As a highschool student I was told when I turned 16 I needed to get a job and start saving and paying for my own things. I had to pay for half of my phone bill and both for my own gas when I got a car (senior year of highschool) and for the insurance. I was given a car that I used for a year and then sold for a few hundred dollars and bought my own car for 1,500. No, its not a nice car but it gets me from A to B. I drive a baby blue ’91 century buick that has a smashed front. Lets talk about the epitomy of a ghetto car. Not only does it roll big with 6 seat belts but it also is rusted. The thing is, I’m proud of this car, because it is all mine. I paid for it, I continue to pay for it monthly (gas and insurance) and because I worked hard for it. I have nothing to be ashamed of, most of my friends cars are on loan or their parents gave it to them.
When I started working My dad and I sat down and talked about checking accounts and saving accounts and credit cards (how I didnt need one) and how to think for life in advance.
I was told that I always needed to have at least 100 dollars in my checking account for emergencies and was not alloud to go below it. My dad laid out a schedule for me showing if I worked A, B, or C amount of hours and decided to save X, Y, or Z, percent of the money made each month (minus my needs/expenses; gas, insurance, phone) where I would be at for saving for school. He updated the list as I made the money and showed me what schools I could afford for college depending on what I made and saved. He said that he would match whatever I saved. This was motivation to work hard to pay for college. Obviously giving up free time during school breaks and the summer to work for the future.
I definitely could have spent a lot more time saving and preparing for college but its a hard thing to do when you love highschool and arent really sure what college is like. When you think about college in highschool, at least as I imagined it all, to be just academics when saving for it.
I hope that my siblings have seen from me that working hard first, ends up paying off and second, is really smart. Looking back, if I would have known what college would be like in highschool I would have saved a lot more to have more fun these last four years. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had more than enough fun but I’ve also gone through some rough things and times financial stressing out about paying bills.
I came into freshman year with enough from graduation presents and what I had saved for the last few years to pay for the first semester here at Northwestern. My parents gave me a grand each semester to help but did NOT co-sign the parent plus loan. I took out the student loan and got grants and scholarships for my grades, especially coming in with a few AP credits from highschool.
I got a job near northwestern (lexington Perkins) in August to start working before school kicked off and although I didnt have a car my freshman year in the fall I lived at arden and would walk ten minutes to work each time I was scheduled. I worked maybe 10-15 hours a week on top of a 15 credit load and 15+ hours a week of soccer. I couldnt do the job anymore by mid november and my mom and I went out for lunch and she broke the news that realistically I couldnt stay at Northwestern because I couldnt afford it. I honestly thought my parents would pick up the slack I couldnt pay but she said no and they held to their word of not handing me my education, instead making me work for it. I cried and cried having to leave and felt like I would lose all my friends I had made.
I had to move home and find a job in Apple Valley (half hour south of the twin cities) and decided to go to a community school. I moved home and started hostessing at Ruby Tuesdays 4 shifts a week; one of them being wed nights. I would get off work at 8 o clock and drive to Northwestern to go to Campus Outreach’s (CO) wednesday night youth group events on campus, sleep over at my captains house or friends dorms and go to chapel in the morning and then drive to my first class at noon back near my house. I came up for some random basketball games and spring training with the soccer team but worked really hard at home so that I could come back. I decided to raise support to go on the summer project with CO and worked there all summer. We got home and the first day back I job hunted all day for 3 days so find something up in roseville for the school year.
I ended up getting offered a job in byerlys bakery at 5 am till 10am everyday. I decided to take Distance Education (online) classes (12 credits) enough to play soccer but so that I could work as well. I lived in a house off campus and paid rent so doing DE was much cheaper and I could do an entire year through that program. I took out half the loan for the year (student loan) and paid the rest out of my own pocket. Everyday I got up at 415 to get ready for work and spend time with the lord, went to work at five untill 10, went to chapel and then came home to nap before cranking out my homework. I would go to practice and then come home to eat and then pretty much crash to wake up the next day all over again. Multiple nights I would cry and cry and cry stressing out about how to pay for gas or food and tuition for the next semester. All the while I had continued saving not only for the next semester but put money into my “college fund” my parents had started for me when I was little. It was building interest and was at 7 grand but I was saving that for the spring of my senior year. I sometimes walked from county rd D or biked to work because I didn’t have any gas. Some game weekends I worked 5 am till 10 and then would drive to school or mankato alone so I could still work on game days. (an incredibly tear filled time of my life.) I felt distance from the team but knew I had to make it work if I wanted to stay at UNW and play soccer.
I had built such close friendships and bonds with my teammates that I couldn’t bare the possibility of not playing with them for even a season. There were multiple times I called coach telling him I thought I would have to quit, through the tears, but somehow God always made a way for me. I was provided for day in and day out.
At the end of the fall semester I left the bakery, I could no longer get up to work those hours and by God’s grace got a job serving at Don Pablos down the road (I had never served before) and worked at an ice rink back in Apple Valley. I served saturday night – wednesday night and then drove home to work thursday night, friday night and saturday morning at the rink while only taking 6 credits to focus on work, and to cut down on costs. That semester I didn’t take out a loan at all and paid for school purely out of my pocket. When the skating season ended I worked 30 hours a week at Don Pablos and got hired at Bruggar’s for the spring months (seasonal) which I had applied to the previous August. I worked out my schedule to work early morning at Bruggar’s and then lunch and dinner at Don Pablo’s doing my homework in between shifts. I ended up getting a 4.0 and made for an easier junior year by getting the full academic scholarship making tuition less expensive for the coming fall.
I went to the summer project again, raising support for the whole trip and working while down there. I got back and decided to live with my Grandpa who lives in St. Anthony for free alone while still serving at Don Pablos. I worked the nights we didn’t have games and occasionally left practice early to work the dinner shift, but making most of my money on sunday afternoons working a double shift from mid lunch until the close of dinner at 9; all while taking 17 credits at full time day school again. Boy was I happy to be back in class!
Mid october I got kicked out of my very strict grandpa’s house for a misunderstanding that he was not gracious towards. I lived out of my car for two weeks before my teammate Shannon Sopher’s (from Moundsview) parents invited me to live with them free of charge. I moved in there and commuted to work and school daily, but often sleeping in dorms so I wouldn’t have to drive. At the same time realizing I had still no money to really pay for the spring. As I began to pray I found God leading me to go to YWAM (Youth With a Mission) for DTS.
I raised 8,000 and left January 3rd for the semester. I was in Orlando, FL training for 3 months and then got to go to the Middle East for outreach! This 8,000 didn’t come in all at once. I was actually 2 weeks past my deadline and a week before leaving 4000 of it came in all in 7 days. I was overjoyed with how God had provided. A grand of this support was all from friends and teammates from both the Men and Women’s soccer teams here at NWC.
Shortly after raising this support during Lordship week, at YWAM the Lord convicted me about my lack of work ethic and taking ownership for my learning abilities. (I have a crazy memory, and was encouraged to major, if not at the very least minor in Spanish but had zero desire to take the time and effort to learn and get better in highschool.) During this week I changed my major to Biblical and Theological studies which could be done almost entirely through Distance Education (online classes). I had not done that as a sophomore out of fear and laziness of taking Greek for an entire year. I now am a Biblical studies major and close to 75% of the way through my first year of Greek.
As a senior this year with one more year till graduation, I got home from the Middle East and lived with my parents for the last time. (So I thought) I nannied all day during the summer and served at a new restaurant in Apple Valley at night. I didn’t quite have enough for school so I decided to use my college fund I had been saving for the coming spring.
Soccer started in the fall and I looked for jobs but couldn’t find anything to work out. End of September I got a concussion and broke my nose, having to have surgery put me out of school for a week and Job hunting for a good month while trying to catch up with my 18 credits. I started to freak out about money as it was running dry but faithfully God gave me 3 all at once. I started nannying mid december and got promised interviews for the new year. I decided to go the Distance Ed route again with 8 credits for the spring and work at Chianti Grill and New York and Company. That semester I didn’t have anything to lean on so I took out a loan to help pay my 8 credits but paying as much as I could. I then had a year left and had no idea what the Lord had in store but was praying and planning to be an RA for the upcoming school year. I wanted to be involved in younger girls’ lives since I couldn’t play soccer again.
I didn’t get the RA position to help with finances and focus on paying for the spring tuition, but God still provided in amazing ways. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness for me to be at UNW for 4 years even when I thought I would only make it there for one semester.
I’ve cried lots and lots, more freshman and sophomore year than anything, and always more during soccer season than the Spring but Praise God for sustaining where he has been guiding.
I Love seeing what the Lord has shown me play out practically and am beyond thankful for the encouragement from roommates and teammates through out the years. I’ve been given gift cards for gas and taken out randomly for a meal just as I didn’t have any food and more importantly seen that God blesses through the pain and hard work.
I wouldn’t trade the tears and pain and lack of sleep for anything even if it meant I had to do it all over just to have the same experience. You CAN be at Northwestern and graduate with less than $20,000 in loans but it does take a lot of work and prayer and trust.
I ended up graduating with 23,500 in loans this past December (2013) with a BA in Biblical Studies and minors in both Biblical studies and communications. Northwestern changed my life in so many ways and I couldn’t have hoped it turned out any other way.