This archived article was written by: Austin Palmer
College offers many great opportunities, including a young person’s first real experience of independence. The thing is, it’s usually only selective independence. I hate to break it to you, but we live in the “Me” generation these days. It’s true. Many of us pampered young adults don’t know the true meaning of hard work. We want to be on our own, yet we rely on our folks for the majority of our needs, even while attending college.
Ask yourself the following questions: 1) Do I drive a car that I have paid for or are making payments myself? 2) Have I earned a scholarship, or in other ways putting myself through school financially? 3) Do I pay for at least 75% of my bills or my cost of living? If you answered “Yes” to all three questions, then pin a rose on your nose. You are a True Independent. (Quit reading this, as you are likely to become full of yourself.) If you answered “No” to one of these questions, you’re probably considered normal. All of us poor, struggling college students need help from Mom and Pops at times. (Read on if you’d like.) If you answered “No” to two of these questions, you could improve. I know it’s hard, but cut those strings a bit. (Keep reading!) If you answered “No” to all three … I hate to say it but YOU ARE A MOOCH! Moochy, moochy, moochy! (Couldn’t help myself.) Not to fret, dear Mooch, for I have advice and hope to offer! This article is especially meant for you.
While the comfort of “Mom & Dads’ Savings & Loan” is nice and cushy, it is not realistic of the real world. What will happen once you are married, or graduate, or your parents’ well of cash runs dry? If you do not start taking some responsibility for your own financial needs now, reality will one day give you a slap in the face. (Ouch!)
Disclaimer: Not all of this applies to those living at home while attending college. For you fortunate sort (or unfortunate as you may think so now but will realize later it wasn’t so bad) live it up now. Enjoy the home cooked meals and free rent!
Sure, some parents will rationalize for their sons or daughters saying, “They are working so hard at school. That is their ‘real’ job. The least we can do is support them.” Or some will say, “I want to give my kids what I didn’t have.” Both of these reasons are noble and thoughtful gestures, but an easy out for their students who will soon be faced with the real world. These parents are actually hurting their children, rather than helping. The best gift a parent can give their college student is a taste of real independence. I’m not saying parents should pack their 18-year-olds’ bags the day of graduation and say, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” I’m talking about genuine support and encouragement to make and achieve goals academically as well as financially.
Okay, Mooches, your parents obviously don’t agree with my way of thinking or you wouldn’t be a Mooch right now … so it’s up to you to take the first steps towards being a True Independent. The good news is that your time in college is the perfect opportunity to cut the umbilical cord! It can be hard, but doesn’t have to be all at once. You can start by earning good grades and/or doing well in your major this year so that you can earn an academic or departmental scholarship next year. (Yikes! Good grades? It can be achieved!) It’s actually easier than you think … just go talk to my buddy Todd Olsen in CEU’s scholarship office and he’ll tell you more about it. Secondly, put down your paid-for-by-your-parents cell phone and get (at least) a part-time job. Save some money, use some to help pay for your living expenses, and give yourself a little “fun fund” so that you can enjoy your earnings as well. Earning your own money (even a small, sad paycheck) will give you a sense of pride that parents’ wallets just can’t provide. You will get a first-hand appreciation of the value of a dollar and will be more likely to avoid overspending. (Maybe even future bankruptcy.) Not only will you be pleased with yourself once you have started on the path of self-reliance, your parents will also be proud. There are plenty of on-campus jobs available.
The time to quit being spoiled is now, Mooches! Do you want to be a coddled baby once you graduate from college and go out into the work force? Hopefully you’re shouting, “No! I want to be a confident, self-reliant individual with strong work ethic, dang it!”
If this doesn’t motivate you, come find me and I’ll sing, “Moochy,