When I began applying to universities I wasn’t as adventurous as my peers who applied to schools in Hawaii, Texas, and California. I knew I wanted some distance, but I also wanted to be close enough to home that a weekend trip wouldn’t be unthinkable.
I ended up going to the University of Idaho for one year, which was an hour and a half drive from my parents’ house. It was a small, quaint university. I was able to receive a scholarship that lowered my out of state tuition because I’m from the neighboring state of Washington, and I took out a small loan of $5,000.
After a year, however, I decided the university wasn’t for me and I transferred to Eastern Washington University. This university is forty five minutes from home, I don’t have to take out loans, and it’s well-known in my state for having an amazing program for future teachers.
There were pros and cons to both situations, but in the end the school closest to me ended up being better for me. Here are some of the factors I considered in making my decision:
What tuition deals and scholarships are available to you? Most student can take advantage of in-state tuition by going to a public university in their home state. However, depending on what scholarships and other forms of financial aid are available to you, an out-of-state school or a private school could be just as affordable.
At Eastern Washington University the in state tuition is $6,110 and tuition is $22,502 for a non-resident. The difference was substantial for me, and well worth it to make the switch.
However, some private schools have surprisingly generous need-based aid as well as merit aid that could make it affordable for you to go! For example, if your parents earn less than $125,000 a year you could go to Stanford tuition-free!
Of course Sanford is very competitive to get into, but other private universities have similar tuition-assistance available. Make sure you look into what's available before you make your decision.
2. Proximity to Home
Will you be able to handle being far away from home?
I am only 45 minutes away from home and am able to make a trip whenever I need to, but it is also enough distance to make me feel like I am living on my own. This is a good situation for me and my parents.
One of my classmates have parents who live in Florida. She only gets to see them a couple times a year and relies heavily on FaceTime and other technology to keep her connected. This can be hard on her family, but there are benefits to living far away as well. You are forced to get out of your comfort zone, and become more self-sufficient and independent. You may also enjoy exploring a new place that is completely different from where you grow up.
3. Career & Networking Opportunities
Depending on the field you are going into, you might need to be in a specific location to have the best chance for career growth. For example, a student studying marine biology will probably want to be near the ocean for best results. A student who is getting into film production may want to be close to Los Angeles where a lot of internship opportunities are located.
Consider the programs that your potential university has to offer and if those programs are worth the move. Every situation is different, but what’s important is that you’re planning for beyond your college years.
I hope you know realize there is a lot to think about when it comes to location. Studying in Hawaii may sound luxurious, but if you have to take out a lot of loans, and then relocate to a completely different location to pursue your career it may end up being a very costly endeavor.
Any place is what you make it. It is up to you to decide which location will best serve you and your future endeavors, and if a big move or a small move will benefit you in the long run.