Put your thinking cap on Joe College

Congratulations are in order for this year high school graduating class. Graduation from high school is a milestone in everyone’s life.

This completes your general education from kindergarten in grade school to senior in high school. All of us who finished High School can recall the joy we experienced walking across the stage to receive our diploma. We remember the genuine friendships we developed and the teachers who taught and encouraged us. I want to encourage all those who are graduating this year to take this opportunity and enjoy it to the fullest. Have a blast at your prom, have fun at your graduation party and enjoy your final summer as a high school student. Last but not least, I want to welcome this year graduating class to “The Real World.”


Transition from high school to “The Real World” is one of the most exciting yet daunting journeys you will ever take. You will get an opportunity to meet new people, learn new cultures, and get exposed to new environments. At the same time you will experience moments of being homesick and missing friends, family and loved ones. This will be a period of your life where you will see yourself grow physically, mentally, and spiritually.

The decisions you make after graduating from high school will shape the course of your life as an adult. Many students will join the armed forces, many will enter the job market, and others will go on to college. There is a certain level of discipline instilled in young adults who join the armed forces and young adults who enter the work force. For many young adults who go on to college, this marks the first time they will be exposed to so much freedom. No parents, employers, or drill sergeants will be responsible for overseeing and/or disciplining them to ensure certain required assignments and duties are being fulfilled. This often leads to new college students being victim to many of the distractions that surface on college campuses such as pregnancy and alcohol and drug abuse among other things. As the old saying goes, “You can lead a boy/girl to college but you can’t make them think!” Do you have the mental fortitude and dedication to withstand the various challenges you will face and earn your college degree?

Information was, is and will always be the #1 selling commodity in the world. For most students, high school represents the last time they will ever receive information for FREE. In today’s society a college education is needed to get your foot in the door of most well established companies whom pay a decent wage. A college education is very expensive and should be taken seriously. This is not the place to take certain classes because you have a friend who is taking that particular class or wonder about aimlessly your first two or three years not fully understanding what it is you want to do as an adult. The price of higher education is too expensive. Higher Education prices varies with Community Colleges averaging $3,000 per year, State Universities averaging $9,500 per year (in state) $12,000 per year (out of state), Christian Colleges averaging $15,500 per year and Private Universities averaging $22,000 per year. College tuition prices continue to rise each year.

College expenses goes beyond tuition, books, and room and board. College students are bundled down with the expense of telephone bills, credit card bills, school supplies, and personal necessities. The cost of college alone should warrant students to self-impose the discipline and focus that will be required to obtain a college degree. Most students leave college with the burden of student loan and credit card debt. Whether you finish college or not, you will be responsible to pay back your various loans. Wouldn’t it make sense to have something such as a college degree to justify the expenses you accumulated in college?

While many people view their college years as preparation for their future career. Others are more interested in the party scene. Understand that you are responsible for you. Be sure that you learn to balance fun time with study time.

Good luck to class of 2012 as you embark on your journey to fulfill your purpose in life.

(Mortgage and Money Coach Damon is the owner of ACE Financial. He can be reached at 412-856-1183.)

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