Want to give a graduate a life-changing gift?  Give the book, The Graduate Survival Guide:  5 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make in College by Anthony Oneal and Rachel Cruze!

(I also recommend giving the graduate a little something fun that may not be so life-changing.)

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A Review of The Graduate Survival Guide: 5 Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make in College

Why Should You Give The Graduate Survival Guide?

Few students take a financial class in high school.  And, many parents do not have the time or words or influence to guide their teenagers in basic financial concepts.  

This book is by no means a complete financial guide, but it could spark an interest in learning more.  It could also:

  • Help a graduate avoid debt
  • Help a college student consider the “opportunity costs” of the choices he or she makes
  • Teach a teenager how to budget
  • Start a young adult on the path to earning, saving, and giving money.

Why Would a Graduate Read This?

Perhaps you are familiar with the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”  It is easier to lead that horse if you clear away the briars, branches, and snakes on the path to the water.  

While there are no guarantees that the teenager will read *The Graduate Survival Guide, the book is easily accessible. The print is large with important information in bold.  Charts, graphs, and pictures are also included. 

And, if the student you know “doesn’t read much,” the guide comes with a DVD in the back!  It also includes a unique access code to download the information digitally on various devices.  

Plus, co-author Anthony Oneal shares his inspirational story of struggling to overcome a mountain of debts due to a “normal mindset” in college.  Oneal also describes how the bad decisions he made in college set him back financially.

What is The Graduate Survival Guide About?


A Review of The Graduate Survival Guide: 5 Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make in College

Although not a complete financial guide, The Graduate Survival Guide explains “5 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make in College.”  It is about getting started on the right financial footing.

Mistake #1:  Student loans

The Graduate Survival Guide shows the true cost of student loans.  The numbers make me a little sick to my stomach.  But, many college students are naive to the price of interest and time.  This truth is needed!

On the positive side, The Graduate Survival Guide has several suggestions for making it through college debt free.  This book provides hope that it can be done!  And, ideas for how to do so are included. 

Mistake #2:  Credit cards

I applied for my first credit card in college, “just for emergencies.”  Plus, the card company gave me FREE king-sized candy bars.

This is a common marketing strategy.  The little bit of money the companies lose giving away “free stuff” is more than made up in interest charges.

The Graduate Survival Guide busts 5 credit card myths, explains the truth about credit scores, and shares the benefits of cash.

Mistake #3:  Dumb Choices

Most students go to college before the frontal lobe of their brains is fully developed.  The frontal lobe is home to the decision-making and planning processes.  Naturally, unwise decisions occur.

The Graduate Survival Guide tackles some of the most costly “dumb choices.”

  • Choice of major
  • Unwise vs Wise purchases
  • Scams

Wisdom and ways to save cash are provided as counterpoints.  

Mistake #4:  No plan.

This chapter is essentially about budgeting.  Budgeting is important for financial success because you plan and prioritize where your money is going.

The Graduate Survival Guide gives instructions and tools for budgeting.  And, there is an important section on mindset:  specifically, comparisons and contentment.

Mistake #5:  No Money

Are you thinking, “But all college students have no money?!”

This chapter gives a savings framework called the “Five Foundations.”  “10 Reasons to Save” are also included.  Sometimes, teenagers listen to people other than their parents.  And, some of us have to see concepts in more the one place before the ideas sink in!


The resources section helps the graduate act upon what he or she has learned in this book.  The student has a page to set goals, record his or her takeaways, and create a budget.

Final Thoughts

We plan to give *The Graduate Survival Guide to future high school graduates that we know.  I also recommend giving a little something “fun” that might not be life-changing!  

If we have influence in a certain teenager’s life, we plan to give this gift the summer between Junior and Senior years.  The Graduate Survival Guide’s information on avoiding debt would be particularly helpful to start thinking about before making an official college choice!

Parents, what books do you think are essential for a high school graduate?

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