Weighed down by finances, peer pressure, and receded motivations, many highs school seniors, and even juniors, believe that studying out-of-state is not an option. I say, stray away from this idea. Studying out of state is like leaving everything you have ever known to plunge yourself into an unknown, exciting, and mysterious world of wonderland. Be it across the country, across the world, or just over the invisible border, attending college out-of state can be one of the most awakening experiences one can ever have.
Depending on where you were born and raised or what you have been exposed to, the first major thing you will notice in an out-of-state college is the difference in the people around you. Perhaps they have an accent or even hold the door open while you haul your not-quite-needed closet packed into those six suitcases, but the little things always make the difference. University is the place where you meet students from all over the world, and this means that everyone is different.
You will find yourself befriending people who probably hold opposite political, social, or religious stances than you do. There are also times when an epiphany occurs – “wow, we were raised so differently.” And perhaps there’s the realization that you were raised in a more liberal, conservative, expressive, cold, authoritative, or allowing household. You are a product of your surroundings and the traits that have been emulated from those who have raised you, as well as the experiences you have had throughout the course of your life. You may note that perhaps everything that you have been taught has another side to it! You notice that there are other “right” ways to live life and to make decisions.
In the midst of your external observations, there is also that inevitable internal reflection. Suddenly, you are to make decisions for yourself without the influence of others, and you begin to analyze how you will begin to choose your friends. This is a huge learning experience as you realize what kind of people you want be like. In addition, you also note that the morals that have been etched and engraved into every body cell are no longer enforced. You choose your own morals, and you make the decision to implement traces or chunks of what you have been taught throughout the course of your entire life. The cool part is that this is a never-ending process. Individuals develop like a growing leaf undergoing color change in the fall. Each day you are faced with choices that essentially mold your character. You are forced to fend for yourself in a world of predators, and friends, and strangers. And as beautiful result, you become more identified with the type of person you are as each day calls for growth and development.
I wake up every Tuesday and realize it’s laundry day. A sudden dread encompasses my body and thoughts. However the thought of having an unending pile of growing used apparel stacked under my bed makes my eyes to roll to the depths of their sockets and my nose to scrunch just a little. Responsibility is something every student is forced to take on. Be it the responsibility of time management, doing laundry, or cooking for yourself, these are life skills that are fundamental for life.
The Infamous “College Budget”
There comes a point in the semester where you have a “mid-semester-college-budget-crisis.” Of course, it’s always after a night of reckless spending when you mechanically type in that password and stare at the spinning ball on that bank app until the numbers paralyze you for a second. You then make the decision that you are officially on a “college budget.” You suddenly recognize that food, laundry, and outings with friends all cost money. You suddenly grasp the true value of money and how to live by a budget of some sort.
One thing about studying out of state is that there is a wonderful atmosphere in the classroom: students actually want to be there. Studying out-of-state brings an even more inviting tone. When classes are discussion-based, you will find that not everyone is from the area that the school is located. Many arguments will begin with “well, where I’m from…” or “I totally disagree because for example back home…” People actually enjoy participating, and bringing in some home town flavor is always a catchy way to get people to pay attention.
Categorizing people has magnificent power. Like many things in this world, there are things that one cannot change, but one thing that can be done is to let it go and show people otherwise. As my best friend says, “you do you” and show them that you just may not represent that stereotype through your actions. As unpleasant as this may sound, using these skills and experiences will allow you to become a more grounded, open-minded, and accepting person.
Attending university out-of-state has many pros just like studying in state. However, for some people, you will always feel the responsibility a little more or experience a stronger feeling of independence. It is definitely an option that is worth considering!
Image: Dean & Draper