By: Pooja Parmar
Going to school out of state can be extremely nerve-wracking, but being able to explore different parts of the country (or the world) can be one of the most exciting college experiences. There are several factors to consider when deciding whether or not going to college out of state is for you.
An out of state college experience is a dream for many students, but typically the biggest concern is whether or not the cost of an out of state school is worth it. A way to keep student loans to a minimum is to start looking for scholarships and other opportunities early on. Many students make the mistake of looking at scholarships after they finish their college applications, but scholarship deadlines coincide with college applications or can even be before those deadlines. Scholarships can be found through your high school counselor, clubs you are involved in, and numerous online resources. Because I started searching for scholarships as soon as my senior year had started, I was able to pay off all of my college expenses, and going to college out of state became a reality. However, if the scholarship route does not work out for you, look into negotiating the financial aid offers from schools and consider whether or not taking out student loans is something that is appropriate for your situation.
Applying to schools out of state can also work in your favor. Many universities have scholarships specifically for out of state students in order to make college more affordable. These universities also deem that geographic diversity is important for their student body and want students from all over the country. These scholarships tend to be merit scholarships and may not even require an extra application. Therefore, it is a good idea to think about what out-of-state schools you want to go to and see the minimum qualifications in order to receive these special scholarships. This can help you set goals for yourself for standardized tests and other metrics as you navigate your high school career.
Once all the financials are figured out, and you have accepted the offer to go to a university out of state, there are only logistical details that need to be figured out.
First off, decide whether you are driving or flying for move-in day. If you are flying, set aside a budget to ship some items over to the campus, but only ship over the stuff you already have. If you need to make any purchases, go to stores near your school on move-in day so you don’t have to have to spend excessively on shipping items. If you are driving, you have more leeway with how much you want to purchase from your hometown versus near your school campus. Make sure to pack some items in suitcases you can keep with you on campus in order to travel back home for the holidays or other travel purposes.
Once you get on campus, walk around the town or drive around the city in order to get a feel of the place. Figure out emergency contact information, and where the closest resources such as hospitals and banks are. Connect with any friends or family that you may have in the area.
Throughout the year, new logistical issues or situations may come up such as transferring prescription refills over to the university pharmacy or figuring out summer storage. However, the most important thing to remember is that you may not be prepared for everything. Going to school out of state is a wonderful and enriching experience where students get to truly feel independent in a different way. Many circumstances may arise that you may not have anticipated, and completely expected, but you will be able to figure it out. It is important to set reasonable expectations for yourself in a new environment and allow yourself to take time to get comfortable. Be open and ready for an incredible new experience.