Earlier this week, my cousin who’s a senior in high school posted on Facebook that s/he had been accepted to an Excellent University in another state. A comment from one of my cousin’s Facebook friends caught my attention. “Excellent U must have a special degree program for you to want to go so far away! What will your degree be in?” Cousin replied that s/he doesn’t have a major yet, it’s just a great university in a state where s/he has always wanted to live.
Those contrasting attitudes about university geography interested me. As a high school student, I always assumed I would “go away” to college. College was when you got to have the experience of living in a new place, duh! But many of my classmates had always assumed they would attend school in state. Why pay out-of-state or private-school tuition when you could stay close to your family in the awesome state of Colorado, duh!
I continue to be interested in the “going away to college” culture because it’s struck me as one of the biggest differences between university in Canada and in the US. The impression I’ve gotten from talking to Canadian adults is that in Canada, the culture of staying local is much stronger than the culture of going away to college. (Canadians, please correct me if I’m wrong.)
So I’m curious: when you applied to college, what was your attitude towards “going away” to school? Did you assume you’d stay local unless there was a special degree program you couldn’t get close to home? Did you think that college was a time to get away and apply to schools regardless of distance? Or did you fall in between these extremes, applying to a mix of in-state and out-of-state schools? Obviously, cost is going to be a big factor in these decisions, so my bonus question for those comfortable sharing is: what role did finances play in your decision to attend in-state or out-of-state schools?
I’ll start us off. I applied only to schools out-of-state — I assumed that was what college was for and my parents endorsed my plan. In retrospect we were all quite naive about the financing. We assumed there would be some loans involved, but we didn’t quite understand how many loans. I also didn’t anticipate that my favorite school might not be the one to offer me the best financial aid package. As it turned out, my top choice offered me a buttload of loans while a school slightly lower on my list offered me an incredible scholarship. I tearfully sent in the “no thanks” card to my dream school and took the scholarship. I have never, ever regretted it. (Bless you, Generous Donors at PC’s Alma Mater.)