College searches can often be stressful, over-stimulating, and a time-consuming effort. You can multiply that times 10 when you decide to look for a school that is out of your home state. Visiting campus is a crucial point of contact that students should strongly consider making before they choose a college or university. Looking at out-of-state colleges could warrant long car rides, expensive plane rides, and many hotel stays.
With that said, going to an out-of-state college can also be an incredibly rewarding, eye-opening, and life-changing experience. If you have any inkling to look outside of your home state, I highly recommend it. As a person that attended, and loved, a school out of my home state, I have some recommendations as you begin your out-of-state search.
Make a List of “Wants”
What are you hoping to get from your college experience overall? Think about things like size (big, medium, or small), majors and minors, and what kinds of experiences you hope to gain in college (i.e., study abroad, internships, career goals, and social experience). Yes, social experiences like friendships and community are a HUGE part of college life and you should 100 percent consider the social aspects of your education and what will be the best for you.
After you make this list of wants, talk to family, friends, or whoever is helping you with your college search and do some searching online to find some schools that you think might be a good fit for you. If you don’t exactly know what you want, that’s completely fine! I would recommend visiting some of your neighboring colleges and universities to see what might be a good fit for your list of wants. Remember, visiting is crucial!
Narrow Down Some Locations
Once you have your list of wants in a university, start thinking about WHERE you’d like to go. Maybe next to an ocean, a big city, the mountains, etc. Some students take into factor if they have close friends or family that happen to live nearby an out-of-state college they’re looking at and some students do not factor this in at all. It’s totally up to you!
One thing I would highly recommend is to look into locations you might not normally be interested in. Are you from a city? Check out some schools in small towns. Live in the mountains? Check out some flat land. I can guarantee you that there is more than meets the eye at many colleges and you may just find your own “diamond in the rough.” Allowing different locations a chance to surprise you. I promise you won’t regret it!
Find Your "Vibe”
After you’ve thought about what you want in a college and where you might want to go, next you need to find your vibe! Make a list of college and universities that fit these categories and then do a deep dive. Visit their website, talk with an admissions representative, take an online “virtual tour” if their website has it, and try your best to get a feel for campus without having to visit.
Once you have your “short list”... go and visit! You will 100% never know what a campus is like until you step foot on it. It could flip your perspective. Trips can get expensive, so kill two birds with one stone and take tours of campuses when your family is on vacation, if you take a school trip, or a even a church mission trip.
The college search process can be challenging and certainly isn’t linear. Hopefully these tips will help you on the right track to choosing an out-of-state college!