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What College Major is Right for You?

March 21, 2019

When going to college, one of the most asked questions is, “What’s your major?” For a college student, a major can feel like it defines your career path and your future endeavors. A major can put a lot of pressure on a college student, to pick something fast and stick with it. On the other hand, many college students come into their first year not knowing what they want to study, or where they see themselves. The good news is that is OKAY. There are many things you can do to find a major that suits you and your values. Here is a list of things you can do to help find a college major that is tailored to you:

  1. Get to know yourself

This decision requires you to learn a little about yourself. Maybe start with a personality test. The Myers-Brigg personality test will help you determine what characteristics you have, what you like and dislike, and even suggest work environments that may fit your persona. The Myers-Brigg gives examples of what other people with your personality type succeed in.

Another way to learn about yourself is by evaluating yourself in a S.W.O.T. analysis. The S.W.O.T. stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. List a few things relating to yourself under each column to help you match your abilities to a major that is right for you. Examine your interest, values, and potentials for a major that fits your personality.

  1. Create Goals

After college where do you see yourself? Where do you see yourself 5 years after graduation? What about 10? These can be as detailed or as generalized as you like but setting goals and preparing for them helps when finding a major. Creating short and long term goals help to know what you would like to see in your future and what steps may be necessary to get there. Be sure when you are setting goals for yourself that they are achievable. If your goals are too unrealistic, you may feel discouraged and quit. Some people find writing their goals down on a piece of paper helps to make them more permanent.

  1. Do your Research

Look at majors offered at your college of choice and do some research. There is so much information on the internet. You can also talk with a guidance counselor too if you’re looking for further insight and assistance.  When researching a major you’ll want to take into account the type of career you’ll have with that major. Some questions you may want to ask include what jobs are out there and how sustainable are they.

A four-year university can be expensive. You may find yourself borrowing student loans and receiving financial aid to afford education. Regardless of the major you choose, you need to verify the major and career path have a return on your investment. If you’re borrowing student loans when you graduate you’ll need to pay those back upon graduating. Once you receive your first career job you want to be financially responsible. You should be able to start paying down that student loan debt without having to eat Ramen® every night. Unless you really like Ramen®. When researching consider if the job has long term potential, look at the average salary, and consider location and necessities. A major can lead to many careers, but finding one that can support your future goals and lifestyle is important.

  1. Find a Mentor

Explore some of the options available for the majors you’re interested in and make a few cold calls. Your university may have a directory of alumni who graduated in your field of choice. Call them to find out about their career, day-to-day task, what to expect, and things that make them happy at their job. You can even consider shadowing or interning with alumni to find out if this career path is something you want to consider.

Try paying a visit to a college advisor. Most colleges provide separate advisors depending on the major. Make an appointment where you can sit down with them and discuss course load, professors and future employers with your major of interest. College advisors can help you decide if you can tackle a major on an academic level as well as real-world experience. Before you make the investment of attending college you want to be sure that you are pursuing the right career path for yourself.

  1. Seek Advice

Utilize people within your network and ask them for advice and guidance. Ask friends what they are considering for a major. People in classes may be a good resource for you as well. See what they are planning to study in college and what their interests are. You could even talk to a parent or someone you trust about your values and ideas. The people who are close to you may have your best interest and connections that can help with your decision.

Lastly, going into college not knowing what major to pursue is NORMAL. Do not rush into a major because you don’t want to be behind. Deciding a major a semester late or even changing majors does not always effect graduation dates. The goal of attending college is to gain the skills and education that could lead you to something you will succeed in. As you continue to learn more about college understand how you will handle it financially. It can seem overwhelming, but understanding what your finances are and what you’ll need to be making upon graduation will be helpful.

 

10 Facts About Student Loans That Will Save You Money

 

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2019-09-21
Facing Student Loan Debt? How The Right Job in School Can Land You the Right Job After School

When it comes to landing your first job after graduation and getting a strong foothold on paying back student loan debt, nothing is more important than standing out in the workforce. This doesn’t mean you should equip yourself with a gimmicky resume or a flashy outfit for going on interviews. The way to impress a prospective employer is with experience and skills suited for the position -- not only will this put you on track to paying back your student loan debt, but it will also set you up for long term financial success. When it comes to hunting for a job, college graduates can be put into three categories: ● Those who have waited until after graduation to look for a job. ● Those who have waited for a couple of months (while enjoying their last summer of freedom) before searching for a job. ● Those who have been planning their job search since well before their final exams. The latter understand that in order to give themselves an edge in the job market, they needed to start early.

Gain Work Experience While in College

There is often a catch-22 that applies to looking for a job after college: many entry-level positions require some experience, but you can’t gain experience unless you have already worked in that field. Although there are exceptions, one of the hard facts is that most employers prefer to hire a college graduate who has some work experience to put on the table. So, your best bet is to find part-time work in your chosen field while you are still in school. It might not be easy, as trying to keep up with a full course load and working at the same time can be a challenge. But the reward may be your dream job after graduation. ● Best-case scenario: You find a part-time job related to your field and then use your experience to segue into a full-time position once you have your degree. ● Worst-case scenario: You can’t find a part-time job directly related to your field, but you have demonstrated your ability to hold a job and you have some work experience to put on your resume.

Five Ways to Find the Right Part-Time Work

1. The Federal Work Study Program All federally accredited universities and colleges offer the
Work Study Program. This program matches students with job opportunities which are located both on and off campus. Counselors do their best to pick positions closest to your field of study. These jobs are paid at the minimum wage rate or a little higher and are assigned at a maximum of thirty hours per week. 2. Freelancing If you have certain skills, such as writing or graphic design, you can make some extra cash using freelance sites such as upwork.com and contentrunner.com. The beauty of this kind of work is that you can choose your own hours. There are many internet platforms that are searching for part-time talent – just be sure to research them carefully to avoid scams. Even if you find work that isn’t in the field you are aiming for after college, you will be demonstrating initiative to any prospective employer. 3. Volunteering Volunteering usually means that you won’t get paid, which while admirable, won't make a big dent in your student loan debt. But getting involved with community organizations, charities, animal shelters, etc. shows initiative, a sense of responsibility, and your ability to work with others. It is often easier to find an unpaid position in the field that you want to work in after college through volunteering or an internship. Simply, if you can afford to volunteer you'll likely refine the personal and professional skills that will last a lifetime. 4. Internships Finding internships in your chosen field is one of the best ways to land your dream job after college. Companies love internships because it’s an easy way for them to find talent with hardly any risk or expense on their part. Internships represent the lifeblood of college work experience because nothing beats a hands-on education. The best internship is one that will help you launch your entry-level career.

5. Career Services Department

Most colleges and universities have a Career Services Department whose main goal is to help students fine-tune their professional skills in hopes of landing a great job. From resume tips to mock interviews, they're a wealth of knowledge. Every day they're working with students just like you who have varying amounts of student loan debt and actively want to help you get rid of it! ● Why the Big Companies Aren’t Always the Best Choice: Many academic advisors recommend choosing internships in smaller businesses where they really need hands-on help so you won’t be stuck just making printer copies and coffee runs. Research a few local small to medium-sized companies in your field, and then contact their HR departments to ask whether they have programs for interns. Don’t forget to talk to your professors - they are probably aware of a few good companies that you can contact. As an added perk to employees, many companies are also adding competitive benefits, like tuition reimbursement, helping pay of student loan debt, or providing generous time off. ● When to Start Looking for an Internship - After your freshman year, begin to contact companies that interest you. A good resource is your college’s career-planning office. You may be fortunate enough to be enrolled in a college that offers grants to enable students to accept unpaid (or poorly paid) internships. Or you can consider combining a part-time unpaid internship in the field you want with other work that pays. Fortunately, some high-paying fields also pay their interns quite well, especially if those students are close to graduating.

The Bottom Line

Carefully planning your part-time jobs or internships while you are working toward your degree will give you the best chance of achieving your career goals. And the sooner you begin to earn money out of college, the sooner you can start to pay off your student loan debt. Talk to ELFI about our private student loan offerings by giving us a call today! Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites 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.
2019-09-19
Adulting Tips: 8 Resume Keys to Help you Score that Next Job

Whether you are in the process of heading off to college, or you are graduated and looking to continue your path to financial freedom through student loan refinancing – the work ethic you developed to get into and through school will be a major part of your continued success. But as you enter or progress through your career, the way you present yourself holds even more weight. It’s time to start thinking of your personal brand. Your resume is a key component of how your personal brand comes across to employers. It’s your first opportunity to impress hiring managers and will determine whether you get that in-person interview. For these reasons, it’s essential that is promotes you in the best light possible. Follow these steps (and avoid these mistakes) to achieve the perfect resume.  

1. Customize it.

Submitting a vague, boring resume is a sure way to get yours moved to the bottom of the stack, or out of the pile altogether. No matter where you are in your career path, whether looking for a part-time job in high school, an internship in college, or applying for a job after school, you should always take the time to customize your resume to the job you’re applying for (check out Huffington Post’s tips for customizing your resume). But remember, a little goes a long way here.  

2. What does your email address say about you? 

Your prospective employer shouldn’t look at your resume and think “this person is cool.” In fact, you probably don’t even want them thinking twice about it. You should always avoid email addresses that use nicknames, profanity, or have humorous connotations. Use a simple email address that consists of variations of your first, middle, and last name. We love the tips on creating a professional email address from Hubspot.  

3. Organize it.

You want the employer’s eyes to be drawn to the most important parts of your resume – so be sure to highlight them and make them prominent. If you’re fresh out of school with no work experience, highlight your academic accomplishments; if you didn’t have a great GPA in school but have good work experience, highlight the experience first. Know what your selling point is and prioritize it over your supporting facts.  

4. Don’t be passive or lazy in your use of language.

Showing laziness in your resume? A recipe for unemployment. Be sure to explain your duties at each job, and don’t sell yourself short. Even if two jobs are similar in nature, be sure to express how the experiences were different because it will exemplify some versatility. Using statements like: "same as above" and "etc." when writing your resume shows poor effort and undersells your experience.   

5. Choose the right font.

Be sophisticated, not flashy. Choose a standard font that will be readable by the hiring manager on their phone, laptop, tablet, or any operating system. Your resume may be scanned by automated applicant tracking software, so using a basic font is probably best. Some common examples of “resume-safe” fonts are:
  • Calibri
  • Arial
  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • Helvetica
Check out some more tips on choosing font size and weight from Indeed.  

6. Show that you are detail oriented. 

Typos and other errors are one of the most common blunders that would cause a hiring manager to discard a resume. Submitting a resume that has typos only confirms that your attention to detail is lacking. Don’t be that person. Just like your credit score can reflect your attention to detail in your personal finances as you seek out student loans or to refinance student loans, your resume is that short summary of your professional experience. Don’t let a typo drop your score with your future employer.   

7. Why you? 

Most importantly you want to make an impact on a hiring manager. You need to put emphasis on your accomplishments. Think of instances where you achieved success at previous jobs, on classroom projects, or during extracurricular activities. Your goal is to demonstrate measurable successes to the greatest extent possible. Maybe you were you able to help a previous employer increase revenue by 10%. Or you created marketing campaigns in your college courses that five actual companies were able to use and implement. Or you organized a fundraising event that raised funds for a charity in your community. For some inspiration, here’s JobScan’s list of examples of accomplishments you can put on your resume.  

8. Algorithms are everywhere.

Many employers use electronic databases to store applicant resumes, and scanning tools are programmed to look for key terms in your resume. Using the right keywords may help you get noticed and earn an interview. Use the job posting or description to help you determine which keywords, such as specialized degrees, languages, skills, etc, to include on your resume. We hope this Adulting Tip lets helps you score that next big career move. Education Loan Finance is here to help you along your financial journey from funding your college career to refinancing student loans – we want to empower your path to financial freedom.   Terms and conditions apply. Subject to credit approval.   NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites 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.
2019-09-16
What I Would Have Told Myself in College: Barbara Thomas

  Barbara Thomas, Executive Vice President of Education Loan Finance (ELFI) provides some financial advice to college students based on her own experiences in college.   Hello, I’m Barbara Thomas. For most, like me, my college days were a great experience that lead to incredible personal growth. I had a marvelous sense of freedom and made many new friends. However, I have spent much time reflecting on what I would do differently if I could begin my college life all over again, given what I know now. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? So here’s my advice to all of you who are preparing to enter college, or are currently in your freshman or sophomore years.

Choose an Affordable College

When looking for the right college, don’t get beguiled by a famous name and a beautiful campus. And, while a state-of-the-art fitness center or an Olympic-size swimming pool might be important if you’re an athlete, most of the time you will be paying for them in higher college fees. Instead, make sure to keep your eyes on finances, as affordability should be a top concern. Considering the fact that many students end up taking on sizeable student loan debt, keep in mind that you (most likely) won’t be living on that beautiful campus in your late 20s or 30s.

Rethink Your Path to the Best Education.

Just because a college is more expensive, doesn’t
necessarily mean that it’s better than one that costs less. You should look upon college as an investment in your future. Consider what the return on investment (ROI) from your college education will look like. In other words, analyze which college is likely to provide you with the most bang for your buck. Here’s a report from U.S. News & World Report that gives you the ROI of different colleges.

Look at Alternatives to a Four-Year College.

If you find out that college is not the best path for you, it can turn out to be an expensive mistake. Keep in mind that dropping out of college won’t make your student loans disappear. So before you enroll in a college, consider these alternatives:
  • Take a gap year to earn money to put toward going to college and give yourself more time to decide what you want to do.
  • Consider attending a trade school to learn a valuable skill with high earnings potential.
  • Spend two years at a community college. Attending a community college can help you save on tuition. However, if you plan to transfer to a college of your choice, be sure to do some checking. Find out how many transfer students are accepted and how many of your community college credits can be used.
Do your research and crunch the numbers to make sure you’re making the best choice.

Earn More While in School

A survey of millennials found that earning money while in college was the number one thing that participants wished they had done (or done more of). This reflects the increasing financial cost that goes along with obtaining a college degree. The College Board estimated that in 2017 (updated figures are available), the average student loan debt upon graduation was $28,500. Keep in mind that a heavy debt load is going to affect your financial future – your ability to buy a home, start a family, and save for retirement. Apart from financial considerations, there is no better way to acquire real job skills than to hold down a job and learn about its demands firsthand. Employers know this, which is why previous work experience is the most popular measure to assess job candidates, even those straight out of college.

Research Ways To Lower Your Monthly Student Loan Payments

So, you’ve done everything right - you chose the higher education path that was right for you, and you have landed an interesting job. Now, what about those student loan payments? Are they weighing you down and preventing you from leading the life that you had envisioned after college? ELFI has a solution to your problem – it’s called refinancing. You can close out your original loan and take out a new one with a lower interest rate and/or a longer term. This can significantly lower your monthly loan payments. Get in touch with us to see how we can help you!  

Learn More About Student Loan Refinancing With ELFI

  Terms and conditions apply. Subject to credit approval.