Life After College: Where Do I Even Start?

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Colorado State University Gen Y conference
Collegian.comKyle Moyer (3rd from left) at Why Hire Gen Y?
Hi. My name is Kyle.

I'm 24. I am a musician, a historian, and a car enthusiast.

Oh, I almost forgot, I also have $132,452.96 in student loan debt.

I graduated from Belmont University in 2012 with a BS in History and a Minor in Education. I worked very hard in school. I got good grades. I made the Dean's list. I presented at conferences, performed on National Public Radio with Belmont's elite guitar ensemble, and was an active participant in the student body. I did all of this while working part-time during the school year and full-time during summers. Little did I know how much of a burden my education would become.

I recently was a panelist at a conference called "Why Hire Gen Y." It was hosted by Colorado State University in my hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado. I shared the panel with five other people around my age. I easily held the largest student loan debt of all of us. In fact, I might have had as much as everyone else combined.

That was the catalyst for this blog. It became clear that I had a story to tell and my insights might just be able to help somebody.

My story starts with my decision to go to an out-of-state private university.

Belmont University was a very exciting choice for an 18-year-old aspiring musician. Located in Nashville, Music City, USA, Belmont offered me a small music scholarship to attend as a Commercial Guitar Major. I jumped at the chance, it was to be the beginning of a great scholastic and personal adventure.

Cost was a factor from the very beginning.

At right around $35,000, making a decision to attend Belmont was a big one for a kid from a lower-middle class family. After talking with my parents, consulting people who had knowledge of the school, and discovering that I could get a private student loan to cover the costs, it seemed doable. I took the plunge.

College was an amazing time in my life.

I quickly realized that Commercial Guitar was not a degree I wanted, but I felt at home at Belmont and in Nashville. I wanted to stay there. After considering a variety of other majors, I decided to study history because it was always the one subject that made my K-12 schooling interesting. History seemed an obvious choice for me and it is a choice I still stand by.

Enough about college.

The ultimate point is that I earned an expensive piece of paper, a token of adulthood, which I was told from a very early age meant I could enter the workforce.

And enter the workforce I have.

In the most anticlimactic fashion I managed to secure a job cooking in a hospital cafeteria a few months out of school. My plan, which unfortunately is still in progress, was to work at the hospital as an in-between to a career suited to my education and interests. This, as of yet, has not happened.

The hammer really came down in spectacular fashion at the six-month post-graduation date.

Still living in my parents' house to save money, which hasn't changed, and working full-time in a delightful assortment of shifts (mornings, nights, graveyards, splits-you get the picture), I discovered that the minimum monthly payments on my loans would be roughly $1,470. I was in shock. I still am.

Since I was a young student I have heard people say that college is expensive, but student loans have low payments to allow people to afford it. Clearly in my case this is not true and I have been struggling to deal with it ever since...

> Career Coach Marty Nemko's advice for Kyle, or any other liberal arts major who loves to perform.

> Shannon McLay outlines the perils of private student loans and offers one way to defer payment.

What advice would you give to Kyle?
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