How I Graduated From College In 2.5 Years With 2 Degrees AND Saved $37,500

How I Graduated From College In 2.5 Years And Saved $37,500One thing that has been on my mind this month is how I graduated with my Finance MBA two years ago.

It feels like a lifetime ago, but then again it also feels like it was just yesterday.

This has also reminded me about how I graduated with my undergraduate degrees over 4 years ago. For some reason, people don’t believe that’s true, and I was even recently asked to provide proof from a reader…

I know, I have a baby face! The fact that I look a decade younger than I actually am is a whole ‘nother story though.

The main reason why I got so heavily into school was because I wanted to keep busy. I was a freshman in college when my father passed away.

I took four days off from my full-time job after he passed but I quickly went back to keep my mind off of everything that was going on around me. I then worked and went to school a crazy amount of hours to keep my mind off of it. This continued for years and it was my way of dealing with it all.

As a side note, I really didn’t mean for this post to turn slightly depressing but I’m just stating what happened.

There were other reasons for why I rushed through college as well:

  • You might save money. Many colleges (such as the one I went to) charge a flat tuition fee for those attending anywhere from 13 to 18 credit hours. So, whether you take 13 credits or 18 credits, you usually pay the exact same amount of money. Considering the average person takes around 12 to 13 credit hours each semester, that’s a lot of money wasted in my eyes.
  • You can move on quicker. It might be just me, but I couldn’t wait to be done with school. Since I finished so quickly, I was able to dedicate this free time towards something else.
  • You can (hopefully) earn a higher income sooner. Okay, so this isn’t always true, but many people go to college in hopes of making more money when they graduated. After my dad passed away, I officially realized I was completely on my own. I didn’t want to live paycheck to paycheck forever, so I worked towards graduating early so that I could eventually make more money.

 

Now, I know many of you will say “but college is meant to be enjoyed!”

Yes, that is one thing I definitely missed out on since I went through school so quickly. I worked full-time the entire time I was in college, and I missed out on a lot of “normal” college experiences. I was in one college club, and I joined it about a year before I graduated from college so that I could have something college related to put on my resume.

I didn’t make any lifelong friends in college either. Which probably sounds depressing but I promise it’s not. I still have the same friends I’ve had since high school and that is, of course, fine by me.

I also didn’t live in a dorm or college apartment, instead I rented a tiny home (less than 400 square feet and dingy) so I didn’t have the college party experience either.

But I don’t mind. I am who I am today because of my past, and I am happy with the life I have today.

Here are the actions I took to graduate from college in 2.5 years:

 

I took college classes in high school.

When I was in my senior year, almost all of my classes were classes where I was earning college credit. I took AP classes and classes that earned me college credit from nearby private universities (but I took them in the comfort of my high school). I believe I left high school with 14 credit hours (it might have been 18, I cannot remember). This way I knocked out a whole semester of college.

Also, these classes were cheap. I believe it was around $100 per credit hour instead of the normal cost which was anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per credit hour.

My senior year in high school was a breeze even though I was taking so many college classes. I could have taken even more but I had early release each day from school and got out 3 hours early so that I could go to work instead. So, I had plenty of time to work, go to school, and earn college credits.

 

I took a full course load.

When I was in college, I almost always took a full course load.  I took 15 credit hours one semester, but the other semesters I took 21 to 24 credit hours.

I was able to save money because I almost always took the maximum amount. There were also semesters where I paid an extra fee so that I could take 24 credit hours each semester. Anything over 18 credit hours meant I had to pay the extra fee, but it didn’t really bother me. I still saved money by paying less in fees because I wasn’t adding additional semesters to my course load.

 

I took classes one summer.

I regret not doing this more often. I did go to college in the summer time one semester though. I took 12 credit hours and even had to beg the Dean at the college for permission, but he still allowed it. The classes were easy and I had no problem doing this.

I also was able to save money because I took these summer college classes at a community college. I believe it was around $1,500 for all 12 credit hours, which is a steal!

 

I made sure all my classes transferred.

When I took classes for college credit in high school and at the community college, I made sure all of the classes transferred to the university in which I was getting my degree from.

I have heard too many stories about people not checking this ahead of time and wasting years by taking classes that didn’t transfer, and that is just not worthwhile to me.

I even have a friend who had 66 credit hours which didn’t transfer. That is just insane to me!

 

I took night classes.

For some reason, night classes have a bad reputation among certain people. I’m not sure why that is though.

Night classes are literally the exact same thing as day classes, except they are at night time. Yes, it’s really that simple.

Being able to take night classes helped me graduate sooner because I was able to work full-time during the day and attend my college classes at night time. If it weren’t for the night classes, I don’t think I would have been able to graduate as early as I did at all.

 

Are you trying to graduate from college quickly or are you taking your time?

Did you earn any college credits outside of where you earned your degree?

 

 

Is A College Degree a Waste If You’re Self-Employed?

Is A College Degree a Waste If You're Self-Employed?A question that I am often asked now that I am self-employed is if I think my college degrees were a waste. I sort of wrote about this last year in Is a Business Degree a Waste?

As a reminder, I have three degrees – my undergraduate degrees are a B.S. in Business and a B.A. in Management. And then I also have a Finance MBA.

I understand why people are asking this. I mean, technically I do not need any college degree to do what I do since I am my own boss. I also spent a lot of time and money (I had $40,000 in student loan debt at one point!) towards my college degrees.

Here is why I don’t think my college degrees were a waste of time or money:

 

I think my college degrees led me to where I currently am.

I won’t lie, I believe if I didn’t work towards my college degrees, then I probably never would have started blogging and freelancing.

Keep in mind, that I started freelancing online because I wanted to pay off my student loans. So, if it wasn’t for my student loans, I’m not sure if I ever would have even thought about freelancing online.

 

A college degree can help give you experience.

Unless you know exactly what you want to do when you are fresh out of high school, a college degree can give you good experience with what you want to do. College isn’t completely useless either, you actually learn about different things as well!

For example, if you want to start your own business, you may not start it right away. Instead, you may decide to work for someone else and gain experience and industry knowledge through that position – but, in many cases you will need a DEGREE to get that position.

Don’t get me wrong, I think experience is always a great thing, but sometimes in order to get that experience, you need a degree. Funny how that works, eh?

 

My college degrees help me talk about finance.

Since I have multiple business/finance degrees, it helps me talk about finance on my blog and the websites that I staff write on. My degrees will also help me work towards certain financial certifications if I decide to go for them in the future.

No, having a college degree is not a requirement for personal finance blogging, but it did help me learn and understand financial topics that I may not have thought about until I came across it in my personal life.

My degrees also help me with the backend of my business as well, as I know a decent amount about how to run a business, the accounting side of it, and the legal side of it as well (my financial analyst job that I used to have, had to do a lot with business law). All of this really makes it a lot easier to run my business efficiently and effectively.

 

The networking is great.

No, I did not go into $40,000 in student loan debt to hang out with other students, but it is a small benefit of going to college. The contacts that I made in college helped me when I had my financial analyst career, and they are also helping me with my current business as well.

Depending on the business or industry that you are in, networking when you are in college can really help your business. Some people don’t put any effort towards networking, and I just don’t understand that!

 

What do you think?

Are college degrees a waste of money and/or time if you’re self-employed?

 

Image via Flickr by Tamuc

 

We have $200,000 in Student Loan Debt

We have $200,000 in Student Loan DebtHey everyone! The other day I received an e-mail from a reader who wants your help. I left out some identifying information because she wants to remain anonymous.

Just as a refresher to any new readers, I recently paid off around $40,000 worth of student loan debt.

It wasn’t all fun and games though, and I am glad that we put everything we had at the time towards them so that I didn’t have my student loans floating over my head.

I have 3 degrees (I was a double major in undergraduate school, and I also have my Finance MBA). Below are my posts on the subject.

How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast

My Student Loans are GONE

 

 

“Hello Michelle!

I have stumbled upon your blog today in the desperate search on how to start paying off my student loans more. I was wondering if you could give me any advice on where to begin.

Short description, I went to a private university to get a degree in a field I am passionate in (Computer Animation). I am now about $90,700 in debt. Now I actually work at the school that I went to school at. I now teach students. But I don’t make enough to even keep afloat lately. I only make about $32,000 a year and I live a very humble life.

And here is the kicker, my boyfriend ALSO went to school here and ALSO works here and he has even more debt than I do because I had 8 Scholarships going into school. If I would of went to a state university it would have almost been a free ride! Kicking myself.

So in reality together we are about 200,000$ in debt just because we went to school to do what we were passionate about.

In all honesty, I’m terrified. It has stifled our lives. We can’t even think about getting married or having kids.

We can pay my bills now but at the end of the month we have nothing to put into savings. I’ll get 300$ saved up (I direct deposit 10% of every pay check) and then a month goes by where things are tight or I have to pay most expensive loan and then I have to use that savings again. I’m absolutely frantic to find a way to pay this debt off.

All of your posts are so insightful and obviously you know what you are talking about but along with all my stress I absolutely do not know where to even start. I’m so nervous about emailing you but I am willing to try anything. I hope you are able to give me some insight. Sorry for such a spew of my situation. I’m sure you get TONS of emails. I really appreciate any time at all you have to email me back. I hope you have a wonderful day!

A few things I have already done and looked into are:

I am in the process of starting a blog to document this journey and sharing the fails and successes I come across. I am looking into sites where I can use my skills as an artist to make extra money (e.g. Etsy, Shapeways, Redbubble). I also put in an application to Zirtual because I have a pretty open schedule while at my job. I have signed up for auto payments on my smaller loan to get the 0.25% interest discount. Which is scary because there is no guarantee that the day it pulls I will have gotten paid in time and that I might not overdraw. But hopefully I’ll start making side money enough to not have to worry about that.”

 

If you have anything that you would like to say to help out this reader, please leave a comment below! I know she is very excited to see what everyone says and she will try to reply to comments as well.