Can I opt out of the fancy gym membership?

Last month, I shared an article that encouraged us to have a plan for dealing with student debt. I think this topic resonated with a lot of people because, let’s face it, many of us are looking for ways to manage our money better and save for the future.

Today I’m sharing a funny, yet revealing, Forbes article entitled Oh, So That’s Why College is So Expensive. As you can probably infer from the title, it cleverly exposes where all of our well earned money is going when students gleefully receive their offers of admission at their colleges or universities of choice and parents begrudgingly pick up the pen to sign their lives away.

The article helps to explain, in a humorous way, why tuition costs are skyrocketing, leading to more and more students having to penny pinch in order to avoid mounting debt.

A quick tour around a modern campus these days and you’ll see state of the art facilities, new buildings popping up at every corner, and all the amenities of a trendy little village.  We are accustomed to having these modern conveniences around us, and campuses are bound to evolve with the times. Especially if these upgrades make the campus look more appealing to wide-eyed students taking their first tour of college life.

But at what cost?

Recruitment is competitive and, as consumers of education, we need to think about the investment we’re making. Unfortunately we may not always be able to opt out of all of the fancy features and facilities (I discovered that the University of Missouri, featured in this photo, boasts a ‘lazy river’ and spa in their aquatics center!) But it can’t hurt to look into it if you see some offered that you don’t want to subscribe to.

Rather, I’m simply trying to reinforce, through the humor in this article, the importance of “the plan.” That is, the career plan and the financial plan to go along with it. With a sound plan in place, not only will you avoid accumulating the extra debt that inevitably accompanies chronic indecision and/or innocent misdirection, but you will likely save precious time and avoid wasting years of your life doing something you don’t want to do. Oh, and of course, start making money and getting on with your career.

I understand that not all 19 year olds are spending their free time planning and thinking about their career plan and main priorities in life. They’re likely trying to skillfully juggle their time in order to figure out how to go out on Thursday night and not flunk their midterm on Friday morning.

And that’s just fine. Just make sure you keep an eye on your future while you’re at it.

p.s. it’s OK if you’re still deciding whether college/university is for you. Our career assessment, the JCE, suggests top jobs aligned with your interests at several different training and education levels. You can explore them all and make a decision based on what you feel fits you best.

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Virtual Job Shadow: Pharmacy Tech

Job Shadow. It’s probably the best way to get a realistic job preview. If you have a job that you’re simply curious about or have even gone so far as to declare it your future profession, I recommend you find someone who is working in this job and follow them around for a couple of hours. You will learn what it’s like to work a typical day in this field. You may learn that you would be on your feet for hours at a time, or that you wouldn’t have a chance to eat a proper lunch because you are so busy, or that you would be staring at a computer screen for most of the day. These are the types of job environment cues that can either make or break your career plan.

If you’re fortunate, you may have already had the opportunity to job shadow someone as part of your school’s curriculum, or you may have completed a co-op or other practical job orientation program. If so, I hope you fully appreciated the influence and importance of this step in determining your career path. It is simply the best way to gain exposure to a specific career.

For those of us who have not had such an opportunity handed to us on a silver platter, we’ll have to embark on our own personal quest to seek out these golden opportunities. It takes some effort to research the job, network with professionals, nail down a contact, and ask for the opportunity to job shadow. But it is completely worth it. The experience you will gain is second to none (except for ultimately landing the job, I suppose, but job shadowing will help you get your feet wet in the event that you do secure a job in your field of choice).

Today I’m posting the first in my series of posts on the virtual job shadow. I’ve featured a video of a job shadow in the pharmaceutical industry. This virtual job shadow will allow you to learn more about the job of Pharmacy Technician through the eyes of a young person who is experiencing the job first-hand. It’s the next best thing to doing it yourself. The video was filmed as part of a television program in New Zealand called “Just the Job.” It’s cute and cheeky (maybe because of the NZ accents!) and engaging.  I will be posting more virtual job shadows from this source and others so stay tuned for more…