In-state vs Out-state; which one is better?


As the month of December begins, many seniors across the country will begin to contemplate their college decisions. For some that have applied early action, their decisions may be more finite. For those that are applying regular decision, their future is unknown. But both groups of students have one similarity: comparing the positives and negatives of traveling out-of-state for college or staying in-state.

In my opinion, deciding to leave the state or stay is not as black and white as it may appear to most. There are many factors that determine where a student chooses to attend school and they differ based on each students situation. The biggest factors to consider when looking at colleges include (but are not limited to): scholarships, major, quality of schools where you live, the opportunities/connections offered at the school, and general liking of school. 

  • Scholarships: Out-of-state schools are expensive, no questions asked. Public institutions can be anywhere between $30,000-$60,000 for two semesters of school (fees and meal plans included). Scholarships allows students to attend schools that maybe they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to.
  • Major: A huge factor in where you go to school is of course if the school has your major or not. I understand that many students may not know what major they want to go into, but for those that do that’s a major aspect of your decision. Programs differ based on the school and how the school both funds and approaches it. Food science at NC State is completely different from Food Science at Clemson, even though they’re called the same.
  • Quality of schools in area: Students living in smaller states may not have as many schools that offer what they look for in their school. There could also be lots of community colleges in the area which doesn’t relate to the chosen college path. Determining the quality of schools in the area as well as the state is important to factor in when beginning your college search.
  • Opportunities/connections: In smaller, more rural towns, it can be more difficult to make good connections depending on your career path. Say you want to go into Aerospace Engineering but you live in a small town in Iowa. Sure, there could definitely be a couple of connections, but going to schools that specialize in your intended major have quick connections that could lead to internships and jobs.
  • General liking of the school: Major, location, and cost aside, what matters the most is whether or not you actually like the school. You could spend anywhere from 2-8 years, so go to a place that you love. I think almost every adult has said once or twice in their lifetime, “College is the best four years of your life.” Listen to where you want to go, what activities the college have, what the town is like, etc and make sure you seriously love where you go.

There are plenty of pros and cons for both options, but let’s start with in-state.

Staying in-state saves money, both on tuition and transportation. In-state tuition is of course cheaper, and requires less money for transportation such as flights and gas money. It’s easier to get home so you have the option to visit your parents or friends on weekends, as well as visit doctors if you’re sick. You also know what you’re getting into before you attend school, in terms of demographic, weather, and surrounding towns. 

One of the biggest pros of going out-of-state is the introduction to the “real world”. Having to deal with problems on your own, without immediately running to your parents can be extremely beneficial in increasing maturity and preparing for life after college. Allowing yourself to look out-of-state can help you find a great match based so many different factors, instead of limiting yourself to just in-state.

Going out-of-state gives you the chance to experience a whole new world away from what you’ve grown up with. Different cultures, different locations, and plenty of new opportunities outside of your hometown.

Overall, deciding whether to go in-state or out-of-state all depends on the situation and what the person is looking for. Each circumstance is different and it’s up to the person to decide where they want to spend their time and money.


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