During my last 9 months of college, the timing of my remaining required classes did not allow me to work. So I quit a wonderful job of 6 years and lived off of credit cards. For the first 4 years after graduation, the balances stayed stagnant as I could only pay minimums. Then I got onto a debt consolidation program which I put 5 accounts onto. 3 of the 5 accounts were Capital One cards, and I also have an Amazon credit card and a PayPal credit card in the consolidation. (I used Amazon and PayPal credit to buy necessities and Capital One to pay rent, utilities, phone, etc.)

This is a hidden expense of college that not a whole lot of people think about- lost wages. While you are sitting in class getting a degree, you can be working and earning a living. It isn’t just the skyrocketing costs of tuition that you need to think about.

I pay my consolidator $615 a month for all 5 accounts. Today, July’s payment went through. Here are the totals due *as of today* (when I got on the program a little over a year ago, they were much higher).

Amazon: $1486

PayPal: $3408

Capital One A: 2649

Capital One B: 3397

Capital One C: $6821

Total: $17,761

The $615 is technically one of my “fixed” expenses, but since it had to do with my college debt crisis, I made a separate post about it. I wanted to bring to light the time working that you miss by being in college. I was 9 months without a job, and for a year before that, I’d even cut to part time to accommodate my education. I would have had a lot more earning power not only in the present, but my retirement would have looked better as well.

You not only learn so much on the job, but the truth of the matter is that employers look for people with experience. Experience matters more than education. When you are in a job interview, they will not ask what classes you took or what your GPA was. They will ask you specific questions about your past work experience. “Tell me about a time when you dealt with X,Y, or Z situation” on the job are by far the most asked interview questions. This is why I feel badly for young people whose parents insisted they not work through college. They cannot answer those interview questions.