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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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Employer student loan repayment benefits keep employees happy
2020-10-13
How to Help Your Employees Pay Off Student Loans

Traditionally, employer benefit programs are focused on two things: investing and healthcare. Keeping your employees healthy and financially secure helps decrease turnover and increase productivity.   But when employees are buried in student debt, investing in retirement feels fruitless. Before they can focus heavily on planning for the future, they need to decrease their current student loan balances.   As an employer, you have the power to make a significant difference in your employees’ debt repayment timeline. Here are a few ways to do just that - and why helping your employees become debt-free is a smart business decision.  

How Student Loan Benefits Work

Currently, employers offer a variety of student loan repayment assistance methods. These include:  

Educational Support

The least expensive method is offering financial education to employees. This would typically involve hiring an outside expert to offer group meetings or one-on-one coaching. These can be done in-person or online.   These sessions can be helpful, especially if done repeatedly throughout the year. They may be offered on their own or in conjunction with direct monetary support.  

Sign-up Bonus

Some employers pay a lump-sum toward an employee’s student loan balance when they join the company. This is a one-time benefit used to attract new employees, but it can also be seen as unfair to existing employees who never received a sign-up bonus.  

Matching 401(k) Contributions

Many companies offer matching contributions to an employee’s 401(k) account. In these cases, the individual contributes their own money and the employer matches a certain amount.   One way that companies are combining student loan and 401(k) benefits is by matching student loan payments with a 401(k) contribution.   Here’s how it works. The employee makes a student loan payment, and the money comes directly out of their paycheck. In exchange, the employer contributes that same amount to their 401(k) account. This allows the employee to balance student loan repayment with saving for retirement.  

Matching Student Loan Contributions

Employers may also offer a dollar-for-dollar matching payment to the employees’ student loans. If the borrower pays $200 to their student loans, the employer adds an additional $200. This is the most straightforward way to help your employees become debt-free.   Most companies that offer a matching student loan payment option will have an annual and lifetime limit. For example, the office chain Staples pays $100 a month for three years for eligible employees. Insurance company Aetna pays up to $2,000 a year for full-time employees, up to $10,000 total. Part-time employees receive up to $1,000 a year, up to $5,000 total.   Like 401(k) contributions, some companies require employees to work for a certain number of months before they become eligible for student loan repayment benefits.   As part of the CARES Act passed in March 2020, any student loan repayment benefits, up to $5,250, made by an employer between March 27, 2020 and December 31, 2020 will not count as taxable income. Unless this provision is extended, student loan repayment benefits will then be taxed after that date.  

How Student Loan Repayment Benefits Employers and Employees

The total US student loan balance grows at a rate of about 7% every year. In 2019, the average graduate had $35,397 in student loans. New hires often bring mountains of student loan debt with them, and student loan repayment benefits can make a huge difference.  

Decreasing Student Loan Stress

A recent study found that more than 85% of individuals with student loan debt name it as a major source of stress, and 33% call it out as one of their top three stressors. A 2019 survey from Marketplace-Edison Research found that those with student loans had two-thirds more economic anxiety than those without student loans.   “When I was paying off student loans I was very anxious and stressed,” said Melanie Lockert, host of “The Mental Health and Wealth” show. “I don't think it affected my productivity per se, but it affected my quality of life and how I felt while doing the work. Of course, those feelings can indirectly affect work as well.”   Employers reap the rewards when workers have less financial stress. According to a study from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), about 60% of employers said they noticed workers found it hard to focus because of personal financial problems. Another 34% of employers said they noticed absenteeism and tardiness also related to financial stress.   This isn’t a new revelation - it’s basic psychology. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that humans need to feel physically safe before they can improve their psychological well-being. The same is true with financial stress. If your employee is worried about defaulting on their student loans, they may be too preoccupied to concentrate on work, and too emotionally drained to come up with innovative ideas or brainstorm new solutions.  

Increasing Focus and Employee Retention

When employees feel financially secure, they’ll be more productive and attentive while on the clock. Even if it seems like your employees are producing decent results, they could likely accomplish even more if their attention wasn’t split between work and their student debt balance.   Student loan repayment assistance programs could also improve employee retention. 41% of surveyed companies offering student loan assistance have found it improves recruitment and 38% believe it has improved employee retention rates.   The data backs up those responses. Healthcare company Trilogy offers $100 a month in student loan repayment assistance to both full-time and part-time employees. Employees who utilize this program stay at the company 2.5 times longer than those who don’t.   Since it costs several thousand or even tens of thousands of dollars to train a new employee, it may actually be less expensive to pay their student loans. That’s not even considering the intangible benefits that come from having a roster of experienced, loyal employees.  

Offer Employer Student Loan Repayment with ELFI for Business

If your company is interested in adding student loan repayment assistance as a workplace benefit, they can join ELFI for Business. ELFI will create a student loan repayment program designed for your employees, managing the actual payments so your accounting department doesn’t get bogged down with the details.  
  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.  
Avoid common medical resume mistakes for interview success
2020-10-12
Common Resume Mistakes for Medical Professionals

If you search for “medical resume template” online, you’ll find thousands of options, all very different. Which choice, though, will give you the best chance of earning your dream job? Keep these common resume mistakes for medical professionals in mind when you’re putting together your application, and you’ll already be a step ahead of many other candidates.  

Write Your Resume for the Job You Want

Too many medical professionals make the resume mistake of assuming all jobs are looking for the same thing. This is, in fact, a huge logical fallacy, because although two jobs may be in the same industry,
it doesn’t mean they’re looking for the same candidate. One danger of using an online medical resume template is winding up with a resume that's a little too generic. Pay attention to make sure the format you're using really highlights your medical skills.   For example, if you’re interested in becoming a physician at a hospital, you’ll want to show you’re comfortable with a variety of medical tasks, especially within a hospital setting. You’ll need to prove leadership experience, discipline, problem-solving skills and strong time-management capabilities. In a hospital environment, it’s important to be familiar with your tasks, but also to be prepared to pivot when the situation calls for it.   On the other hand, if you’re applying to become a podiatrist at a group medical practice, your day will likely be more specialized and structured. You’ll need to show experience in the field of podiatry, as well as the ability to provide exceptional patient care. Any hiring manager or supervisor will want to know you’re detail-oriented and that you can clearly explain to patients how to maintain at-home care and general wellness practices.   Some jobs even use an applicant tracking system to screen applications for specific keywords. Do some research before submitting your resume to a potential employer to make sure your resume is optimized. If the hiring manager is looking for keywords like “patient care” or “medical records,” you won’t want to miss these important bullet points.  

Talk About Your Experience, Not Your Goals

Another common resume mistake for medical professionals is focusing on goals and objectives versus real-world experiences. You'll want to be sure you're formatting your medical resume to showcase your hard-earned experience.   In some professions, employers may be looking for someone trainable that can learn most of their job skills on-the-go. In the medical field, however, employers need the opposite. Because you’ll be providing healthcare to patients, knowing your field is far more important than having the ability to learn new skills from scratch.   Most jobs do require learning as you go, however, medical professionals are expected to bring some level of experience with them, even to entry-level positions. After all, you’ve put years of time and effort into earning a high-level degree, so you’ve likely graduated with a significant amount of knowledge. Unlike other professionals who learn many of their job skills after graduation, medical professionals graduate with the knowledge necessary to hit the ground running. Employers need candidates whose experience prepares them to do just that.  

Share Quantifiable Evidence of Success

If you received an award, increased productivity by 10% or worked with 250 trauma cases during your residency, list those numbers on your resume. One common resume mistake for medical professionals is listing vague experiences without backing them up with quantifiable information. Be sure the way you present your experience highlights your medical skills and shows the impact of your work. Here’s an example of how to share your experience, as well as an example of how not to share:  

How Not to Describe Your Medical Experience

“Spoke with several patients about their ongoing medical needs” doesn’t work, because it isn’t specific or quantifiable. Did you speak with five patients or 50? What did you discuss about their ongoing medical needs? While this likely describes months of hard work, without details, the hiring manager may miss what you’re trying to say.  

How to Describe Your Medical Experience

“Conducted medical interviews with 34 new patients, with a 96% patient retention rate” is much more specific. It explains that you spoke with an impressive number of new patients, collecting details about their medical histories and ongoing needs. As a general practitioner, retaining this many patients is a huge win, as most patients stay with the same doctor for a long time.  

Grammatical Mistakes: Missing the Forest for the Trees

Sometimes, when you’re so focused on getting the tiny details of your medical resume right, it’s easy to miss larger mistakes like spelling errors. Even if the information in your resume is fantastic, a misspelled word negates all your hard work.   Several employers will immediately toss resumes with grammatical errors, so be sure to proofread. For good measure, ask a friend or family member to look it over, as well.  

The Bottom Line

Applying for jobs is hard work. If you can avoid these common resume mistakes many medical professionals make, however, you’ll stand out as a stronger candidate. Putting in extra time and effort on your resume will pay off when you receive follow-up calls for fantastic jobs. It will also differentiate you from other candidates, as well as from those using medical resume templates. After crafting the perfect resume, be sure to check out our tips for graduates entering the job market, as well.  
  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.
Benefits of refinancing psychiatric student loan debt
2020-10-06
A Psychiatrist’s Guide to Student Loan Refinancing

Psychiatrists are highly-educated doctors trained to diagnose mental health disorders and to prescribe medicine. Psychiatrists receive extensive training, attending undergraduate and medical schools before completing a seven-year residency.

 

This training comes at a price. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the median cost of a four-year public medical school is $255,517, and the cost of a private medical school is $337,584.

 

The time and effort pay off for psychiatrists, however, as the average wage was $220,380 in 2018. The field is also growing, with demand for psychiatrists expected to increase by 12% through 2029 -- far above the average of around 4% growth for all occupations.

 

The combination of career stability and high earning potential makes psychiatrists ideal candidates for student loan refinancing. Refinancing psychiatric student loan debt can help psychiatrists lower their student loan interest rates and accomplish other key financial goals more easily.

 

Why student loan refinancing may be right for psychiatrists

Becoming a psychiatrist requires multiple degrees over more than a decade of education. You'll need an undergraduate degree from a four-year institution, as well as a degree from an accredited medical school. You'll also need to complete at least two rounds of residency. These include the standard four-year medical student residency, as well as a three-year psychiatry residency.

 

After years of training, most psychiatrists acquire substantial student debt. To make matters worse, the interest rates on medical school loans are often higher than other student loans. It also takes time to start earning a high income, as the average salary for a first-year medical resident was just $57,191 in 2019, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

 

If you have high-interest student loan debt, refinancing can reduce the cost of your monthly payments and reduce total borrowing costs over time.

 

How to refinance your psychiatric student loan debt

There are five simple steps in refinancing your psychiatric student loans:

 

1. Determine if you qualify to refinance your psychiatric student loan debt

Lenders want to make sure you're a reliable borrower so you'll have to meet qualifying requirements. Each sets their own standards, but at Education Loan Finance, these are the key conditions:

  • You must have at least $15,000 in outstanding student loan debt
  • Your annual income must total at least $35,000
  • Your credit score must be at least 680
  • You must have at least 36 months of credit history
  • You must have earned a bachelor's degree or higher
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • You must have reached or passed the age of majority (18 in most states)
  • Your debt-to-income ratio must be low enough that your monthly loan payments are affordable
 

2. Consider whether a cosigner could help you get approved for student loan refinancing

Sometimes, it's difficult to be approved when refinancing on your own. This is especially true if you haven't had a lot of time to build a good credit score or are earning an entry-level salary.   A well-qualified cosigner could help you be approved for a better interest rate. Cosigners share legal responsibility for repayment and the lender considers their credit and income in determining if your approval and rate estimate. If your cosigner has a proven history of financial responsibility, this significantly ups your chances of securing the loan you need.  

3. Find out loan rates and terms

Next, you should research different lenders for an idea of the student loan refinancing rates available. Use ELFI's student loan refinancing calculator* to see how much you can save by refinancing your psychiatric student loans.  

4. Get your financial documents together

If you've decided to move forward with refinancing, compiling a few key documents will make the loan application process easier. You'll need:
  • Proof of employment, such as a recent pay stub
  • A W-2 form from your employer or tax returns if you're self-employed
  • A driver's license or other government-issued ID
  • Information about your current student loan accounts, including the loan servicer's name, your account number and the balance on your loan
 

5. Apply to refinance your psychiatric student loan debt

Finally, you'll submit an online application to ELFI by filling out a quick and simple form using the documentation mentioned above. ELFI's team will then review your information and let you know if you've been approved or denied. You should keep making payments in the meantime and you'll be notified when your loan has been approved and disbursed.

 

Other options for managing your loans

1. The National Health Services Corps

Some trained mental health professionals, including child and adolescent psychiatrists, are eligible for loan assistance through the NHSC. Psychiatrists who meet the requirements may receive grants of up to $50,000 towards loan repayment.

 

2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is available on most federal student loans if you work for the government or for an eligible non-profit. You must make payments on a qualifying income-driven plan and can have loans forgiven after 120 on-time payments.

 

3. State student loan repayment programs

Many states offer student loan assistance to psychiatrists who work with underserved populations or who work in the public interest.

 

For example, New York operates a Psychiatric Loan Repayment Program for psychiatrists who work at OMH facilities. Individual psychiatrists who make a five-year commitment can apply for money to repay student loan balances up to $150,000.

 

4. Income-driven repayment plans

Those with federal student loans can qualify for various payment plans in which monthly payments are capped based on income and family size. Payments could be as low as $0 per month and forgiveness eventually becomes available after you've made payments for between 20 and 25 years (depending on the program).

 

Repaying your student loans

As a psychiatrist, you understand the importance of avoiding undue stress -- including the financial stress that can come from substantial student debt. To make repaying your loans as easy and stress-free as possible, consider whether student loan refinancing makes sense for you.

 

 

*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.