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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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2019-11-25
Educate Yourself Before Taking Out Student Loans

Taking out student loans to attend college has become extremely common in the United States. However, just because they are common does not mean you shouldn’t pay attention to what you’re getting into. It’s important to know your responsibilities when taking out a loan of any type, especially student loans. Take these steps before making an investment in your education by taking out a student loan.   

Educate Yourself

Before you take out a student loan, educate yourself on the details of it. Make note of the interest rates, eligibility terms, repayment terms, etc. before signing off on the loan. Our friends at eCampusTours have several articles and resources about student loans that can help you better understand your loan terms:
 

Repayment Plan

Keep in mind that when you take out a student loan, you will have to pay it back – even if you don’t graduate or aren’t happy with your education. If you want to get a grasp on what your repayment will look like following college, check out this worksheet:        Ideally, you’ll secure a job in your field after graduating from college. Although you’ll want to pay off your loan quickly, keep in mind that your overall repayment shouldn’t exceed 15% of your monthly income. ELFI has some additional tips for prioritizing your student loan repayment. Here’s a worksheet that can help you determine how to repay your loans following college:     Taking out student loans is a commitment. Educating yourself on the responsibilities associated with student loans will help you make sound decisions about your education and will prevent you from feeling blindsided by your student loan debt and repayment terms later on.  
  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.
2019-11-21
Tips for Navigating Career Fairs

Career fairs present you with the opportunity to network with potential employers, learn about job opportunities in your prospective industries, get eyes on your resume, and even get some preliminary interview practice. While these opportunities are great, you won’t be able to take advantage of them without proper preparation. Here are some tips for making the most out of career fairs.   

Prepping for the Career Fair

Do your research Before the fair, contact your college’s career center to see what companies will be present at the fair. Make a list of the companies or organizations that you’re interested in and conduct some online research about them. Understanding the company’s history and information about what they offer will help you better engage recruiters, and just might earn you an on the spot interview.   Prepare your resume Proofread your resume, show it to friends and professionals you know, and even run it by someone in the career center. Follow our guide about
resume tips for some help here. If you want to go above and beyond, make different resumes for different career paths that you’re interested in.    Find appropriate attire While most career fairs suggest business casual attire, make sure you’re prepared to dress to impress. Typically men should wear pressed pants with a shirt and tie, and women should wear pants or a skirt with a blouse. Wearing sneakers or a graphic tee probably isn’t a good idea.    Practice your pitch Get your “elevator pitch” ready for the career fair. This is basically just your way of introducing yourself, highlighting your skills, and presenting your interests to the recruiter or employer. Being able to express your skills and aspirations in a succinct manner will be sure to impress potential employers.   Create a list of questions Come up with a few questions to ask the employers, so they will know you are interested in their company. These should be questions that you could not find the answers to during your research. Here are some sample questions:
  • What kinds of entry-level positions exist within your company?
  • What courses do you suggest in order to be a successful candidate?
  • What is the average length of stay in entry-level positions?
  • What new product lines/services have been announced recently?
 

At the Career Fair

Devise a game plan Picking up a copy of the floor plan at the career fair and mapping out your main booths of focus will help make the process less overwhelming. Some lines may be longer than others, so plan your strategy to make the best use of your time. While you want to try to talk with every employer in your targeted group, remember to stay open to meeting other employers you may not have originally considered.   Be respectful While you want to make the most of the career fair, you shouldn’t just move from booth to booth picking up free stuff and handing out your resume. This can be a major turn-off for recruiters because they want to talk with people interested in the company, not the giveaways.   Warm up Start your rounds by going to a couple of booths that are not at the top of your list. This way you can get warmed up to interacting with the recruiters before meeting the employer in which you are really interested.   Show confidence Remember to smile, make eye contact, and give firm handshakes when introducing yourself to recruiters. Being confident should come easy to you as long as you do your preparation homework before the fair. Remember your pitch and be ready to answer any questions about your resume. Don't forget to ask the recruiters questions about their companies; it shows that you are interested.   Ask for business cards and contact information For future correspondence, be sure to request the business card of each recruiter with whom you speak. Make notes on the back of the cards to help you remember what was discussed.   Close strong When wrapping up with employers, you should always ask about the next step in the recruiting/application process. Be sure to shake hands and thank them for their time. Stress your interest by saying that you look forward to hearing from them within the near future.  

Following the Career Fair

Review literature  After the fair, go through all the information that you gathered from the recruiters. Look over your notes and think about your interactions with each employer, so you can decide which positions may be of interest to you.   Follow up Be sure to send thank-you notes to the recruiters with whom you spoke. Include specific information so the recruiters will remember you. If the recruiters asked for more information, such as transcripts, another resume, writing sample, reference list, etc., be sure to get that information to them as soon as possible.    For more tips and suggestions on navigating the career fair and to find out about career fairs in your area, visit your school's Career Center.  
  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.
2019-11-18
The Average Cost of College

When it comes to shopping, many of us have champagne taste and a beer budget. We shop with our eyes and our hearts before taking a peek at the price tag. The process of selecting a college is no different. We make decisions based on location, athletic teams, available programs of study, greek life, or even where our friends apply. Unfortunately, for many people, the cost of college lives at the bottom of the checklist, despite being a vital factor to consider.    The average cost of college for the 2019-2020 school year, is $21,950 for public, four-year, in-state colleges and $49,870 for private universities. This is an increase of 2.6% and 3.3%, respectively, over the year prior, alone.    Without question, college is expensive, and very few people are talented enough to get an athletic or academic scholarship to completely or partially cover the cost of education. An even smaller number of people are able to pay for a degree out-of-pocket. That leaves the majority of college students and their families to rely on loans to pay the bills.     Further complicating matters, a lot goes into the cost of college, including your residency status, level of degree you seek (bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral), where you live (on-campus, alone, or with a house full of roommates), and even how much you eat or how you commute to campus.    To help you understand where you can save, as well as how you can cover expenses with financial aid, let’s dig into what comprises the average cost of college.   

Tuition

Average Cost: $10,440 (public) | $36,880 (private)*

Tuition is the amount you pay your university to enroll in classes. The total changes based on the number of credit hours you take and if you take courses with additional charges like science labs or residential academic programs that let you attend smaller classes in your dorm. Offers like the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) can help students save money by providing in-state tuition to out-of-state students. Despite programs like this, the average cost of college is always rising because tuition increases each year based on inflation, school budgets, and a variety of other factors.    Mandatory fees are lumped into tuition and include contributions toward campus construction and access to things like:
  • Student rec center
  • Athletic events
  • Career services
  • Student activities
  • Computer labs
  • Bus passes
  • Etc. 
 

Room and Board

Average Cost: $11,510 (public) | $12,000 (private)*

Many colleges require you to live on-campus for at least your first year of attendance. The benefit of this requirement is that you’re close to classes and resources, including dining halls and bodegas that can be paid for with your room and board fees. These costs aren’t typically part of the bill for community colleges or schools with a high population of daily commuters. However, students will still need to cover living expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries if they chose not to live at home with their parents and amounts vary based on eating habits and geographic locations. For example, rent in California is higher than in Tennessee and the general cost of living in an urban setting is higher than it is at a rural school.   

Books

Average Cost: $1,240 (public and private)*

Books can be a secret killer when it comes to college expenses. No one ever anticipates the sticker shock associated with their first $300 textbook. These costs also include necessary technology like tablets or laptops for note-taking and essay writing. It also can include special supplies like graphite pencils and drawing paper for art majors or scrubs or stethoscopes for nursing majors. These semesterly shopping trips can do real damage to your checking account and add to the average cost of college.   

Transportation

Average Cost: $1,230 (public) | $1,060 (private)*

So far, we’ve focused on what you’ll need to pay to get by on campus, but we haven’t talked about the expenses associated with getting to campus. These costs impact resident and commuter students and range from airplane tickets and bus fare to parking passes and tanks of gas.    

Financial Aid 

When factoring the average cost of college, the other side of the ledger is represented by financial aid in the form of scholarships and need-based grants. With these awards, that don’t have to be repaid, the cost of tuition is reduced.    In addition to scholarships and grants, federal and private loans are available to help cover the cost of college. Private lenders offer student loan options for undergraduate students, graduate students, and even parents. Loans cover everything from tuition to personal expenses that you’ll occur during your college years, like cell phone bills, clothes, laundry, or even a bed for your apartment. The biggest thing to keep in mind when taking out loans is to borrow only what you’ll need. It’s necessary to have money to pay bills while you’re a full-time student, but borrowing too much can put you in a bind when it comes time to pay back those loans.  
  * Source: https://research.collegeboard.org/pdf/trends-college-pricing-2019-full-report.pdf 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.