One of the biggest factors students consider when looking at colleges is how far they will be from home. For some students, it is really important to be within driving distance of home, but for others, being a good plane ride away may be the best option. Consider what you want to get out of your college experience and learn about yourself over the next four years. Is that opportunity available down the street from your house or will you need to venture a little further out into the world?
1. Is it time for a change? Sure you may feel homesick if you decide to go to a school that is far from home, but most students say that homesickness eventually goes away. Nothing can replace waking up with your cat or dog, a home-cooked meal from mom, or hanging out with all of your high school friends, but being away at school gives you the chance to create new memories and become more independent. I always tell my students that home is never the same after high school ends. Your friends may move away and you certainly will not have the same routine. Being away from home gives you the chance to really learn about yourself, without being influenced by the comforts that have always been around you. It can be a tough journey, but worth it in the end. Keep in mind that this decision is not permanent. You can always go back after graduation!
2. Increasing admissibility? One of the downsides of being a non-resident at a state school is that you will have to pay out-of-state tuition. Well, in this economy, that makes out-of-state students very desireable. Boston.com reported that UMass Amerhst plans to “aggressively recruit” out-of-state students. They also plan on increasing scholarship opportunities and other financial incentives. Inside Higher Ed also reported that similar ideas are being tossed around at UC Berkeley, UCSD, Rutgers University and University of Colorado.
While this may be a new trend for some state schools, private schools have been seeking students outside of their normal geographic regions for years. This “geographic diversity” can be a bonus in the admissions process.
3. Is it really more expensive? As I mentioned above, out-of-state tuition at public school can be pricey, but as with anything in the college admission process, it is important to do your homework. We have previously reported on the importance of comparison shopping when it comes to paying tuition at state schools. In some instances it can actually be cheaper than paying tuition in your home state!
Also, some private colleges do take into consideration your distance from home when determining financial aid packages. As a result, financial aid packages can include travel funds. Travel scholarships may also be available through the admissions office if you are in need of financial assistance in order to visit a school that is far from home.
4. Finding the right fit. Reality is that the schools in your state may not offer what you are looking for. They may not have the right major or access to career resources you feel that you need. In these circumstances, an out-of-state school may provide the right fit for the college experience you are envisioning.
5. Experiencing a new part of the country. Fact of the matter is that it is a big world out there. One of the greatest things about the United States is that there is so much to see and experience. You have the opportunity to live in a completely different environment and you don’t even have to leave the country! So jump in with both feet and really begin to think about how going way to college can change your life!