What Are Advantages of Going to College In State vs. Out of State?

Going to school locally for financial or other reasons doesn't need to be a negative experience.


When it comes time for students to start narrowing down their list of colleges to apply to, one issue always presents itself: whether to leave home for newfound independence and go to school out of state, or stay closer to home and reap the benefits of having family close by. This week, Jordan T. from Brooklyn, N.Y., is looking beyond the dollars and asks:

Q: Aside from the difference in tuition, what are the advantages and disadvantages of going to a school in state vs. out of state?

A: It's all about your college state of mind.

Ralph Figueroa, director of college guidance, Albuquerque Academy In-state colleges can have financial benefits, true. Beyond that, it is more important to consider things like weather and the setting of the college—city, town, or rural. Being in-state or out is not that important, but what you want out of your college location, and how often you decide to come home may be. I have seen students go across the country, yet come home often. I also knew one faculty member who never saw her son who attended the same college where she taught. But every student should consider some schools far away that encourage personal growth.

[Learn more about finding the right school for you.]

A: Should I stay or should I go?

Don Fraser Jr., director of education and training, National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) For some, staying in-state is a necessity (e.g., personal or financial reasons), and other students want to see another part of the country. If you'd rather be away but have to stay in-state, then make the most of your experience. Live on campus if you can afford to. Get involved in campus life. Join a club and you're bound to meet folks who have had different experiences and come from other parts of the country. Look into the study abroad program, which may not cost you any more than you are already paying. You can feel far from home while still being able to trot home easily if you need to.

[Read 5 ways commuter students can make campus feel like home.]

A: Look with different eyes!

Roby Blust, dean of admissions and enrollment planning, Marquette University Many students don't consider a college in their hometown or home state because they believe they know it too well because they pass by it frequently. I would advise you to visit this school like you would an out-of-state institution. Make an appointment with the admissions office, take a full tour, eat in the cafeteria, stay overnight if available. In other words, look at this school like you would if it was located many miles from home. This will allow you to see it with different eyes, and you might like what you see!

[Learn more about college tours.]

A: Grow in confidence and independence by going out of state.

Jacqueline Murphy, director of admissions, Saint Michael's College College is seen as preparation for a career, but it is also a transition from adolescence to young adulthood. The greatest benefit of going to school far from home is the growth in confidence from being away from home while in the supportive community of a college or university. Being pushed out of one's comfort zone, learning how to negotiate through a new location, and doing so together with new classmates can build confidence and independence. You won't earn credits in self sufficiency but you will come home a more mature, self confident young adult. 

I remember a young woman who suffered separation anxiety was concerned about leaving home but saw the benefit of pushing her limits. Choosing a school four hours from home was a challenge and was not without rocky moments the first year. By junior year, she had the confidence to spend a semester in Vienna, Austria, travelling around Europe independently nearly every weekend. Upon graduation she moved from her rural home town to a large eastern city with no problems at all. She attributes her success to that first difficult choice of selecting an out-of-state college.

Visit the Unigo Expert Network for 20 more experts revealing the benefits of in-state and out-of-state colleges, and to have your own questions answered.