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Top 6 Things to Know Before Going to College

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Your college years are some of the most exciting ones of your life. You can break away, set your own rules, and take advantage of your opportunities. What could be better?

Actually, one thing can make it better—learning some valuable lessons now so you can make the most of those college years. Don’t trip yourself up by getting a credit card or partying every other night. There are better ways to make your time in school worthwhile.

Check out these six things to know before heading to class.

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1. Put Good Habits in Place

College is where you set the tone for the rest of your life. If you live on a budget, work hard, and learn responsibility now, you’ll create habits that will serve you well and pay off as you get older.

2. That Free T-Shirt Isn’t Free

Credit card companies offer a free T-shirt or some other gift when you sign up for their card. But that free shirt will seem pretty costly if you rack up fees and charges on the card. Stay away from their gift and save yourself a huge headache.

Related: 3 Signs You're Giving Your Credit Too Much Credit

3. Find Out What Your Degree Really Makes

You may enjoy art history or foreign studies, but can you make a living from them? Talk to people who have jobs in the fields you’re interested in so you can learn about your degree’s earning potential. That can help you decide how to turn your calling into a career.

4. Don’t Live Like Your Parents When You Graduate

It took your mom and dad 30 years to afford their standard of living. When they started out, they rented a small apartment, ate frozen dinners, and drove beater cars. Follow their lead and work your way up in lifestyle. That nice vehicle or big house feels better when you’ve earned it.

5. Your Work Ethic Means More Than Your School Choice

It’s fine to attend a private university if you can cash-flow it. But don’t take out student loans because you think you must attend a certain school to get a good job. Your work ethic and enthusiasm are what make your future boss excited about hiring you.

6. You Can Have Fun and Still Work

College doesn’t have to be all work/no play or no work/all play. If you budget your time carefully and stick to a schedule, you can enjoy yourself and still get your degree. Keep your social life in perspective and your education in focus.

Learning these lessons early gives you a big head start on your post-college life. If you work hard, spend wisely, and live responsibly, you set yourself up for success once you graduate.

What could be better than that?

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