Work smarter not harder. That was what I told people when I would joke about not owning any textbooks. The truth? I couldn’t afford those million dollar books. I remember hearing the complaints from my middle and upper class counterparts and wondered, if they complain about not being able to buy all their books for the semester then how could I when my mom was only making $10,000 a year? It was a weird feeling because I had to laugh it off and joke about not wanting to own books when in reality there was no way I could even if I wanted to. I had to learn how to survive.
Here are three tips to survive college when you come from an impoverished background:
- Network, Network, Network, Network.
This is not a play on Rihanna’s song. I had to do a good job of chopping it up with my classmates. I made friends quickly so that I could feel a part of something and feel that I belonged. It turned out that these friends always had my back with resources. Whether it was letting me borrow a book for a couple of nights or helping me through some tough moments when I felt out of place. They were there. Definitely make friends, especially those you are in classes with. Pro tip: You may only get to borrow their books early in the assignment period or hella late (day before it is due) so plan accordingly!
- Campus Clubs and Orgs
You all probably already know this but I can’t tell you how much money I saved on buying t-shirts by joining clubs. They give them out like promoter cards in Vegas, so take advantage. There is also food at these meet-ups and we all love free food. The last thing I will point out is that there are organizations on campus to help first generation, and students who are poor. Don’t be afraid to ask. The Campus Diversity and Inclusion center at my school definitely came in clutch with my $300 intermediate accounting book.
- Stay Hustlin’
It’s not going to be easy but don’t give up. Every year was the same routine. I would say that I couldn’t afford being here (tuition was $50,000/year) and somehow I made it work. I wrote letters to my scholarship providers and asked for more due to my circumstances. I took out some extra loans to cover small expenses. I went around my dorm room after every semester and collected all the books from people they couldn’t sell back to the campus bookstore and would sell it for them and cut them a commission. You have to stay hustlin’. There is no way around this!
I literally was broke, and had a 2.6 GPA out of high school – so you know I was only getting need based scholarships. If I can make it, then so can you. Stay tuned for more of the ColorFull Experience! If you need something to keep you busy then check out the must haves in your life here!
(Eddy is a Certified Public Accountant who works at Pandora and helped plant the seed for ColorFull. He has also founded Lite App, a personal finance application, and a small consulting firm to help Latin(x) and Black owned businesses scale and succeed)