Before the Next Big Step: What to Do After Graduation

It may seem like everyone else has it all figured out, and you are undoubtedly tired of the question “What will you do after graduation?” But, if your plans are not yet set as the big ceremony approaches, be assured you are not the first or last to be in this situation.

Whether you’re a new high school grad who isn’t sure about college or you’ve finished a college degree but haven’t been able to land the job you want, here are some suggestions for what to do until you’re able to take the next big step:

Keep Working Toward Your Goals
Don’t let inertia or rejection take over your attitude. Continue working on ways to improve your chances of getting the job you want or being admitted to your desired college.

  • Continue to send out resumes or explore education options.
  • Work on your soft skills, like communication techniques, teamwork, initiative and creative thinking.
  • Review your resume and practice interviews with a professional.
  • Clean up social media accounts.

Volunteer
Opportunities abound to provide service to those who need it. Check out volunteer options that help you expand your horizons and suit your interests. Many volunteer opportunity and matching sites are available online, including:

  • Createthegood.org
  • Dosomething.org
  • Unitedway.org
  • Volunteer.gov
  • Volunteermatch.org

Work
You may have student loans to repay or other expenses, so consider working even if you haven’t found an ideal job. You can:

  • Work one or more part-time jobs that provide skills related to your career choice.
  • Try out a type of career you haven’t previously considered.
  • Provide freelance or consulting services in a field you have knowledge in.
  • Start your own company.
  • Teach something you have a passion for, such as yoga, skiing or beginning coding.

Take a Short-Term Position
Although many opportunities are designed strictly for current college students, you may be able to find paid or unpaid positions.

  • Find an internship related to your degree or in a completely different field you’d like to try out.
  • Apprenticeships may be available to recent college graduates and can offer a good chance to break into a specific job market.
  • Research assistantships are available in both scientific and non-scientific fields.

Travel
This may be your best opportunity to explore the country and the world, before you are committed to a full-time job, settle down with a partner and children, and have social and financial obligations that would prevent it.

  • Work abroad as a nanny, an English teacher or in another capacity.
  • Get a job on a cruise ship or train as an airline attendant.
  • Join a program like Peace Corps, Americorps, GoAbroad or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
  • Become a tourist or adventure guide.

Get a Degree
Even if you’ve already earned a college degree, you may want to continue your education if you have the funds and time.

  • Retrain in a different major or field.
  • Take continuing education classes.
  • Go back to school to get an advanced degree.

Have an Adventure
Like travel, an adventure may be best experienced while you don’t have too many other obligations. Options are limited only by your imagination and come with varying levels of risk and financial commitment.

  • Fix up a house.
  • Audition for a reality show.
  • Take a commercial fishing job.
  • Become a roadie for a band on tour.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Iowa Families Can Win Cash for Educational Expenses – Register by May 11

Iowa high school students and their families can enter weekly drawings for two $250 awards, and Iowa high school seniors can enter a grand prize drawing for two $1,500 awards by completing a free online tool that helps them estimate the total cost of a four-year undergraduate degree.

Learn more and enter the giveaway today!

Iowa high school students, and their parents or guardians, can enter their information for the drawings after completing the College Funding Forecaster until May 11. The free online tool provided by Iowa Student Loan uses information from students’ freshman year financial aid award packets, as well as outside scholarships and grants and family savings and earnings, to project estimated costs, funding gaps and potential student loan debt over four years.

“We want to help families make the connection between first-year costs and the total financial investment in a college education,” said Steve McCullough, president and CEO of Iowa Student Loan. “This tool helps them see how their costs might increase, what happens when one-year scholarship awards are exhausted, and how the family and student contributions can play a role in reducing overall costs.”

The tool allows families to customize both expenses and available funding to adjust results for changes in students’ situations over the four years. The results show yearly and total estimated costs of attendance, available funding and projected funding gaps. The tool also provides informational tips on how to reduce costs and potential debt.

After viewing their results, users have the opportunity to enter the drawings. Two names will be drawn each week to receive $250 awards for educational expenses. In a grand prize drawing, two names will also be drawn to each receive $1,500 for the students’ college expenses in fall 2017. The grand prizes will be paid directly to the students’ colleges.

For details and complete rules for the giveaway, visit www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Giveaway. Or, to begin the College Funding Forecaster and enter the giveaway, go to www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Forecaster.

By: Iowa Student Loan

The Graduation Checklist for Parents

This milestone for your student can mean a lot of work for you. Use this checklist to bring some order to the chaos.

□ Work with your student to be sure they’ve completed the administrative steps to officially graduate.

  • Remind your student to follow through on these tips for college students and high school graduates.
  • Your student should receive information on how and where to obtain a cap and gown—along with any special stoles, pins, tassels or regalia—for the ceremony.

□ Consider mementos of the occasion.

  • Your student will have the opportunity to order class rings, yearbooks and other products to mark this important milestone. Check for deadlines.
  • Graduation is also a good opportunity for family and individual photos. Many photographers specialize in senior portraits.

□ Make any reservations required.

  • If you will be traveling to a college graduation, you may find that hotel rooms and transportation options are booked quickly and up to a year in advance.
  • Graduation party venues may also become scarce depending on location and number of other graduates on your desired date.
  • If you will order baked goods, catering, tents or other services, be sure to start that process early.

□ Invite friends and family to the party.

  • Work with your student to plan a celebration everyone will enjoy.
  • If guests ask what they can gift to your high school graduate, consider suggesting contributions to a college saving account or a gift card that can be used for textbooks and materials.
  • Don’t forget to have thank-you cards on hand for your student to send shortly after the celebration.

□ Start planning the move.

  • Whether your college student is moving to a new job or returning home for a while, he or she may need assistance. See our moving checklist for college graduates.
  • As your high school graduate prepares to move to campus, keep a copy of the college’s suggested packing list handy. Also see some items you may want to take care of before fall term begins.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Thirty Students Receive $2,000 College Scholarship

High school seniors earned the scholarship after demonstrating financial know-how.

High school seniors from across the state of Iowa earned $2,000 for college while learning important financial literacy skills through the 2017–2018 Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship sponsored by Iowa Student Loan.

“The financial tips I learned through this process will help me throughout my college years and into my future career.” ―Sadie Brockett, a senior at Gladbrook-Reinbeck.

More than 4,000 Iowa high school seniors registered for the scholarship between October 2017 and February 2018. Of those, nearly 2,000 completed two online financial literacy tools and a related assessment to qualify for one of 30 college scholarships. More than 70 students tied for a top score on the assessment. The 30 recipients were those who received the highest scores on an independently judged essay on what “responsible borrowing” meant to them.

Christine Hensley, Iowa Student Loan board chair, said that the Student Loan Game Plansm and ROCI Reality Check tools, which participants are required to experience to qualify for the scholarship are designed to help students and families avoid the pitfalls of heavy student loan debt.

“Student loan debt must be carefully considered to be manageable later in life,” said Hensley. “The components to qualify for this scholarship help our state’s students understand the impact that student loan debt can have, and we’re pleased that so many high school seniors are exposed to these important lessons through the scholarship process.”

“The Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge allowed me to expand upon what my high school has already taught me about college spending. I now understand specifically my college expenses and career outlook.” ―Regan Sylvester, a senior at Sioux Central High School.

Each recipient’s high school will also receive a $500 award to improve or implement financial literacy and scholarship programs.

Details are not yet finalized for the 2018–2019 Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship. Interested families should watch for information about the program at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/SeniorScholarship.

Scholarship Recipients
The following students each earned a $2,000 scholarship. Iowa Student Loan will send scholarship funds directly to recipients’ colleges.

Student Name Student High School Student Name Student High School
Ote Albrecht Le Mars Timber Kent Clarke
Sydney Alt Lone Tree Ashley Koos Marquette Catholic
Heather Baier Southeast Polk Carrington Kuehl Indianola
Ryan Bonthius Regina Grant Meiners Carroll
Sadie Brockett Gladbrook-Reinbeck Jeffrey Morische Osage
Zachary Calvert Dowling Catholic Josh Pulse Pleasantville
Emma Carlson Des Moines Christian Megan Rex Oelwein
Matthew Current Clinton Elly Schuemann Linn-Mar
Jacee De Vries West Lyon Rebecca Sharpe Norwalk
Katelyn Finnegan St. Edmond Robyn Stillmunkes Bellevue
Morgan Fritz Lake Mills Regan Sylvester Sioux Central
Maci Gambell Pekin Shawn Thacker West (Iowa City)
Megan Grimm Prairie Luke Thompson Okoboji
Kayla Hospodarsky Alburnett Ethan Trepka West (Iowa City)
Alyssa Jaeger Springville Allison Zelle Linn-Mar

By: Iowa Student Loan

Student Loan Pro Tip: First Year Salary (Video)

Borrowing more than you can comfortably afford to pay back is setting yourself up for a difficult financial future. A simple rule to follow is not to borrow more to pay for college than your expected first year salary.

To learn more about student loans and avoiding debt, check out our Smart Borrowing resources: http://www.iowastudentloan.org/smartborrowing.

By: Iowa Student Loan