The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    I have a diploma, now what?

    Crossing the stage to receive her diploma is something that has been going through senior Annie Hoffman’s mind for years.

    “Graduating from college is a dream for all students – and it is finally here,” Hoffman said.

    However, living situations, loan payments, insurance issues and being able to financially support themselves are major concerns for graduating seniors, they say.

    “Money is always on my mind – how to make enough money, to make ends meet,” senior Rachel Becker said. “It is easier under your parents and in college because you can get away with a lot more.”

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    Hoffman agreed, saying it is hard to make all these decisions at once, besides figuring out what to do with her degree.

    About 84 percent of UW-Eau Claire’s spring 2006 graduating class found jobs right after graduation, said Angie Jones of Career Services. An additional 14 percent opted to continue their education – which made just 2 percent of graduates unemployed immediately after getting their diplomas, she said.

    Both Hoffman and Becker said they are considering graduate school for physical therapy but are concerned with what to do during the time off and where to go for now.

    “I am worried about getting accepted to graduate school,” Hoffman said. “. The dream of being a physical therapist requires more schooling.”

    Becker has chosen a different route.
    “I want to take a year off and decide what I want to do with my major, I will have a degree but it is a degree to go on to more school,” she said.

    Insurance is a necessary expense for college graduates such as Becker and Hoffman, depending on their jobs and living situations, said insurance agent Ken Sturtz of State Farm, 1827 Brackett Ave. He estimated monthly payments on all insurance policies to be about $200 a month – not including auto insurance, which varies widely depending on the type of car and age of the driver.

    Even if students secure a job immediately after graduation, they will need an individual health insurance policy until their benefits kick in, Sturtz said. This starts at $140 a month, he said.

    Renter’s insurance is just $12 a month, he said, but a buying a home will require homeowner’s insurance. Sturtz said it’s never too early to purchase life insurance – even if the graduate is unmarried.

    “The sooner you take out a policy, the cheaper it is,” he said, adding that term coverage could be $15 a month, while life coverage is about $50 a month.

    Besides finances, leaving friends and family was something that Hoffman and Becker seemed to struggle with the most.

    “You grow a lot closer with college friends than you ever will or ever did in high school,” Becker said. “Leaving your friends and really not knowing where they are going is hard and scary.”

    Hoffman agreed, adding that graduation means “leaving everything that makes me happy and makes me feel at home.”

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    I have a diploma, now what?