4 things I’d tell my former self and by former, I mean pre-frosh and financially unwise.

By Carly Ciricillo, NextGenVest College Fellow

The best campus jobs will be taken before you find out what they are.

You’re thinking about getting a work-study job. Under this illusion of proactivity, you’re already going wrong. The trick is not to think but to do, because the good ones go fast. What do I mean by “good”? There are always semi-secret jobs where the effort-to-pay ratio is way off — in the worker’s favor. The best jobs available to freshmen are those that allow you to make money merely by doing your homework in a designated spot where others can approach or call you if they have a question about, say, when the library is open till tonight. Trust me, you don’t want to be making minimum wage barista-ing the campus coffee shop, when you could be making minimum wage studying for that crazy 8am exam you have tomorrow (side note: freshman grades do matter, people). Ask the upperclassmen working orientation for some direction. They’ll know (better than you, the staff or the university careers pamphlet) what kind of job you really want.

There’s no excuse for not working.

On the other hand, if you aren’t quick enough to snatch up one of these “good” jobs upon it being clawed from the hands of a yet unemployed graduate, you should still start working ASAP. A job, any job, no matter how demanding or embarrassing, means money, experience, a potential recommendation and the opportunity to make new friends!

Meal plan “points” don’t equal unlimited money.

This one’s for all those freshman who’ll likely walk into their campus grocery store for the first time feeling like the Nickelodeon Super Toy Run contestant they always aspired to be as a child. You’ve never had so much “fake money” at your disposal. Your eyes suddenly become 3x as big as your stomach (or whatever that saying is). But here’s the thing: your student ID is not a gift card. Mid-semester, you’ll be wondering where all of those points went, I guarantee. And who’s gonna be paying for your food then? You are.

Academic efforts can translate into financial rewards!

This is something I never knew to be as true as it is before graduation rolled around, and suddenly it seemed as if my university had little reason to be complaining about all of the endowments it apparently lacks. Aside from those scholarships, fellowships and grants you’ve spent hours and hours applying for, there are tons of money prizes that colleges award to particular students who’ve demonstrated academic excellence in the classroom. Most of these are field or major-based and can range from funding for your semester abroad or summer experience to straight up money in your pocket! My advice? Show promise. Ok, I know — easier said than done. But showing improvement, or interest, could also do the trick. So buddy up to your professors, and maybe casually hint at how much of your time your work-study job is taking up… you never know!

Carly is a college fellow at NextGenVest. Sign up to be a part of the NextGenVest community at _NextGenVest.com_