, more likely to survive a layoff. 
  • Be a team player - A likable co-worker who helps contribute to projects would be an asset to the company rather than someone who just does the minimum required for their position. Become a team player by taking on more responsibilities even if they don’t fit within your position. 
  • Have a positive attitude - When managers have to decide who they have to lay-off they will be more likely to retain the employee who has a positive attitude about their job rather than an employee with a pessimistic outlook who makes the workplace a negative environment. 
  • Network - Build relationships with colleagues in your field. This will help if a layoff is inevitable at your company and you find yourself looking for a new job.
  If you are in a job you love but it’s not considered recession-proof, the best thing you can do is take control of your finances. Two things that will make the biggest impact are: creating an emergency fund and reducing your finances. Start saving for an emergency fund and aim to build at least 3-6 months of living expenses. If you are trying to reduce your expenses, one simple option that could save you hundreds of dollars a month is student loan refinancing. Check out the student loan refinancing calculator to see if this may be a good option for you.*   A recession is out of your control, however, preparing for it in advance can save you a lot of worries. Whether you choose a new career path, try to recession-proof your current job, or just bulk up your savings, all of these are great options for preparing yourself for a less stressful future.  
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.   Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.