Credit Card Struggles and Thunderground Snuggles

Tips for avoiding debt and pre-exam stress.

By Daniel Thomas| Columnist
November 10, 2020
Designed by Madeline Ham

Realizing that I am over halfway through my final semester at Wheaton feels incredibly odd. My time at Wheaton feels like it has simultaneously flown by and lasted several decades. I am grateful for the faculty and staff who have contributed to making the transition into this semester feel as smooth as possible.


This week’s questions give a sense of the different stages of life Wheaton students are in. For some, COVID’s effect on cuddling is a crisis of epic proportions. Some have deep-seated concerns about studying while others wonder how they might avoid destroying their credit score the way they’ve destroyed their GPA.


I hope you find these answers helpful, no matter where you are in your Wheaton career. Happy reading!


Hi Debtless,


Credit cards are important for growing credit. Your credit score is positively impacted by using a credit card and demonstrating your capability to pay off any accrued debt in a timely manner. For this reason alone, you should get a credit card. 


Once you get a credit card, however, it’s important to note the added vigilance you’ll need to exercise. While your initial response may be to start making all of your regular purchases with your new credit card, there are a number of reasons why this is a bad idea. 


When using a credit card, as opposed to cash, the average individual makes significantly more impulsive purchases. This is because we dissociate the pain of spending with the pleasure of acquiring when we use a card instead of cash, which can quickly lend itself to risky buying habits. But not only do credit cards make us more carefree when choosing what to buy, research suggests that merely being in possession of a credit card actually encourages us to spend with an enhanced speed, probability and magnitude. 


A study conducted at MIT found that students pursuing their MBAs were just as susceptible to this effect. When asked to bid on Celtics and Red Sox tickets, students were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Group one was told that they would be expected to pay for their prize with cash if they won the bid (they would have a period of time to withdraw cash from a bank after the bidding, so their bids were not limited to the amount of cash on hand), whereas group two was told that they would be expected to pay for their prize with a credit card if they won the bid. On average, the students using credit cards instead of cash placed initial bids that were 76% and 113% higher than their peers for Red Sox tickets and Celtics tickets respectively. 


If graduate students pursuing business degrees can fall for this trap, you can too. But instead of being fearful, be cognizant, and treat ownership of a credit card as a new avenue for you to exercise your maturity and restraint. 


It may, unfortunately, take the pain of a first credit card bill to remind yourself that more restraint is needed in the future. If you want to reap the credit-building benefits of credit cards without succumbing to overwhelming debt, use your card for infrequent, minor purchases each month, and be vigilant about on-time payments.

Hi Sleepy,


You’re right, sleep does help to consolidate memories. As far as your question goes, the benefits of that hour of sleep or studying really depend on the context. Is this truly an “extra” hour of studying or are you looking over the material for the first time? Sleep will not magically bestow information to you if you haven’t studied at all. (I’ve been there. I thought experiencing sleep would help me get an “A” on my psychoanalysis of dreams test the next day. I was wrong.) 


Generally, as the amount of time that you are able to sleep before your exam decreases, the benefits of each hour of sleep increase dramatically. If you have six hours before your exam, sleeping for that sixth hour is more vital than if you have nine hours and are wondering whether to push on with the studying and limit yourself to eight hours of rest.


In the future, spreading out study materials into smaller chunks over longer periods of time when possible will save you from making the dreaded sleep-or-study decision. I wish you sweet dreams or fruitful studying, depending on the choice you make.

Hi Curious,


Because I am living off campus (about 730 miles off campus) this semester I was not familiar with this rule. I’m glad it exists, however, as it seems much easier for Residence Life to enforce than usual cuddling-assessment methods. Gone are the days when RDs had to determine whether a lobby couple was being “too affectionate” (a terribly uncomfortable task). Now all they have to do is count the number of humans on a couch.


That being said, I don’t think regulations will spell the end of couple cuddling. I’m not sure that you and I share the same conceptions of the “thunderground.” I hardly think our passionate but otherwise rule-following lobby couples will migrate to anti-covenant parties that are the disappointment of Wheaton College. 


Where lobby couples will find their new haven for canoodling remains a mystery. Hopefully, however, one positive that comes from the situation (besides the results of their COVID tests) is that they will both quarantine if and when their soulmate or one of their soulmate’s roommates starts to feel under the weather. If they can’t agree to follow the COVID Safe, Thunder Strong rules and not go at it, they should at least be willing to take the necessary steps to respond to any COVID-related consequences.

Wheaton College, IL

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