It wasn’t until the summer before my senior year that I realized that I wanted to go to an out-of-state university. I grew up in a small town called Basalt, Colorado, and by small, I mean my graduating class was around 60 students. Since I was six months old, I had gone down every road in that small town and I knew that I was ready for a change.
In my senior year of high school, I applied to 19 different universities. Two of those universities were in-state universities that I applied to as a safety school, the rest were all over the U.S. I applied to schools in California, Washington, New York, Arizona, anywhere that was a state away from Colorado. I got admitted to many of those universities, but in the end, I decided to go to the sunny state of California and attend California Lutheran University.
I committed to CLU after I had attended an overnight program. Throughout the program, I fell in love with the area because it was surrounded by green and hills just like home, but the best part was that the beach was just across one of those hills. I was afraid of telling my aunt about my decision of going out of state, but I knew that this is what I really wanted. When I told her about my decision, she asked me “Why out of state?” and I clearly remember telling her that I wanted to see the rest that was out there, and I was ready to explore it.
Now here I am, four years later, and I am about to be a part of the graduating class of 2021 at California Lutheran University. However, don’t think that I did not struggle as an out-of-state student. Here are some of the pros and cons of being an out-of-state student:
Freedom. I grew up in a Mexican household as a young Latina daughter, so when I tell you I took advantage of the freedom I received when I moved to an out-of-state school, I mean I really took advantage. When you go to a university that is two states away from your home state, you receive a lot of freedom. It’s nice being able to go out whenever you want to and not having someone tell you something about it.
You become independent. This sounds scary, but at the end of the day, it’s a great quality to have. With freedom comes many responsibilities. You have to decide for yourself whether it’s better to stay in and study for your exam or go out with your friends. You have to make decisions for yourself because no one else is going to be there to do it for you. I promise this isn’t as scary as it sounds and eventually you learn to become responsible, and you learn to make the right decisions for yourself.
New People. Towards the end of senior year, I realized that I was ready to meet new people. I had known most of the kids at my high school since elementary school, which is not rare. But in my defense, we rarely received any new kids at my high school. I was also ready to meet people who were passionate about the same things I was, and I was intrigued by wanting to learn about other people and their ideas.
Location. I was smart to commit to a University where there is absolutely no snow and I can easily drive down to the beach. California is a beautiful state, and it was definitely a different setting compared to Colorado. If you go to an out-of-state school, I recommend going to a state where you are going to enjoy the weather. I wouldn’t recommend going to a state where you would hate the weather. You also get to explore a new area and find where the best Mexican restaurant is, or the spot where everyone goes to.
Now so far it all seems like a great choice, but you also have to think about the cons of being an out-of-state student.
Homesick. Yes, this is real. I used to think that it wouldn’t happen to me, but I got super homesick my first semester of college. I even considered transferring to Colorado State University. However, one of my mentors told me to give the spring semester a shot before I decided to transfer. So, I did. And like I mentioned before, here I am soon to be graduating. Even if you don’t get super homesick, you probably will get a little homesick. Eventually, you are going to be missing your family’s cooking.
It’s okay to get homesick. If you end up getting homesick, I recommend giving your parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, etc. a call to say hi and catch up. I would also find ways to get involved and keep yourself busy. My first semester I rarely went out with friends and I wasn’t super involved. When the spring semester started, I signed up for every club that seemed interesting to me and I went to many meetings to figure out which clubs I wanted to become involved in. I even ran for student government. I became super involved which allowed me to meet new people and be able to make my own group of friends. Eventually, I started to feel better about being far away from home.
Sometimes you get lonely. Another reason why I wanted to transfer my first semester at CLU was that I felt very lonely. My roommates would drive home for the weekend as well as many of my friends. The bad thing about being out-of-state is that it’s hard for you to do that, especially if it takes 13 hours to drive back home. So yes, there are weekends where it’s just you and you do get lonely.
However, as I mentioned before, go out, get involved, and make friends. I made some out-of-state friends that would also stay during weekends and breaks. Keeping yourself busy is one of the best ways to deal with this. Whether it’s through school involvement, an internship, a job, or a hobby, finding something to keep yourself entertained is helpful.
You don’t know anyone, like literally no one. Since you are out-of-state, that usually means that you don’t know anyone near the area. That was me. No one from my high school came to CLU, and I did not have any family near me. So, as I mentioned before, you do get lonely, but at the same time, that means you actually have to go out and socialize with people to make friends.
I was lucky to get accepted into a summer program where I stayed a whole week before school started along with other first years students. Throughout that week I made friends, so on my first day of school, I already knew a couple of people. If the university you are interested in offers a program similar to that, I recommend applying or finding a way to attend that program. Apart from that, throughout the many ways that I got involved in school, I began to meet new people who shared similar interests as me. I also made it a goal to become friends with the person I sat with on the first day of class. The most important thing to remember is that everyone else is also trying to make a friend.
Moving in/Moving out. Being an out-of-state student gets hard when moving out day or moving in day comes along. Moving out is dreadful because if you are flying back home, that means that you can’t take everything with you. Over the years you buy things that you may need or that you like, and eventually, you have so many items in your dorm that you can’t take back home.
I recommend renting a storage unit with your roommates or a group of friends. My roommates and I did this each summer, and we saved a lot of money doing this. I promise this is super helpful because then you don’t have to be carrying everything with you back home and then back to school in the fall.
Overall, being an out-of-state student was one of the proudest accomplishments I have achieved, and I am really glad that I put myself out of my comfort zone. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would still choose to go to an out-of-state university. There are probably many other pros and cons about being an out-of-state student, but in the end, you should make the decision that you feel is going to make you happy.