Today: Jun 19, 2024

College students face financial transition; primarily freshmen


I’ve started to fit the role of a stereotypical college student. Sweatpants taunt me every morning with their comfy, fuzzy, warmth. My sleep pattern has quickly fallen from eight hours to a few measly moments, usually disrupted by the booming bass of a local stereo or sirens flying down Wintergreen Avenue, and supplemented every so often with a well-needed nap. Oh the joys of campus living. And, of course, I’ve reached the point where an empty wallet and a dwindling bank account haunt my every purchase. Financial woes are a common side-effect of campus life, and as much as I hate to say it, after my first month of college I find myself neck-deep in them.

Perhaps this a reason why some opt to enroll in online college degree programs. It would definitely remove many of the distractions and temptations.

As I discovered with newfound freedom and what seemed like sufficient funds, the first month of college flew by fast and was regrettably expensive.  Afternoons were filled with trips to Hamden, the shops downtown, and of course, the campus store. After spending what seemed like days waiting in line at the bookstore for my pre-ordered textbooks, I needed a shopping experience without the burden of a backpack. My purchases innocently started with a Southern sweatshirt, but accumulated into rain boots, a hat, more posters for my dorm room, and a pair of sunglasses.  Yes, maybe I shouldn’t have, but under normal circumstances, the few things I bought wouldn’t have been such a hit to my wallet. However, when you consider the money needed for textbooks, school supplies, food, pledges, and that awesome frozen yogurt shop downtown, you discover there’s little cash to spare on frivolous things.

After realizing the Chapter 11 situation I’m in, the next step was to cut my purchases down to a minimum. As a way to avoid spending my money on food, I stocked up on 49 cent Raman Noodles, granola bars, and generic brand Mac and Cheese.

I’ve honestly turned into the sweatpants-wearing, Ramen Noodle-making, penny-pinching, stereotypical college student, but I’m not the only one.  The stereotype is there for a reason. So, I asked some fellow students about how this transition from working a summer job to studying full-time at college has affected their wallets.

Sophomore Alexandra Murray returned to Southern this year after working as an unpaid intern for her local, regional newspaper.

“I’ve been so frugal during college it’s ridiculous. I noticed my freshman year that I was reexamining every purchase that I’ve made in my life,” said Murray.

Murray knows what she’s got to do in order to avoid the financial rut most college students fall into.

“You can live on a lot less than you think you can,” said Murray. “Do you really need that new top? Or in my case, that new book?” She advises to “Make a budget! Figure out how much you have to spend and what you need to spend it on.”

When it comes to the main source of her spending, Murray says college puts the hole in her pocket.

“Inadvertently, it’s college because I need to take out so many loans to pay for everything… and school books, school books, school books.”

On the other hand, freshman Paul Benjunas, a commuter and Earth science education major, feels like his biggest spending is for his fuel tank. He avoids a financial dilemma by working two part-time jobs, amounting to around 20 to 25 work hours a week.

“I was able to create a very set schedule in which it perfectly balanced my schoolwork and my jobs,” said Benjunas. “Although a lot of money goes into the gas tank, I have enough money to cover my commuter costs, and I have extra money to spend and save.”

Katelyn Cataldo, a freshman and psychology major, blames financial woes on the costs of transportation around campus and New Haven.

“Transit to leave campus and go out, like taxis and buses, because it adds up,” said Cataldo. “And definitely the expenses of books. One of my books was $200, and we don’t even use it!”

“Being a freshman in college has hit my wallet in several ways,” said freshman Sequoia Cornelius. “First off, I have to pay for copies and laundry. They don’t cost that much, but it definitely does add up. Next, I had to buy books that I needed for class, and exactly how that hit my wallet goes without saying.”

I guess everybody feels the college life spending differently, but no matter the case, high costs and an empty wallet are common trends around campus. I’ve learned to survive on Ramen Noodles and peanut butter, and every once in a while, I allow myself a trip downtown (mostly for the frozen yogurt). But I’ve found I’m not the only one who is haunted by financial woes and grown accustomed to this way of life.

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