Whether you’re a first time freshman, a returning student, or a senior, ready to venture into the world of work, you know that you’re about to embark on one of the greatest, yet most challenging periods of your life: college. People joke about the trials and tribulations of a college student, but the jokes aren’t funny when you’re living on a shoestring budget day after day, and you aren’t expecting a big fat bonus at the end of the month. Don’t worry, though.

You can still make college fun, stay on budget, and graduate without too much debt. You just have to plan, use your resources, and ask for advice when you need it.

In order to prioritize what your “needs” and “wants” are this year, start by making a list of all the things you need: food, shelter, medical care, clothing, and educational materials. These are the important things that you cannot live without. Make sure you meet with your financial aid counselor and your student success adviser to have all of your necessary expenses covered for the year. In addition to helping you map out your college expenses, your financial literacy counselor can help you set a budget you can live with and find local resources to meet your “needs”.

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Once those things are covered, you need to make a list of your “wants”. Your “wants” can be anything you would like to have above what you need for college: fast food, coffee, snacks, movie tickets, etc. You know what makes you happy and what gives you the extra incentive to get your work done. You have to be able to build in little treats to reward yourself every now and then. So, make sure you think about the special things that make you feel good after the end of a long week. College is just like working, but without the paycheck.

Now that you have listed your “needs” and “wants”, you need to figure out where you’re going to get your extra money. If you haven’t checked into work study on campus, you can always do that. There are part-time jobs all over campus that will earn you that little bit of extra money you need to meet unexpected expenses or to provide you with a way to pay for your “wants”. Also, ask your professors for advice. Some professors hire students to babysit, take care of their pets when they travel, tutor other students, and clean. Be sure to check out part-time jobs in the area, too. Many local stores and restaurants are eager to hire Park students. It’s good for you and good for them. Many students with cars are also learning how to become “UBER” drivers in the Kansas City area. The possibilities are really limitless, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are in charge of your happiness and Park University is here to help you achieve your goals.

You can and will be successful this year! Let’s do it together. Plan well, work hard, ask for advice. You can do this, and we’ve got your back. Welcome to Park!