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Students Beware: You’ve Got a Bullseye on your Back!

Everything I have written about up to this point had to do with accounting education. For this post  I decided to break away from that pattern just to give a juicy ” flava” to this blog. The journey that leads you to a college degree will be filled with opportunities and threats. This post will focus on the latter.  With the myriad of threats out there, I decided to square on the ones that are the most common to most if not all campus experiences.  As time goes, I will be reporting on more threats. But for now, let’s take a look at some services provided or offered on college campuses that pose a potential threat to your college experience. I welcome all criticisms and contributions!

The College Bookstore:  A threat to your wallet! Unless you have no other choices, do not buy nor sell your textbooks to your college bookstore. Even renting textbooks at a “fraction” of the list price might not be a good value proposition. You would hope that your college bookstore would have the most wallet sensitive prices but nah nah! Whether you buy a new or used textbook from the campus bookstore, you are likely to pay at least 100% more than you would if you purchased your textbooks from the internet. The college textbook store will also give you 35%-75% less for your textbooks than you would have gotten if you sold your textbooks online. Some internet textbook marketplaces where you can buy and sell your textbooks are Amazon.com, Half.com, Ebay.com, Alibris.com, Textbooksrus.com, and Abebooks.com. The process for buying and selling is self explanatory and, in most cases, is very user friendly. If you want to speed up your online textbook shopping, have the ISBN ready then run a query on Fetchbook.info and you will get a comparison of new and used textbooks among 150 stores! I recommend using the ISBN because it is a unique identifier for your textbooks. Because you are buying from the internet, you want to order your textbooks at least 15 days before the start of the school term to allow ample time for your textbooks to arrive on time. If you are wondering how find the textbooks’ ISBN, head to your college bookstore and copy it from the back of the book. If you happen to live out of town, contact your course instructor and ask him to forward you the author(s)’ name(s), the title, the edition, and possibly the ISBN of the textbook assigned for the course. Most instructors won’t bother looking up the ISBN for you but with the other three pieces of information, you will be able to buy the correct textbook. Once the semester is over, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to sell your textbooks. Whatever you decide to do,  just do not feed yourself to your college textbook-minator!

Credit cards offers: A threat to your credit worthiness! Before signing up for a credit card, take the time to consult with your parents. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the traps that credit cards companies have viciously laid for you. When I refer to credit cards companies, that also encompasses the ones offered by the university operated credit union. If you are concerned with establishing a stellar credit history, talk to your parents and see how they can help you get a secured credit card. A secured or prepaid credit card is a line of credit that is guaranteed by your own funds however it provides the same credit reporting benefits as your regular credit card. Once you have been able to successfully manage your secure card for about two consecutive years or more then you can start contemplating about signing up for a regular credit card. Like with everything else, you want to do your homework by shopping around and also by investigating the credit cards’ companies reputation. The last thing that any sane human being would want upon graduating from college is to be saddled with credit card debt and carry along a less than desirable credit history.

University sponsored student health insurance: The underrated threat!I won’t go too much in detail for this one. A reasonable number university sponsored student insurance policies provide very limited benefits. Bankrate.com, the web’s leading aggregator of financial rate information, recommends asking the following questions before signing up for any kind of health insurances:

  • Evaluating the health insurance plan: How much are the premiums? How much, if any, will the employer pay? What’s covered and what is out of pocket? What’s the annual maximum benefit? What’s the maximum lifetime policy benefit? What is the annual deductible for yourself? For your family? What’s the co-payment for various services? What are the costs of services within the network? What are the costs of services out of network? Which prescriptions are covered and for how much? Does it pay for all or just a portion of brand name drugs? Are the medicines that you need in the formulary (a fancy word for approved prescription drugs)? Is there an annual cap on out-of-pocket expenses in a year?
  • Examining the health insurance company: If there’s a list of preferred providers, are your doctors on the list? Which hospitals can you use? How difficult is it to see a specialist or get a second opinion? Would you need a referral? Does the plan cover preventative care? Does the plan cover extras such as eye care or chiropractic visits? If you’ve gone more than 63 days without coverage, how long would the policy exclude any existing problems? ( One year is the maximum)

As you can see, there are a lot of questions to ask but answering them will allow you to determine if your school sponsored student insurance policy will come handy when you get ill or suffer an injury. Insurance companies understand that college students carry a very low risk when compared to other age groups. Consequently, the premiums are very low but with them come along very limited benefits. Most college students assume that because the university is sponsoring the health insurance policy therefore it must offer decent benefits. Unfortunately, many institutions out there omit to perform due diligence when it comes to designing an appropriate health insurance policy for the campus population. Luckily, you the student can perform your own due diligence by asking the tough questions. Oh by the way, you might want to direct all those questions to the insurance company because in almost every case your school will refuse to explain the policy to you.

Most college student enter the world’s of higher education with little to no life experiences. That’s the single most important reason why university students are  often sought after by a host of predators. My advice to all college students is to always seek the unbiased opinion of a more experienced person before embarking into any kind of commitments.

3 Comments

  1. Comment by KG:

    Great Post. Very useful.

  2. Comment by Brandon Brasch:

    Great post thank you so much for taking the time to share.

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