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GraduationSo how to outsmart an otherwise under-whelming academic system and graduate with flying colors academically and financially? Here are five tips that have helped me.

  1. Select Your College Wisely. It’s wonderful to be able to go to the college of your dreams, but only if it’s affordable. I feel sad for the student who gets into Harvard but has to take out $150,000 in student loans to complete the degree.  There are other, better solutions. Check out my piece on top public colleges graduating their students with the least amount of debt, as well as my article on ways to get a free education. Did you know there are several colleges that give all students a free ride?
  2. Study Independently. The NYU study found that the students who performed best on the CLE studied independently. Avoid study groups where you know it’s going to just turn into a chat session. 
  3. Study Abroad. Enrolling in a study abroad program and learning a new culture and language will add a whole new layer to your college experience that will, no doubt, help you stand apart from other graduates. Learn about various programs through your school’s international exchange office.
  4. Complete Internships. Your degree counts, but it’s your work experience and internships outside the classroom that will land you a great job. Start looking into summer work programs as early as the summer before your sophomore year. It’s never too early.
  5. Graduate On Time. Or, better yet, early. Again, only 37% of full-time students finish “on time” in four years, according to a 2008 analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a D.C.-based public-policy think tank. That extra fifth year could increase your college costs by 25%.

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