I Signed My Student Loan Papers In 7 Seconds
Student loans! Much like drunk driving, they can mess up your life in a hurry. Student loans can lead to all sorts of negative repercussions: self-loathing. Becoming a “wage slave.” Eating ramen noodles long after “college life” was supposed to end. More self-loathing…
But let’s rewind for a second. This post is about my very first real-life introduction to student loans…
I had been on campus for about a month. I already had friends, an on-campus job, all of my textbooks. Not only that, but I had a pretty good routine going. I was a good student. I also worked hard at my job.
Basically, I played really good offense. I was taking charge of life.
About a month in, I got an email saying that I needed to go to the financial aid office to sign a paper. To be exact, it said, “We want you to come in and just sign a paper when you get the chance.” I was busy (as always) so my plan was to swing by on my way to work. Embarrassingly, I didn’t even know the location of the financial aid office.
After wandering around for a while, someone pointed me in the right direction. It was a staffer – the other first-year students I asked didn’t have a clue, either. I entered the dimly-lit building. It felt like it wasn’t even a part of the campus. As I would learn from a later internship, the building felt like a U.S. government office five floors below the Earth’s surface. It felt like secrets.
I gave the receptionist my name. Then, a woman in her sixties briskly walked over and said, “I’m sure you’re busy, so just sign this paper and you’ll be on your way.” I asked what it was for. Her response: “It’s just a student loan paper you need to sign. Well… if you want to keep going to college anyway.” I felt a mixture of embarrassment and need for approval. Of course, I wanted to stay at college. The lady was silent. She looked impatient, as if this was keeping her from doing real work.
I signed my student loan papers after weighing the pros and cons for a good seven seconds or so.
I may have played good offense my first year of college, but my defense was rubbish.
I now look back on that moment as a serious “what the hell” moment. I should have taken my time and asked more questions. But it all turned out well in the end. After graduating, I actually didn’t do any self-loathing. I never became a wage slave. I recovered. Still, my advice to anyone starting college: don’t put money towards anything you don’t fully understand. Warren Buffett says this about investing, and according to him, the best investment is in yourself.
College can be amazing, just watch out for pushy old ladies.