The Chronicle’s View: Sometimes credit has its privileges

There are many reasons to be wary of establishing a line of credit while still in college. Everyone has heard the horror stories-innocent little freshman gets a credit card, immediately sinks into unmanageable debt and files for bankruptcy a week after graduation.

For responsible students, however, creating a credit history early on in life might just be the way to go.

Credit ratings are established through a number of different criteria, including occupation, age and home-ownership status.

Most of us will find it difficult to score highly on any of these criteria-after all, how many college students do you know that own their own houses and are doctors?

Among the credit-rating criteria, however, are a few things that students can start working on right now.

People who have a history of paying off their credit cards on time are going to rate higher than those who don’t.

The number of credit lines you have can also help you, especially if you’ve had them for a long time and kept them all paid off. The lower the ratio of balances to available credit lines, the better you’re going to look to prospective loan agencies in the future.

While it’s important to avoid situations that could lead to unmanageable debt, there are positive, responsible ways to establish credit.

Students looking into getting a credit card should research companies beforehand and make sure they understand everything accepting a card entails.

Students should also avoid credit cards with huge interest rates. Buying a plasma screen might not seem like a big deal at first, but if you spend the next decade paying it off, you’ll definitely regret it.

It might also be a good idea to sign up for a credit card through a particular store as opposed to immediately jumping into Discover-Visa-Mastercard waters. Having an account at Target might be the best way to slowly acclimate yourself to the world of credit.

One thing is for sure-if someone is offering you a $3 visor to get you to sign up for a credit card, you should probably steer clear. Events such as Plazafest and Redfest are not where you want to be planning your financial future.

If you aren’t mature enough to be responsible with a line of credit, be honest with yourself. You’ll regret it later if you aren’t.

If you can handle the extra responsibility, though, go for it. Your future finances will benefit from it.