Friday, August 29, 2008

Maximize the Benefits of Education

Robert O. Weagley, Ph.D., CFP®

Last week’s Financial Tip of the Week concerned matching the cost of college with the benefits, with particular emphasis on borrowing. It occurred to me that it is just as important to maximize the benefits from education as it is to minimize the costs incurred. So, for the new school year, try these on for size:

1) Take responsibility for your learning. Yes, you have teachers but they’ve got to have learners to make it all come together.

2) Work on improving your time management. Reduce your TV, video game, party, and other non-productive times. Try finding the best place on campus to study between classes and use the 9:00-5:00 block of time to go to class and to study. You will be surprised how much more free time you’ll have and how your grades will improve. (Talk about a win-win!!)

3) Join an club. Meet new people by joining your departmental student group, a club athletic team, a church group, or other organization that causes you to push your envelope and expand your horizons.

4) Set up appointments to meet professionals in your chosen field and ask them if you can interview them about their job and life. Professionals love to help students discover themselves.

5) Work out. Stay healthy. Eat well.

6) Look into study abroad, undergraduate research, or community service opportunities to take you beyond the classroom and to stimulate your thinking and learning.

7) Look into campus resources that help you with finding summer employment, resume writing, financial counseling, or other activities to help build your human capital.

8) Take a course that is different from usual. If you love Shakespeare, try a course in practical physics. Try things you’ve never tried. (Of course, it is real nice if does count toward graduation and is safe and legal.) Go to a ballet, opera, rock concert, pep rally, or country diner – something you’ve never done before. Such stimulation can be powerful in ways you may not initially see.

9) If you are considering graduate school, learn more about what it takes to be accepted into the best schools in your field. Then try to do what it takes. If you are not considering graduate school, answer the question, “Why not?”, until you believe your answer. If you don’t believe your answers, consider graduate school alternatives.

10) Encourage Financial Success in yourself and others you know. (Doing the above will have a lot to do with your success in making that happen.)

11) Enjoy the time you’re a student. I guarantee you will miss it someday.

- Robert O. Weagley, Ph.D., CFP(r)
Chair, Personal Financial Planning
University of MissouriColumbia, MO 65211

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