Author Topic: I'm starting college and kinda worried  (Read 4344 times)

smallpeachfuzz

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I'm starting college and kinda worried
« on: August 17, 2016, 06:37:56 PM »
I'm 18 and I'm about to go on one of the biggest transitions yet: I'm now going to a public college as a freshman. It has tuition of ~$14k, they estimate a cost of attendance of ~$34k including board, food, transportation, etc. for the first year. I goofed up on applying to scholarships and stuff this year but I intend to reduce that cost for the other 3 years through scholarships and frugality.

My parents want me to go to medschool, which will cost about $250k for the 4 years. Afterwards, I'll be doing residency from 3 to 5 years (depending on specialty) getting paid $45~$50k/yr before I can get a "doctor's salary".
Personally, I'm fine with that option, health has always been something important to me, and I've sought to understand the human body, and specifically the brain. I have not done any shadowing/internships yet, but I intend to do so Freshman year.
On the other hand, engineering seems like a pretty cool thing to be doing as well. I'm somewhat interested in Mechanical, Biological or Chemical engineering and will probably also do internships/shadowing for that if I can. I just don't know if the ridiculous salary of the doctor is worth almost all my 20s and a huge student debt. This choice is what I would like you guys to give me information on. I know you probably won't have information on the jobs themselves, but you guys can give me information on this choice relevant to FIRE.

My parents are decently rich, and they are offering to cover all of my college expenses. But the thing is, they are also saving up for my sister's education and lavish weddings for us (since in their culture, it is absolutely important to host a grand wedding). I don't know if they will be able to manage, and they are vague about how much money is in the bank and how much they'll be needing for other stuff.

Let me clarify my doubts, I'm bad at asking for help in a clear manner:

Do I spend extra time and parents' money to become a doctor, or should I try to go into engineering instead? Assuming I like both of those options equally interms of how good they make me feel (this I can ascertain only through internships and the like), which would be better for FIRE?

How do I budget when my income is highly variable? As long as I ask for money with legitimate reasons, my parents will probably give it.

Should I be accumulating wealth in college or defray the costs my parents are paying?
As someone without a fulltime job/income, should I even try to accumulate wealth?

What DIY/survivor skills, if any, should I try to obtain while in college?

I would greatly appreciate any other general tips you guys have about saving/accumulating money while at college or even beyond. If you guys know anything about study abroad, good jobs, free food, good professional development that I can take advantage of while in college, that would be awesome. Sadly for me, MMM does not seem to speak as much to college students, he seems to speak to those who've already graduated (this may be false, I've only read the articles up to August 2012 since I resolved to start at the beginning)
« Last Edit: August 17, 2016, 06:39:46 PM by smallpeachfuzz »

forumname123

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2016, 06:47:51 PM »
Off topic, but you're clearly very intelligent and mature for your age, so don't feel the need to limit yourself to the typical doctor/engineer/etc career path in order to make enough money to have a good life.

Focus on figuring out what YOU WANT to do (keeping in mind that it will almost certainly change over time), and go from there. There is much more to life than a ridiculously high salary, and you're right to question whether or not the sacrifice is worth it.

I know that doesn't answer any of your questions, but it's something I wish more people told me when I was entering college to study engineering...

J_Stache

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2016, 07:02:05 PM »
Other people will probably comment on the other parts.  I went to engineering school.  A few of my friends studied biomedical engineering and then went on to med school.  Sounds like this may be a good option for you.  Get the engineering degree and then you have the option of med school or a well paying engineering job.

Dee18

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2016, 07:11:41 PM »
During your first year you can take courses that will work for either major while you think more about what you want to do.  Don't go to Med school just because your parents want that.  I have a friend who did that and truly regrets it.

As for money at college: if you are living in a dorm get a full meal plan and do not eat out.  That is the number one thing college students waste money on.  After you settle in at school, you can decide if you want a part time job, depending on how much time you need to study. Buy your books used (always check slugbooks.com or similar sites) or rent them.  The retail prices can be insane, especially for science books. I can't imagine how living expenses, books and transportation could come to $20,000 per year.  My daughter is at college now and her non-tuition expenses are $12,000/ year including everything.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2016, 08:17:12 AM by Dee18 »

LeRainDrop

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2016, 07:36:36 PM »
Hi, smallpeachfuzz, glad to have you join the forums!  Both engineering and medical studies are excellent career choices.  I would simply encourage you to explore both and make an independent decision of which interests you more as you continue to gain more knowledge of both fields.  There are some medical doctors on our boards, but seemingly many more engineer-types.  As a small bit of data, you may be interested to see the poll the MMM put on his blog in September 2013:  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/09/17/a-one-question-survey-who-are-the-mustachians/

Pigeon

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2016, 07:38:30 PM »
You'd be fine financially with either of these careers.  You should figure out what you want to do, and do that.  Don't go into something you don't want to do.  I know several people who went to med school because of family pressure and I don't recommend that.  You really need to want to be a doctor.  There are other fields that pay plenty and you can't live your life entirely for your parents' dreams.

As an aside, a good way to cut down living expenses after your freshman year is to try to get an RA position.  In many colleges it gets you a free single room and free or significantly reduced board.  The work required in exchange isn't onerous and some of it is conducive to getting a lot of studying done.

abhe8

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2016, 07:44:48 PM »
I agree with the advice to get the engineering degree and then apply for med school, if that is what you decide. If not, you have a very marketable skill/degree in engineering.

This is what I did, and ended up going the med school route. I think having the engineering degree helped me get into med school and it didn't take any more time in college. I'm not sure it will enable FIRE any faster, but I love my work.

PFHC

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2016, 08:46:29 PM »
Hey spf! Glad to see someone your age posting here. Pretty rad. You should do a journal and let us watch your path. It certainly seems it will be worth watching.
My parents want me to go to medschool
Do what you want. Not what others want for you. That rarely leads to happiness.
If you don't know what you want is, then take the time to figure it out. A gap year, especially spent gainfully employed in one of the prospective fields, is wildly beneficial.

Quote
Do I spend extra time and parents' money to become a doctor, or should I try to go into engineering instead? Assuming I like both of those options equally in terms of how good they make me feel (this I can ascertain only through internships and the like), which would be better for FIRE?

If any of us could answer this question, we'd be sitting on an island we owned sipping mai tais. :) Honestly, both could be fantastic or fail for FIRE. But, the real answer lies in what motivates you. Are you interested in working with people, machines, chemicals, industry, innovation, and on and on. Discover this and you will have a clearer path.

Quote
How do I budget when my income is highly variable? As long as I ask for money with legitimate reasons, my parents will probably give it.
You will be a student. Live like you have no money, because you don't. I would warn heavily against relying on your parents. It makes your Mustache muscles flabby and soft. Do it on your own. There's no better way to learn how to be frugal then by being forced to be.

Quote
Should I be accumulating wealth in college or defray the costs my parents are paying?
Yes. To both. There are ample opportunities to make money for a college kid. I started a handyman service and could have worked every night and weekend of the year. I also repaired bikes, house sat, acted as a tutor, and on and on.

Quote
What DIY/survivor skills, if any, should I try to obtain while in college?
All of them. The more the better. Here's a short list:
  • cooking
  • finances
  • basic repair skills: car, home, bike, etc
  • Excel
  • coding
  • attracting a life partner
  • how to be a good human
  • making friends
  • having as much fun as is possible
Quote
I would greatly appreciate any other general tips you guys have about saving/accumulating money while at college or even beyond. If you guys know anything about study abroad, good jobs, free food, good professional development that I can take advantage of while in college, that would be awesome.
Its deceptively simple, and impossibly hard. Just be a bad ass. Work your ass off... both harder and smarter than everyone else. That works in college, after, in retirement, in relationships, in space, whatever. It works. Read as much as you can: books, websites, and this forum - which is enormous and chock full of great, and terrible, advice. If you get stumped, come back here and post a question. Keep your mind engaged, your head up, and all of this will fall in place.

Best of luck, spf! You're going to do great!

JLee

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2016, 09:18:51 PM »
I will add another voice to the 'do what you want to do' chorus.

ariapluscat

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2016, 08:39:07 AM »
as a fellow youth, i'm happy to talk or give advice on college. you can pm me
the questions you have are really going to depend on your school and your priorities. i don't think anyone can clearly answer them based on your post and likely your own goals will change a lot in just a year or two.

the main things that matter are your scholarships and gpa which feed into each other.

Miss Piggy

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2016, 09:04:54 AM »
My parents want me to go to medschool,
.
.
.
On the other hand, engineering seems like a pretty cool thing to be doing as well. I'm somewhat interested in Mechanical, Biological or Chemical engineering ...

I would suggest you take another look at these two sentences you wrote.

GuitarStv

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2016, 09:42:23 AM »
While I certainly was tight with cash and lived within my budget at school, I wouldn't try to use the time you're learning to stress over saving money.  (Note - I'm not saying rack up debt and party.  I'm saying don't worry about trying to start retirement savings.)  Your job at school is to absorb everything you can.  It's a full time job.  You'll get so much more money after graduation and when you start your career than you had as a student that there just isn't enough potential benefit to doing anything that might potentially slow down your learning for the sake of a few bucks.

bacchi

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2016, 09:43:26 AM »
If you decide to study engineering, whether you go to med school or not, you can make money from a co-op semester your junior year. This will also give you a better idea what an engineer's day is like. Good pay, usually another city with subsidized housing, and learning -- what could be better?

Cranky

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2016, 10:02:44 AM »
You should see how you feel about med school/engineering at the end of your freshman year. Take those math and science classes! Join the pre-med club, and the engineering club. You'll have a much better idea of what you want to do by next May.

And remember - many, many more people start their freshman year as a pre-med than finish up in that same track.

2Cent

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2016, 10:06:21 AM »
One thing to do is, build a network of good people. Friends that have similar goals, but also teachers that can help you. I've seen friends be pulled in by the "Party now, worry later" crowd, and even though they didn't become like that, they learned some bad habits there, and wasted a lot of time and money.

Good contacts on the other hand will pass on opportunities that you didn't even know of. And may even introduce you to more good contacts.

Telecaster

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2016, 11:53:05 AM »
On the other hand, engineering seems like a pretty cool thing to be doing as well. I'm somewhat interested in Mechanical, Biological or Chemical engineering and will probably also do internships/shadowing for that if I can. I just don't know if the ridiculous salary of the doctor is worth almost all my 20s and a huge student debt. This choice is what I would like you guys to give me information on. I know you probably won't have information on the jobs themselves, but you guys can give me information on this choice relevant to FIRE.

You don't have to decide this minute.   A chemical engineering degree would almost certainly meet the coursework requirements for medical school.  If not, it should be close enough that just a few electives would get you in the door.    You have a few years think about this before you have to make a decision. 

FLBiker

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2016, 02:56:56 PM »
Focus on figuring out what YOU WANT to do (keeping in mind that it will almost certainly change over time), and go from there. There is much more to life than a ridiculously high salary, and you're right to question whether or not the sacrifice is worth it.

+100

Goldielocks

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2016, 03:36:39 PM »
Focus on your freshman year.  Choose classes that could lead to either choice, or a new option in sciences.  Freshman year in sciences, away from home, is actually quite difficult an adjustment and needs your full attention.

Start your own wealth building, for certain.   You may need to pay for your own graduate school. (or if you choose something your parents don't like)
Gratefully accept your parents' help and be frugal and focused on education.  They have chosen to save this money for your education, use it, but wisely.

It's okay to change your mind on what you want to do....  better in the next couple of years that when you are 25, that is for certain!

This is 100% my opinion, it looks like you have great track ahead of you, IF you stop stressing about things too far in the future.

mm1970

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2016, 03:54:01 PM »
I agree with the advice to get the engineering degree and then apply for med school, if that is what you decide. If not, you have a very marketable skill/degree in engineering.

This is what I did, and ended up going the med school route. I think having the engineering degree helped me get into med school and it didn't take any more time in college. I'm not sure it will enable FIRE any faster, but I love my work.
The best man at our wedding has a BS in Chem E and is an orthopedic surgeon.

GizmoTX

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2016, 04:23:55 PM »
I agree with the advice to get the engineering degree and then apply for med school, if that is what you decide. If not, you have a very marketable skill/degree in engineering.

Our son graduated last May with degrees in Electrical Engineering & Math; his engineering class flag bearer (highest GPA & also valedictorian of our son's high school class) got an EE degree with biomedical specialization & is going on to medical school. Engineering is a great pre-med curriculum because it is about problem solving, but it is somewhat unusual because it is difficult & medical school requires a very high college GPA.

Our son is going back this fall for his MS EE in the next 2 semesters doing the 4+1 program at his university, & has a full ride thanks to being awarded a graduate merit scholarship & teaching assistantship. Your GPA counts!

ender

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2016, 04:46:47 PM »
Focus on figuring out what YOU WANT to do (keeping in mind that it will almost certainly change over time), and go from there. There is much more to life than a ridiculously high salary, and you're right to question whether or not the sacrifice is worth it.

+100

And realistically, that "ridiculously high salary" that doctors get is really not that great when you compare it against the "decently high" ones engineers get once you include all the extra costs of med school and huge opportunity costs associated with nearly a decade more of school.

Net worth now is about $250k. If I had gone the doctor route, I would barely be halfway through residency and likely have a -$200k or worse net worth. And that's having frittered away a few years in grad school to boot!

frugaldrummer

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2016, 05:01:30 PM »
Do what you ENJOY doing, for sure.  Medical school and residency is a very long difficult haul - I don't regret it because I love medicine, but honestly, I would say only do it if you LOVE it.

Also you don't have to have a biology degree to go to medical school.  I had a classmate who had a degree in English; my ex had a degree in philosophy.  You DO need to have the prerequisite math, chemistry and biology requirements, so most people do a biology or chemistry degree because those pre-reqs fit neatly into those degrees, but you can have any undergraduate major so long as you also take those med school pre-reqs.

If you think you'd like engineering, try some engineering classes......if it's a good fit, just take the premed reqs around that engineering major and you'll have all your options open.

Don't feel like you have to have it all figured out right now - I didn't decide on medical school until I was two years into a graduate biology degree.

And THIS:  MOST IMPORTANT:  find someone who is already practicing in each field and ask them to let you shadow them for a day or two.  The REALITY of working in one of these fields is very very different from the CLASSROOM study of these concepts.  Don't wait until you're halfway through medical school to realize you don't like touching people for instance!  Try it on for size EARLY.

JLee

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #22 on: August 18, 2016, 07:11:17 PM »
Focus on figuring out what YOU WANT to do (keeping in mind that it will almost certainly change over time), and go from there. There is much more to life than a ridiculously high salary, and you're right to question whether or not the sacrifice is worth it.

+100

And realistically, that "ridiculously high salary" that doctors get is really not that great when you compare it against the "decently high" ones engineers get once you include all the extra costs of med school and huge opportunity costs associated with nearly a decade more of school.

Net worth now is about $250k. If I had gone the doctor route, I would barely be halfway through residency and likely have a -$200k or worse net worth. And that's having frittered away a few years in grad school to boot!

The time in school is an excellent point if FIRE is the ultimate goal -- that extra 6 years (?) in school/training could get you over halfway to FI in another career.

ender

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Re: I'm starting college and kinda worried
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2016, 06:24:57 AM »
And realistically, that "ridiculously high salary" that doctors get is really not that great when you compare it against the "decently high" ones engineers get once you include all the extra costs of med school and huge opportunity costs associated with nearly a decade more of school.

Net worth now is about $250k. If I had gone the doctor route, I would barely be halfway through residency and likely have a -$200k or worse net worth. And that's having frittered away a few years in grad school to boot!

The time in school is an excellent point if FIRE is the ultimate goal -- that extra 6 years (?) in school/training could get you over halfway to FI in another career.

Most residencies are 3-5 years, so combined with 4 years of medical school... it's 7-9 years extra. At the cost of $200k or whatever med school required (ignoring the lack of life during residency). I'm curious enough about this to start another thread, too :-)