As a senior in college at Michigan State University, I believe leaving California beaches for frigid winters is what made my college experience a success. Exploring out of state options is essential to making a list of college options that will “open your eyes” in the next four years.
An out-of-state school could really be “The One,” so if you or your parents are dead set against “going the distance,” here is what you need to consider, as told by my favorite pieces of cliché college admissions advice.
The Price is Right
While they have an expensive reputation, most universities often have robust scholarship programs for out-of-state students. Many offer substantial academic scholarships – even full rides. My university offers me a $10,000 a year scholarship based on my ACT score and out-of-state status. I was even awarded an additional $5,000 study abroad scholarship for being out-of-state.
College is a massive financial decision for the whole family—explain to your parents that in-state might not always offer the greatest support. There tend to be more merit-based scholarships for out-of-state students willing to travel, and you don’t want to miss out on those opportunities.
TP has even put together a list of schools with that offer tuition waivers.
Confidence is Everything
My university’s admissions officer told me that students who make the trip from crazy Los Angeles, California to quaint East Lansing, Michigan come back with a bizarre confidence—and he was right. I had to learn how to navigate two completely different social scenes, climates, and yes, bus systems. The experience gave me the confidence to apply for and accept an internship in Washington, DC my freshman year. I knew I would be able to find housing and learn a new city because I had done it before.
But how do you get your parents to be confident in your decision to apply to an out of state school? Onto my next point…
Communication is Key
You need to talk to your parents as much as possible when considering far away schools. Talk about why you are drawn to out-of-state opportunities, and equally important, listen to their concerns. If you set aside time when neither of you are distracted—like a weekend morning—this will set a calmer tone. With consistent, calm communication, you have the best shot at explaining why you love an out-of-state school—and how you will always love and visit your parents, too. Deciding to even apply to out-of-state schools can be very emotional for your parents, and for you too, so give the conversation the time and patience it deserves.
Opportunity Doesn’t Knock Twice
Whether you’re dreaming to travel to Julliard in New York for the ultimate music school opportunity, or pining over MIT’s state of the art laboratories, being willing to cross state lines will uncover more options and open more doors. By traveling to Michigan and finding a large state school with a small honors college, I found the best of both worlds when it comes to big opportunities as well as tight-knit academic communities. I don’t know if I would have had the opportunity to fall in love with the Midwest if I wasn’t crazy enough to apply to a school I had never heard of in the middle of Michigan.
An important last distinction: While opportunity doesn’t knock twice, student loans certainly do. I’m not trying to force wanderlust or encourage outlandish spending to go out of the state when you have amazing opportunities in your backyard (for cheap!). I’m aiming to to invoke inspiration—not delusion.