By Roisin Mc Manus
Moving to college, while having many wonderful advantages, can cause some difficulties in the process. The cost alone unfortunately turns many young people away from the various opportunities a third-level education can give us. There are so many costs included in being a college student, that it can be quite overwhelming, particularly for incoming students who are not as familiar with it. It is therefore not surprising that more and more students are forced to prioritise work over their studies nowadays.
Recent studies have found that 55% of college students skip lectures to work instead. With rent prices soaring to new heights year after year, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for students and their families to pay for accommodation. This is evident in this research from the Irish League of Credit Unions, as findings also included that 15% cut down on food to afford living costs, 40% cut down on social outings, and 34% expect to be in debt after college.
The results of these studies are quite alarming, and I hope that the government will take notice of the numerous difficulties facing young students. Well-educated citizens are essential to keep a country going, yet due to the rate at which rents are soaring now, among other problems students are facing, we are unfortunately going to be losing many bright young minds due to the sheer cost of education.
Many young students living away from home for the first time have been taught very little about budgeting and managing money. There are so many changes when transitioning from second level to third-level education and money tends to be one of the major causes of stress. Typically, we are so overwhelmed with living on our own and in many ways, becoming our own bosses, that we may not always make the best decisions when it comes to spending money. For this reason, we need to be taught more in school about how to manage money. Our whole lives leading up to college, most of us students knew very little about paying bills and the importance of weekly/monthly budgeting. This is a recipe for disaster in college when our funds are so tight.
Personally, I travel over and back home to Cavan every weekend for work, and I know I’m not the only student doing so. Many students nationwide go home every weekend for work. It is not always ideal to do this but most of us realistically can’t go without work. Working in college is a complete necessity for me in order to pay my way through college. I’m apprehensive for final year however, as I know how important it is for me to get a good degree and I’m sure there will be times where I will struggle to balance work and my college workload.
I consider myself okay at budgeting now but when I first started college, I really hadn’t a clue. There are many ways I cut down on costs in college now. For example, every month I do a big shop and get it delivered to my house. Before buying everything, I plan what meals I can make, the ingredients needed to make them and put them all in my basket. Then I think about snacks and lunches to bring with me to college during the day and put them in too. I find that buying food in college really adds up over the week, so by having food at home to bring in with me, this stops me getting tempted during the day. Planning out what I eat in advance also helps me eat a bit healthier, so that’s a good thing too. Of course, not everything is included in this monthly shop, like when I want sweets, I tend to buy them on the spot. I buy milk and other foods with short expiry dates as I go as well. However, I find that doing this monthly shop works well for me to keep my costs down. It’s also more sustainable to bring food with me so there’s another plus.
It’s a fairly easy habit, but every small change helps during the struggle to be thoughtful with money in college!