MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) – As college students get ready to head back to school, a few simple tips can make adjusting to campus life a lot easier.
Being on your own for the very first time can be both exciting and a little scary.
University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Human Ecology Clinical Professor Christine Whelan says that's okay.
“First of all, I think it's really important for students to recognize that their peers are nervous as they are,” Whelan said. “You know they are all coming to college for the first time and meeting so many new people, so know that you are not alone in all of your anxiety. It's going to take some time to make friends, but really investing in those friendships and relationships early on is going to get you far.”
Going to class, getting involved on campus, and finding a job means many students will need to figure out how to stay organized.
“Figuring out how to get all of that done while also trying to have some fun as well is going to be a new challenge,” Whelan said. “Schedules are important. Whether it's planners, whether it's on your phone, make sure that you budget your time in a way that both fits you and gets all your work done.”
Besides busy schedules, students will also need to balance their budgets.
Tiffany Schultz, Southwest Wisconsin Regional Director with the Better Business Bureau, says if it sounds too good to be true it probably is, especially when it comes to credit cards.
“We can all be a victim of a scam, but we can be a savvy consumer as well,” Schultz said. “You are out on your own, credit cards are an easy way to spend money, and you have to watch out for those offers. Are they real or are they fake? Do your research because if it's a fake offer, there are scammers out there looking for your personal information.”
According to the Better Business Bureau's 2018 Scam Tracker Risk Report, nearly 41% of students reported a loss when exposed to a scam compared to about 28% of non-students.
Protecting your identity is just as important when applying for a job too.
In 2018, employment scams were the number one culprit of fraud targeting 18 to 25-year-olds.
Sometimes job offers can be sent to school emails with the promise of flexible hours and beyond expected pay.
“If somebody asks you for your social security number or personal information upfront, you've never met this person, and you're applying online for a job, be wary of it,” Schultz said. “Check it out.”
Schultz says other common financial scams targeting college students include:
- Too good to be true apartments
- Safe credit reports
- Scholarship and grant scams
If you want to know what kind of scams are happening in your area, the Better Business Bureau has a Scam Tracker on their website.
For parents, checking in on your college student from time to time doesn't hurt, but Whelan has one last piece of advice.
“It's great to ask your student questions about all the wonderful things they're doing at college, but this is really their time,” Whelan said. “They are adults and this is about fostering their independence, so as a professor I can tell you that I don't want to hear from parents. I want to hear from the students themselves. I want them to be advocates for their own education.”