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What is there for a broke college student to do?

by Alyssa Daley - Editor-in-Chief
Tue, Feb 6th 2018 10:00 pm

Dear readers,

The majority of students attending The College at Brockport can agree that money is tight, especially after buying all of those textbooks required for classes and paying the semester’s tuition. All you have to do is begin Googling “broke college student” and it knows what you’re looking for by the time you type in “broke co-”. The stereotype of a poor college student who lives off ramen noodles and only purchases clothes from thrift shops is more true than most outsiders would believe.

Huffpost published an article by Mitchell Friedman entitled, “13 ways you know you’re a broke college student”. This article speaks to the stereotype but also to snippets of truth. The top five relatable hints are listed below:

One: Unsurprisingly the first is, “you get home from class and make ramen noodles.” Some of my friends who live off-campus do in fact live off ramen for a few weeks during the semester when money becomes really tight. Those of us on-campus may have meal plans, but those dining dollars go super fast. They are there one minute and gone the next if we don’t budget correctly.

Two: “You wipe your mouth with the napkins you hoarded from Chipotle.” This I do myself. I don’t use napkins from Chipotle per say, but napkins from other places around town and even from the dining halls are definitely a possible resource to be used when I eat in my dorm. 

Three: I feel like a common fear amongst humans is running out of toilet paper once you’ve already sat down. This next warning sign of being a broke college student relates to that. Friedman writes, “Head to the bathroom. Your toilet paper? All from the library.” I live in the dorms, which means toilet paper is provided. It might not be of the finest quality, but my suitemates and I always make sure that we have at least five roles extra in the bathroom. Before I moved out of the freshmen dorms some of my friends told me stories of doing the same exact thing themselves.

Four: Free food is one of the biggest motivators for college students to attend an event. Friedman captured this slightly, saying, “so you head to the nearest vending machine for a mixer: you know all their locations in a 15 mile radius.” Vending machines aren’t very popular around campus, but free to cheaply priced food is a must. Knowing when all the events that list “pizza/food provided” are scheduled is a solid way to predict when and where a student is going to eat.

Five: The final indicator that you are a broke college student is, “you grab condoms from health services by the handfuls.” Now, even if you’re not grabbing condoms, Hazen Health Center for Integrated Care’s front area where the organization provides over-the-counter common cold medicine, cough drops and miscellaneous first aid supplies like band aids for no cost to students. 

Based on these top five, I’m pretty sure I would call myself a broke college student. No one likes to admit to being poor, but when the majority of people you’re surrounded by are in the same boat as you, it’s easier to come to the come to terms with and not feel ashamed about. It almost becomes a competition between friends to see who can spend the least amount of money or find the best deals. 

Freemoneywisdom.com listed five tips for broke college students, but I don’t agree with all of them. In a nutshell: cut expenses, get rid of the credit card, keep busy, find a part-time job and go part-time for a semester. I only agree with budgeting and cutting spending, as well as finding a part-time job. Staying busy is a nice goal too. Finding free activities to fill your time is a good way to not spend money on entertainment that you could be saving. 

Obviously, it’s important to make as much money as you can while still saving as much as you can, even during the academic semester; however, getting rid of your credit card entirely is not a good idea. I for one want to build up credit so I can get an apartment after graduation. The advice to go part-time for a semester is also good on paper, but if you can help it, no one really wants to stay in school longer than they have to. I mean, at this point, we’ve been in a structured academic setting since we were like four-years-old.

As a broke college student, my goal is to finish college within the traditional four-year period while trying to accumulate as little debt as possible. This is a goal I feel many college students have set as well. Finding ways to be optimistic can be difficult when your financial situation seems so bleak, the financial aid wait so long and the emails from academic accounts so frequent. Remember that no matter how sorry you may be feeling about yourself and your bank account, there is most likely another student who has it worse than you. 

It’s not necessarily a happy thought, but it might get you through the day as a broke college student.

As always, it’s back to the Daley grind!



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