The Effects of Student Debt on Career Choices

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A college degree is supposed to expand job opportunities but many graduates with student loans find themselves feeling more restricted. The pressure to repay student loans can make you feel like you must take a job, any job, that has a pay grade that facilitates your monthly repayment responsibilities, getting yourself down this rabbit hole can be a slippery slope. Prioritizing salary over satisfaction will ensure that your bills get paid, but at what cost? It is unlikely that the career path you set to follow at eighteen when you began your college career is the exact same path you will walk for the duration of your professional life. Understanding the pitfalls of putting student debt repayment before career advancement can help you to gain the knowledge you need to avoid being stuck in both an unfulfilling career, and a pile of debt.

Payback Pitfalls

If you take out student loans from a private lender in order to pay for your education, you will have a clear repayment plan in place when you graduate so there should be little to no surprises. Having said that, determining how you are going to come up with the cash you need to pay that bill successfully and entirely each month can be a little less obvious. Entry level jobs are notorious for low salary levels, and employers can get away with this because pay scale is determined by experience and as a recent college grad, you likely have none. However, do not let an entry level salary dictate your first professional experience, especially since this is a foundational building block that can shape how you make career choices moving forward.

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Although you are just starting your repayment period, investigate any refinancing options you qualify for. Interest rates may have drastically changed since the time you signed your loan agreement and why waste extra money each month on interest? Also consider supplementing your income with a side hustle. If the job of your dreams does not meet your financial needs, you might find it more satisfying to still accept that job and sacrifice some free time earning money from a second job to cover your student loan debt. Remember that this sacrifice of time is only temporary and can catapult you closer towards your goals professionally and financially.

Putting Your Dreams on Hold

High monthly bills can easily make you feel like you cannot or should not follow your heart and instead follow your head regarding your career. This can be costly in ways that reach beyond your wallet. Creating an environment and a morale where subpar, and good enough, are acceptable is counterproductive to career advancement and can lead to complacency in not just your job, but the other areas of your life as well.

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Being able to understand what it means to be obligated to your student loans, but also to your own happiness and how the two can coexist is essential. For example, your student debt might dictate a timeline for when you can purchase your first home, however they should not totally derail it. Working your dreams into your reality will teach you a harmony that will allow your dreams to remain once the time comes that your student debt no longer does.

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