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Why I Chose To Attend College Out Of State

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

A photo of the Boston skyline across a river.

Transitioning from high school to college is hard, whether college is 14 minutes from home, 14 miles, or 14 hours.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a college, with a main one being location. Here is my story of why I chose to go out of state for school.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, I had never called another place home. I lived in the heart of Boston, a colonial city with a rich history and even richer food.

I lived in a state where many of the top institutions in the nation and around the world call home, such as Northeastern University, Boston College, Tufts University, Harvard University, and many more. 

School meant everything to me. To be brought up in a house where my academics came first, I knew college was my next step. My education, I learned very quickly, was the catalyst to anything I wanted to accomplish.

So when it came time to look at schools, I would be crazy to not stay in Massachusetts, right? Wrong. I was ready to get out.

A mentor once told me, “If there is anything in life to be selfish about, it is your own education.” Your college decision is a prime example of that.

I knew that for me, I needed an experience unlike any other, and I knew that it had to be away from home. I was far too comfortable where I was, and I wasn’t being challenged.

A college in a completely different state was exactly where I was going to be put to the test – a healthy test. 

The word  “independence” rang in my head for months on end while deciding where to attend. I realized in high school that to want the results, you have to put the work in.

The effort you put forth and the ethic that guides you define your results. So if you are willing to work for it, do it. 

Pros and Cons of Attending College Out of State

One of the biggest challenges, if not the biggest, is cost of education. Like many other students, I did not come from a family that had thousands of dollars to have for school alone.

I was not the only student my parents were sending to school either, so I knew going into the process that if I wanted an out-of-state school, I had to have out-of-state money. That’s where scholarships became my best friend.

My dad has this quote that no matter how annoying and repetitive it gets, it is always true. “The squeaky wheel always gets the oil.” If you are not making yourself heard, your voice will go unnoticed. If you want to achieve something but aren’t going to put in the work for it, you cannot expect to get it.

I – like some of you reading this – yearned to go out of state. I needed to grind and find scholarships that were going to help me accomplish my dreams. I was that squeaky wheel.

It didn’t matter how large or small the competition; if it was an open application, my name was going in. There are so many resources online that can connect you to scholarships (Niche is one of those platforms!). 

The truth is, I didn’t win every scholarship, but I won some (and let me tell you, those smaller amounts ADD UP!). What kept me going was my vision of a new place. By not losing sight of my goal, I never lost motivation to apply. So apply, apply, and apply again!

If there is any advice that I can give you, it is this. There is no one to go to school for but you. Not your parents or your siblings. Not your favorite coach or teammate. Just you.

This doesn’t mean you are alone; all the people who guided you along the way will still be there to support you. But in your new space, where you will find truths about your foundations as a person and expand on the beliefs you carry ever so strongly, you will thrive with new friends, new leaders, and new chosen family.  

My ultimate goal of college was to learn about myself in a world that could be driven by service to all. To build myself into the character I was already becoming and foster stronger habits to help me grow into a well rounded individual. To be somewhere other than Massachusetts.

I had learned so much in my years living in Boston. I learned to navigate and serve my community through collection drives and cleanups and have made lifelong friends.

But with college as my next step, I had to break away and connect in a new community. This is exactly what you will do, too. Take the strength, pride, and joy you have from home, and bring it to your new campus and show them what you’re made of (and from!).

For those who continue to think about it, go for it. You will succeed, and you will prevail from the challenges.

Yes, it can be hard to take a step away from everything you know, but that might be exactly what you need to become the best version of yourself.

No one will ever take home away from you. I wear my Red Sox hat around campus with the utmost pride, bright red ‘B’ and all. Trust in you, and all you were taught from home. Bring your dignity to a new place, and accomplish amazing things.

Getting Financial Aid As An Out Of State Student

Author: Alton Jenkins

Alton is a first year student at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. He is double majoring in Psychology & Sports Management, with aspirations to become a Sports Psychologist. When he is not making content for Niche, he is likely riding his bike, watching coming of age films from the 80s, or eating popcorn. And studying, of course!