Today’s high school seniors, engaged in the college quest, face many more challenges than students even ten or fifteen years ago. The recessed economy, lack of job opportunities, and rising tuition costs all pose serious obstacles for students. Yet public colleges, in search of more tuition dollars, are heavily recruiting out-of-state students. And more and more kids each year elect to travel beyond their home state in search of a quality education. But do the benefits of going away to school outweigh the costs?
Costs of going out-of-state:
The most obvious downside to out-of-state education is the added financial responsibility. State universities provide substantially lower tuition for in-state students. Students who travel across the country to school may find themselves paying almost twice as much as their in-state classmates. Private colleges and universities, however, generally charge the same tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.
Additional financial (and emotional) stress is added because of travel. Students who attend college far away from their homes must consider transportation costs. They probably will not get to visit home as often as their classmates who live closer, and the beginning and end of the year will be chaotic as they decide whether to store their possessions somewhere on campus or take them home for the summer.
Finally, attending college out-of-state can be a culture shock-inducing experiment. Different weather, food, and local customs can make you feel like you chose to go to college on a different planet rather than just a different state.
Benefits of going out-of-state:
A student willing to look across the country for prospective colleges obviously has many more options than one determined to attend school in his or her home state. There are liberal arts colleges, state universities, and career-focused technical schools in every region of the U.S., but if you know what you want to study or specialize in, choosing a college that is known for that particular program can go a long way towards getting you a job after you graduate.
Many students decide to go out of state in order to attend an elite college or university. This is one of the best reasons to go out-of-state. If you will get a better education at that far-away school, go for it! You may regret passing up the opportunity later on.
Finally, going to school out-of-state gives you a broader perspective of the world. You will become familiar with a new area of the country, meet people that you would never have met otherwise, and broaden your opportunities for employment and living situations.
What to do?
Ultimately, every student must make the decision about what is best for his or her situation. Talking to family, weighing options, then deciding what feels right. Whether the decision is to go to college 3,000 miles away or just down the street, students will walk away a few years later with a degree, a sense of empowerment, and the tools to be a successful and independent adult.