Going to college can be a huge life transition. You’d likely be in college for about 4 years on average if you’re looking to acquire a bachelor’s degree.
It, therefore, requires critical thought and decision-making so that your four years of stay aren’t filled with regrets.
Notably, there are many factors to consider when deciding whether to study in-state or out-of-state, of which cost is a major factor.
From cost to job opportunities and everything between, this article discusses 9 important factors to consider when choosing a college.
1. Cost of tuition
One of the first and most important things to consider when choosing a college is the cost of tuition. Most public in-state universities favor residents by offering them a lower tuition fee than out-of-state students.
Colleges in the United States are run by the state rather than the federal government. States, therefore, subsidize tuition fees for people who live and pay taxes there.
So if you live in Florida, you’d pay far less to attend the University of Florida than someone from California. The cost difference between in state vs out of state tuition can be two times more, but it’s always advisable to get expert guidance when deciding. There are ways you can go around cost if you prefer an out-of-state college to the one in your state.
Some students start with an in-state school, saving money along the way to transfer to an out-of-state school.
2. Degree programs offered
Perhaps there’s a college you’ve always fantasized about going to since you were younger. But if they don’t offer the major you now have your heart set upon, schooling there won’t be worth it.
Furthermore, not all colleges are created equal. A school may be better at a certain major than other schools. If your in-state college isn’t top-notch at your program of interest, spending more money to study it elsewhere isn’t a bad idea. The investment may be worth it in the long run.
Additionally, some programs are only available in certain locations. For instance, Kansas would not be the right state for you if you desire to study Marine Biology. You will have to choose an out-of-state college near water bodies.
3. Your chances of gaining admission
It’s worth noting that certain colleges and departments monitor the number of students they accept in-state and out-of-state. With precedence given to in-state residence, it means your chances of getting admitted to an out-of-state college may be slimmer.
Other colleges filter applicants by scores in board exams, and they organize entrance tests to select the most suitable candidates.
The admission process is always an important factor to consider when choosing a college. It’s also wise to apply to multiple universities to leave you enough choices should your primary choice university fails.
4. Scholarship opportunities
If you look towards getting government funding such as scholarships and grants, then you want to choose a college in a state where they’re readily available.
However, scholarship opportunities are available in virtually every state in the US but are usually exclusive to in-state students. Some require that the student be a resident in the state for at least two years.
Notwithstanding, you can still get scholarships and grants out of state, but you may have to pay back.
Note that you wouldn’t have to pay back any scholarship you win at an in-state college, so it’s like money in the bank.
5. Consider where you want to live after school
In addition to cost, it’s crucial you consider where you want to live for the next few years after school. If you’re passionate about your state and look to remain there, it’s best to study in an in-state college.
If you intend to live and work in another state after college, schooling in that state may be an excellent idea.
During your college years, you can familiarize yourself with the terrain. This can increase your chances of getting a job there because finding employment is usually easier where you graduate. Students do an internship and connect with other notable personalities, becoming a part of that community.
6. Reciprocity programs
If you’re seriously considering studying in an out-of-state college, check if they have a reciprocity program to reduce your tuition cost. A reciprocity program is an agreement between states, limiting the cost of tuition for out-of-state students.
Reciprocity programs can reduce out-of-state tuition to 150% of the in-state tuition. For example, if in-state students pay $10,000, out-of-state students may only need to pay $15,000 instead of over $20,000. This can help to save costs considerably.
7. The appeal of the location
Just as location matters in real estate, so does it when choosing a college. You’d be confined to your college’s location almost throughout the years of your program, so you want it to appeal to your preferences.
Here are some things to consider:
- Level of urbanization
- Proximity to notable sights, restaurants, and entertainment
- Amenities, such as Wi-Fi
- Proximity to transportation networks to get home, such as train stations, etc.
For instance, if you love chilling at the beach on weekends, UC Santa Barbara should rightly be among your top considerations.
8. Work opportunities
If you look to work per-time while studying, work opportunity is worth considering when choosing a college. Check if the university’s schedule will allow you to do that and if there are available jobs near campus so you don’t spend too much on transportation.
9. Your reason for going to college
Self-reflection is one of the best things that will guide you in choosing a college.
What’s your primary reason for going to college? Is it to meet new people, see different cultures, and expand your horizon? Is it to pursue your talent and interests? Do you want to attend a prestigious university for the ego boost? Or do you look to save costs while facing your studies without distractions?
Self-reflection is a guiding light that can help you get a good grasp of the other factors. By asking yourself those questions, you’ll have clarity, and your next question would be finding which college best satisfies those desires.
At the end of the day, if you still can’t wrap your head around what to do, seek guidance from a licensed college admission expert.