Exterior shot of Isenberg Business Innovation Hub
Student Voices

Things to Consider When Applying to College Out-of-State

If you dream of attending college out-of-state, then you have found the right blog. As an out-of-state student at the University of Massachusetts myself, I have experienced firsthand what it is like to take the next step of your life in a completely new environment. Meeting new people, making unique memories, and sharing culture and climate outside of your comfort zone can be challenging at times, but inevitably extremely rewarding. This blog will discuss the main points of consideration if you plan to venture beyond state borders for college. 

1. Academics

The first step in developing a list of prospective colleges, in or out of state, is to establish an academic plan. What major are you interested in? What job do you hope to secure after college? Are you interested in a subprogram or minor? What kind of environment do you learn best in— lecture-style with emphasis on online work or in a small collaborative classroom? These questions can often be hard to answer, and it is okay to not be entirely confident in your future. However, it is important to have a good sense of where to kick off your education. 

Now is the time to develop a list of schools, asking yourself questions like, does the school offer the right program and major for me? What does the school’s rank look like? Are there opportunities for involvement outside of the classroom to diversify my skills? Looking through alumni activity and scholarly achievements can also be beneficial when researching schools. Cultivating a list of colleges that meet your academic wants and needs is the first step in finding the right university for you despite the distance from home.

2. Environment and culture 

Academics alone, however, are not the only factor in determining your future college, especially if you plan on making the journey out of state. It is also essential to consider the physical environment where you will spend the next four years. East coast, west coast, or central? Beach or mountain? Are you most comfortable in a place like Arizona, Florida, or Southern California that experiences warmth most if the yeat? Or do you prefer a climate similar to Massachusetts, with four distinct seasons? Have you dreamt of attending college in a bustling, big city? Maybe San Diego or New York, which offer a melting pot of people, cultures, and experiences. Or will a quieter and more familiar environment, with people similar to you, support your needs? While these questions may seem simple and maybe not so important, they are crucial when planning this next step. Ensuring a positive experience at college begins with making sure you will feel comfortable and supported within your physical environment. 

3. Cost to attend

Cost should not be the only reason to stop your college search at state borders. But, it is important to research all cost options and do some financial planning before committing to a university, whether in or out of state. Remember that there are many scholarship opportunities, work-study programs, and financial aid options to consider. For many, attending college out of state ended up being lower cost after taking advantage of scholarships and aid.

4. Independence 

Before committing to a college out of state, reflect on if you are ready for the independence that comes with it. College out of state can mean visiting home less often, going without seeing family and friends for longer periods, and adapting to a completely new environment. Independence like this, at our age, can be scary to adapt to, along with everything else college brings, but as an out-of-state student myself I can say that it is also very exciting. Managing my schedule and being completely self-motivated is rewarding. Finding my favorite coffee shops and study spots, enjoying  going for walks in my new surroundings, and making new friends and memories has been wonderful. In the end, the independence has been my favorite thing about going to a college out of state.