A good score on the GRE, LSAT, or MCAT exams will help you get into your dream graduate programs, but there is more to life after Willamette than further education.
Part of being self-sufficient and self-reliant adults is knowing how to manage your credit: A good credit score will open more doors after graduation than most test scores.
But what exactly is credit? What is a good credit score? What can you do with it? Why don’t we know more about it?
Though we appreciate that our education at Willamette has given us the tools to think critically and theoretically, we wish the University went further in giving us tools to succeed outside of academia and the workplace. We wish we gained the more mundane, yet just as important, skills of personal financial management and credit building that will allow us to function in society.
Part of the University’s mission statement claims that a “Willamette education prepares graduates to transform knowledge into action and lead lives of achievement, contribution and meaning.”
However, the critical thinking skills we will acquire after four to five years in the classroom will only go so far.
Part of our education should also involve practical, tangible tools and resources that will prepare us for life after our undergraduate and potential graduate studies.
Essentially, Willamette does not teach us how to be financially autonomous adults.
But how could our school even go about offering this education to students?
One option would be a quarter-credit course in personal financial management.
Perhaps the Office of Residence Life could have Community Mentors create an educational programming series on credit building skills and financial management.
Either way, the University should seek to provide students with opportunities to receive some sort of education on financial responsibility and consumer credit.
Whether we like it or not, credit plays a big part in having economic and financial stability after graduation.
Though credit can lead to insurmountable debt, the borrowed money guaranteed by a credit grantor, such as a bank, can allow you to purchase goods and services when you need them.
Let’s consider what doors are closed to us if we fail to attain credit, or if we mismanage it due to a lack of knowledge about responsible and appropriate use.
Fast forward about three or four years after graduation.
Looking to buy a car to get to and from your new job? If you don’t have a decent credit score, you will most likely get turned down for financing, and if the car dealer does grant you a lease on a car, the interest are probably astronomical.
The higher your score, the more bargaining power you have. Trying to buy your first home or rent an apartment, specifically in a very populated area? Good luck.
Without an attractive credit score behind your name, a credit lender or a property manager is less likely to grant you a mortgage or a lease on a piece of property.
All of this is unfortunate. It makes us hate consumerism even more, but it makes it all the more important for us to have a basic understanding of what credit is, how it works, and how we can gain an excellent score.
We recommend the University takes our advice and consider offering resources to students who are interested in establishing credit at a young age.
College really is the opportune time to build your credit.
Spending these four years helping students learn to carefully manage a budget, pay bills on time, and apply for one or two credit cards is really the best thing for economic future of students.
Most of us will be left with the burden of paying off a hefty bill student loans, but even with this debt, a good credit score will go far.
Our classes teach us how to turn our knowledge into effective action achievement, but part of this knowledge should be learning how to be financially responsible.
Relationships with credit are complicated. You can’t live with it, and you can’t live without it.
But learning to live peacefully with credit will have you feeling relieved in the future once you sign the dotted line on the lease for your new post-college pad or that car you’ve wanted ever since you learned how to drive.