Should I Stay or Should I Go?

One of the most difficult decisions young adults today face is where to go to college. What if you make the wrong decision? What if you don’t make friends? Almost guaranteed, these questions have run through your mind like a bad song. But here’s the good news: if you understand your values as far as tuition, location, campus atmosphere, and personal outgoingness, you basically already know how to make the right choice. Maybe you just need a little nudge, so here’s one: don’t settle, don’t be afraid to take risks, but be realistic. I’m not saying you should take this matter lightly, in fact I’m saying the opposite. Let’s take a look at what makes it or breaks it for the college decision, because deciding between going to an in-state college versus out-of-state college is a long process, because both options have so many positive characteristics, and some of them are not very straightforward.

In-state schools, out-of-state schools, why should you care? How different could they really be if they all serve the same purpose? Well, the first time I came home from college and met up with my friends from high school, there were a ton of mixed reviews. Some of them chose to attend an expensive school far from home and ended up hating it. Some chose to go to the most popular in-state school and all they could talk about was transferring at semester. Most liked their choice of school, and few loved it. Not to brag, but I was one of those few that couldn’t wait to get back to school. This made me extremely grateful, and a little curious as to what the equation is to choosing the right school.

Clearly, tuition plays a major role. College is not a cheap transaction, and when it comes down to deciding between an in-state school and out-of-state school, it seems as if the cost is usually the deal breaker. However, the amount of scholarships available is increasing, and many of them take different factors into account. One of the most helpful scholarships is called the WUE, it is widely accepted and is one of the largest scholarships for students attending school in the West. When I was applying for colleges, I joined a website called Fastweb Scholarships, and I kid you not, fifty percent of my inbox consists of e-mails from them regarding new scholarships I can apply for. Sure, it is slightly annoying and a little overwhelming. But the site tailors the content based on your personal information that the scholarships take into account, so you only see the scholarships you qualify for. There are several websites like this, and even more state and regional scholarships available, and by utilizing them, the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition can become significantly less alarming.

Although cost is a major indicator as to whether a college is a good fit or not, when I asked Western Washington University students why they chose their school, the majority said that they chose it because they enjoy the atmosphere of the campus. This response points out that for most students, happiness at your school takes an edge over cost, especially with the amount of scholarships available that can significantly cut the cost. Students that choose an out-of-state college report that they also have a greater sense of independence, because they don’t have the option of going home whenever they want, and more privacy because their parents also can’t drop in whenever they want. This is one of the greatest trade offs between going to school close to or far from home, because the further from home you go, the more independence and opportunities to experience new things you have, but it is more difficult to go home for occasions other than major breaks or holidays. Out-of-state college students don’t have as many, or even any, friends or people they already know from high school that go to their college. Therefore, they are forced to be outgoing and meet more people than students who already know a considerable amount of people.

So, what does all of this information mean in regards to if it better to go to an in-state or out-of-state college, after all? The most crucial points in this decision are the cost of tuition, accessibility to home, campus atmosphere, climate and urban or outdoorsy activities, and classes offered. Clearly, all these points can either go one way or another, and the order in which they are valued depends on the student and their personal needs.The decision of where to go to college is one of the most important ones in life, because it greatly influences how you grow and mature at this great turning point in life, which is the beauty of finally choosing the best place for you.