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Tips for Making Friends in College

October 10, 2019

If you’re like many students, starting college means striking out on your own, forging your path through life, and developing the skills that are sure to result in financial success. At least that’s the dream, right? But what happens when going off to college means leaving behind the familiarity of your family and friends? Or living in a new city that you have no idea how to navigate? What about striving to make ends meet financially and finally understanding what it means to budget? What is Ramen anyway?

 

College isn’t always what we conjure up in our heads. While it is a time of self-growth and development, getting a foothold in your new chapter can be challenging.  Because of that, we’re sharing a few tips to help you embrace the unfamiliar and start making new friends in college. 

 

Get out of your comfort zone.

We can give you countless ideas, but they all start with this one piece of advice. If you want to make new friends, you’ll have to get a little uncomfortable. But when you think about it, that’s a massive part of what college is about, right? To create new experiences and meet people, you’ll have to leave the comfort of your dorm room and put yourself out there. We’ll talk about a few different ways to do this, but it’s essential to go into this process expecting to do more than just what’s familiar. This is about being “ok” with not having a grasp on this phase of life.

 

Make friends in your dorm.

At no other time in your life will you be living with this many people. Living in a dorm doesn’t just mean living with roommates or suitemates. It means there’s a whole building of people you can get to know. Most dorms are equipped with community rooms of some kind, so an easy way to branch out and get to know people would be by doing your homework in a community room instead of your own bedroom. Since many students live on campus and don’t need a car, you could offer to carpool to the market or even create “watch parties” of your favorite TV shows. Post opportunities for group outings on the bulletin board and keep the RA in the loop of any sight-seeing trips around the city. The more you engage with people, the more your relationships will grow over time. 

 

Bonus tip: a sure-fire way to make friends in college is to ask your mom to bake some treats and share them with people in your dorm — everybody loves cookies. 

 

Consider an open door policy.

Whenever it’s appropriate, don’t be afraid to leave your room door open. Besides being a signal that you welcome small talk, you never know when another student will hear what music you’re playing, show you’re watching or even overhear what you’re talking about with your roommates. Remember that the freshmen on your floor are looking for opportunities to connect, just like you are.

 

Looking for friends? Join the club. 

College campuses are full of extracurricular opportunities. From academic organizations and Greek life to hobby-based clubs and everything in between, there’s likely a way you can get plugged in with students who share a common interest. “Welcome Week” is a popular semester kick-off event where clubs set up booths and give out freebies like food and t-shirts. Do your homework and make a list of some you’d like to know more about. Pace yourself, and resist the urge to sign up for everything that remotely sounds interesting. When you first start college, it can be fun to get an idea of what each group is like, but overextending yourself can backfire

 

Joining a fraternity or sorority is a fail-proof way of making friends in college. Many fraternities and sororities focus on community involvement and leadership development, and there’s always an opportunity for an upperclassman to guide you through your college years. If Greek life is for you, take the time to understand the process of recruiting, rushing and pledging here.

 

Get an on-campus job.

Want a fool-proof way of making friends in college? Live and work in the same place. Whether it’s at the school bookstore or coffeeshop, you can literally get paid and get to know people at the same time. Visit your campus Career Services center and they’ll give you a list of all the jobs you can apply for. Better yet, they’ll be able to coach you on your interview skills and help make your resume irresistible to employers. If you’re not making regular appointments with the Career Services staff you’re missing out on a very valuable resource.

 

Break the ice with a classmate. 

It may seem hard, but you can do it. Get past the awkward and get to know a classmate. If just introducing yourself isn’t your speed, then ask a classmate if they understood the assignment or if the class is what they thought it’d be. People may shy away from talking about themselves initially, so forging a bond over the dislike of oxford commas  is a fine place to start. 

 

If you’re assigned a study group, be active and participate in discussion. Take opportunities to ask questions and pay attention to what your classmates are saying. 

 

Making friends in college might seem like a daunting task, but just be yourself, get out of your comfort zone, and it will start to come naturally for you. 

 

Learn more about navigating the college years

What I Would Have Told Myself in College – Barbara Thomas

Advice From A University of Tennessee Knoxville Graduate on Attending College

 

Note: Links to other websites are provided as a convenience only. A link does not imply SouthEast Bank’s sponsorship or approval of any other site. SouthEast Bank does not control the content of these sites.

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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.
Group of friends taking photos of food for social media
2020-05-12
Is Social Media Ruining Your Finances?

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and shelter-in-place restrictions, people are spending more time on social media than ever.    By Kat Tretina Kat Tretina is a writer based in Orlando, Florida. Her work has been featured in publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and more. She is focused on helping people pay down their debt and boost their income.   While social media can be a fun way to pass the time, it can have a negative impact on your finances. According to Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth Index Survey, more than a third of Americans said their spending habits were influenced by images and experiences shared on social media. Regularly using social media could cause you to overspend and put your financial goals at risk.    If your social media use is damaging your finances, here’s how to take back control.   

Signs your finances are getting derailed by social media 

Using Snapchat, Instagram, or TikTok isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s all about moderation. But there are some tell-tale signs that your social media use is hurting your bank account:   

1. Falling for FOMO

Seeing friends and old classmates’ vacation photos can give you a severe case of FOMO— fear of missing out. Those glamorous photos can cause you to want to book your own expensive trip.    However, you should know that few people can really afford those exotic vacations. According to BankRate, the average person spends less than $2,000 per year on vacations. The Federal Reserve reported that 40% of Americans can’t cover a $400 emergency expense, so a pricey vacation — or even a weekend trip to the beach — is out of reach for many.    While some people may save for months or years to pay for their vacations, many more turn to credit cards to finance their trips. Chasing their lifestyles could damage your bank account.   

2. Believing in the fantasy

With so many people posting beautiful photos of lavish purchases, it’s easy to believe that everyone is living a more luxurious life than you. But what you see on social media isn’t always real life.    You have no idea how people are paying for those luxuries. They could be well off, or they could be in extraordinary debt.    One well-known influencer racked up $10,000 in credit card debt to keep up her Instagram persona, filling her feed with pictures of dinners out, new outfits, and online purchases. And companies exist that allow users to hold fake private jet photo shoots   Take the photos you see with a grain of salt and don’t compare yourself to others.  

3. Purchasing on impulse

Social media ads are incredibly targeted; they’re based on your search history and likes, so you’ll likely see ads for products that will appeal to you. In fact, a 2019 survey from VidMob found that one-third of Instagram bought an item directly from an Instagram ad.     With one-click purchases and saved credit card information, it’s easy to make a purchase in an instant before you can really think it through.    If you find yourself making purchases while scrolling through your social media feeds, you may be wasting money.   

How to stay on track

If your social media use is compromising your finances, use these five tips to get back on track:   

1. Limit your screen time

While it may seem difficult during shelter-in-place orders, set limits on how much time you spend on social media. You can use your phone’s screen time settings to see how much time you currently spend on your phone. Use apps like Moment, Freedom, and SelfControl to limit your social media access.   

2. Keep visual representations of your goals in front of you

To combat visuals of vacations and other purchases, keep visuals of your goals handy. For example, if you’re paying down student loan debt, keep a visual graph of your progress on your phone or saved to your computer desktop.    (Hint: Need help paying down your debt? Consider student loan refinancing. Our customers have reported that they are saving an average of $272 every month and should see an average of $13,940 in total savings after refinancing their student loans with Education Loan Finance. You can get a rate quote without affecting your credit score.*)   If you plan on buying a home or a car, keep a picture of your dream purchase saved. You can also create a Pinterest vision board of what your goals are to help keep you focused.    After all, taking control of your finances can help you live lavishly once your debt is repaid.   

3. Set a waiting period before making any purchases

Institute a waiting period before making any purchases to curb impulse buys. Make yourself wait 72 hours before making a purchase.    If you see an item you want, save it. If you still want the product three days later, you can give yourself permission to buy it.    You may find that you completely forget about it, or that it’s less appealing after a few days. By making yourself wait, you can ensure that your purchases are things you really want and need.   

4. Curate your feeds

Social media can be fun, but it can also make you feel bad about yourself and your life. To combat those problems, spend some time eliminating feeds and unfollowing accounts that make you feel inadequate, and only follow accounts that make you happy.    Feeds that feature cute dogs? Follow! Home decor feeds with throw blankets and lamps that cost more than your rent? Unfollow.   

5. Practice gratitude

Researchers have found that focusing on things that you are thankful for is proven to make you happier. Every day or at least once a week, set aside some time to jot down things you are grateful for that happened during the week.    They don’t have to be big things. Cooking an especially tasty dinner, being able to spend time binging Netflix with a friend or partner, walking your dog, or still having a paycheck during a difficult economic period are all things to be thankful for right now.    By focusing on the good things that are already in your life, you’re less likely to be affected by FOMO and social media’s influence.   

Managing your money

Using social media can be a great way to connect with friends and family and pass the time, but it can negatively impact your finances. But by using these tips, you can combat its effects and manage your money.   
  *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.
Millennial reading in living room
2020-05-11
Forget the Joneses: Why a Modified HENRY Lifestyle May Be Better

If you have ever been tempted to get the latest phone or newest trendy clothing, you may be familiar with the feeling of needing to keep up with the Joneses. Now, some millennials are feeling the pressure to live up to a new standard. As opposed to the proverbial Joneses, it’s the HENRYs. Although HENRYs have their downfalls, just like the Joneses, with some financial tweaks you can set yourself up for a bright financial future and avoid the pitfalls of being a HENRY.     By Caroline Farhat  

What Is a HENRY?   

HENRY is an acronym that stands for “High Earner, Not Rich Yet.” First used in a
Fortune magazine article in 2003, it’s a term that describes millennials who typically earn over $100,000 but feel broke. According to financial experts that help HENRYs with their financial goals, the typical HENRY is: 
  • Earning more than $100,000 a year as an individual or $150,000 as a couple
  • A millennial, with the average age being 32 years old 
  • Working in any industry, including software engineering, digital marketing, journalism, law, medicine and finance 
  • Usually living in high cost of living areas with the higher-paying jobs, like California, New York and Washington D.C., but can live anywhere 
  • Saving money, but not enough. The typical HENRY may have between $15,000 and $20,000 saved. Although this may seem like a lot compared to the 58% of millennials that have a savings account balance under $5,000, based on the percentage of income earned, the savings are minimal.  
 

Problems HENRYs Face

Many millennials who are considered a HENRY feel like they are living paycheck to paycheck, however, they make it a priority to pay for expensive gym memberships and dream trips. Here are some problems HENRYs face and how to fix them:   

Lifestyle Creep

Lifestyle creep refers to the phenomenon in which spending on discretionary items increases when income increases. It can be dangerous to increase spending each time your income increases because it can derail future financial plans. HENRYs often give into lifestyle creep because they have the mentality that they deserve the luxuries they have become accustomed to.   The Fix: To fight lifestyle creep, prepare a budget with the goal of trying to save at least 10% of your income a month or 20% or more if you do not have any debt. Keep your budget the same even if your income increases and be sure to save the difference in income. If you are able to lower your expenses, save that difference too. It’s recommended that the savings go to a retirement account and building an emergency fund.      

Student Loan Debt

  Student loan debt is a major strain for many HENRYs. According to one financial expert, 40% of her clients who are considered HENRYs have student loan debt. HENRYs owe an average of $80,000 in student loans, much higher than the average $33,000 for millennials in 2019. However, for many HENRYs, student loans helped them achieve the education they needed to obtain the high wages. The best way to deal with the student loan debt is to see if you’re missing out on ways you could be saving money on your loans and create a plan to pay them off quickly.   The Fix: Student loan refinancing can be extremely beneficial for many student loan borrowers.* Refinancing student loans can save you money on your monthly payment and in interest costs over the life of the loan. This will allow you to build more wealth faster and feel less strapped for cash. So how much can you save?    Let’s say you had $35,000 in student loan debt at 7% interest with a 10-year repayment term. By the end of your repayment term, you’d pay a total of $48,766. Interest charges would cause you to pay back $13,766 more than you originally borrowed.     If you refinanced your student loans and qualified for a 10-year loan at just 5% interest, you’d repay $44,548. Refinancing your debt would help you save $4,218.     Use our student loan refinancing calculator to find out what your potential savings could look like.*    

Living for the Now

  HENRYs like to focus on the now, and although it is good to live in the present and appreciate what you have, that may not be the best mindset for your finances. HENRYs have to accept that the future will come and they have to prepare for it. But preparing for the future doesn’t mean you have to make a ton of sacrifices! It’s completely possible to enjoy worldly adventures and designer brands now and still save for the future.    The Fix: Decide 2-3 future goals you’d like to achieve and examine the type of financial situation you’ll need to make them happen. Do you want to save for a down payment on a house? Plan to start a family soon? Or are you looking to retire early? Once you have your goals, set up automatic transfers to a special savings account so that you’re not tempted to touch the money.  

Cost of Living 

HENRYs face a higher cost of living because income increases have not kept up with the rising cost of housing and medical expenses. Many also face the added stress of living in high-cost metropolitan areas.   The Fix: Try to cut your living expenses by choosing to live in the suburbs where housing costs may be lower. If cutting your living expenses is not an option, decide what discretionary expenses you can lower. For example, if you are used to getting takeout multiple times a week, try swapping easy home-cooked meals for at least half of the time.  

Conclusion

If you realize you are a HENRY, this doesn’t mean financial doom for you. Making these small tweaks can help you continue to live the lifestyle you enjoy while working towards a richer 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.