Choosing an Out-of-State College

Information for this blog post was provided by Nicholas Fong. Nicholas is a fourth year student at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in Civil Engineering.

While at Cal, Nick is a member of the University of California, Berkeley Marching Band, Campus Ambassador, and Design Build and Construction Solution Team.

After graduation, he plans on working as a project engineer at Turner Construction.

Some high school students may be considering out-of-state colleges after high school graduation.  What kinds of decisions and choices will you have to make in order to make that reality?  Here are some factors you should keep in mind while deciding whether an out-of-state college is for you.

*Note: Many of these factors do not apply to private schools as they are not controlled by the state government.

Out-of-State Tuition

One distinction should first be made on this point. Private almost always have a uniform tuition rate regardless of where you are from. This particular aspect is geared exclusively at public schools. State schools will often subsidize the tuition of in-state students by nearly two-thirds because their families pay taxes in that particular state. For instance, the University of California system charges all students roughly $12,000 in tuition per year. However, students from out-of-state pay an additional $22,000 in out-of-state fees per year. This is not necessarily meant to discourage students from other parts of the country, but rather to support local patrons. If you do a little research, you will most likely find that your home state does something along these lines as well.

Out-of-State Admission Standards

Once again this generally only applies to public schools. Many states are mandated to give preference to their in-state applicants over the out-of-state constituents. Again, this is simply to support the local tax payers, but this can make a huge difference at certain universities. They look well beyond the common standards applied to most in-state students for excellence and high achievement. If you look at a list of the top ranked public schools, the common denominator is that they often have very low out-of-state admission rates. This is not just because they raise their standards, but also because they recognize that their retention rate for these top students may be lower than that of the in-state pool. After all, it is not easy for a student to potentially move across the country as opposed to a location that is just a short drive away.

Giving Up Regional Scholarships and Financial Aid

There are often a multitude of scholarships offered through the university for in-state students only. For instance, students applying to the University of California system with an exceptional application may be offered the Regents’ of California Scholarship. Many others like this exist. This should not be a deterrent to attending an out-of-state school, but rather an acknowledgement that if one would like financial aid, he must put more of his own effort into looking for other scholarships. This also applies for need-based financial aid. While students who qualify on a federal level can obtain the funding they need, they will not usually get it from the state government.

Unfamiliar Territory

A more intangible aspect of going out-of-state is immersing yourself in a place that is unknown to you. Not only this, but leaving your home state often means moving far enough away from home that it is not easy to get back when you would like. From personal experience, moving from the east coast to California involved the biggest social and cultural shift of my life. People on the west coast think, talk, act and even dress differently. While this may be a welcome change (I loved it quite a bit actually), it is not necessarily an immediate and easy one for every student. The best way to get a sense of how you will adapt to your new environment is to visit all the schools you would like to apply to really try to understand the environment beyond the school.

  • What are the people like?
  • What is the atmosphere like?
  • What is the weather like?

There are lots of factors that can have an effect on your experience and you should not attend a far away school solely based on your research and what you have read about it.

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Clara Ma

Clara Ma

Clara is a third year student attending the University of California, Berkeley currently pursuing a double major in Political Science and Media Studies. Her school activities include being a captain on the Cal Dance Team, being a Campus Ambassador, as well as being part of THRIVE Dance Company. She enjoys living vicariously through others on the Internet, keeping up with pop culture on Tumblr, and watching a copious number of television shows (namely Sherlock and How I Met Your Mother).