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Deciding on which university to attend can be a major life decision. The questions you ask yourself when deciding are endless. One of the most important questions being; do you want to stay close to home? Or do you want to get as far away as possible? For myself, and others who can relate, it wasn’t necessarily creating the furthest distance between my hometown and college, it was finding a place where I would meet new people. I wanted to get out of Illinois (mainly the Chicago area) and try some place new. After visiting a couple of out-of-state schools, the University of Kentucky seemed like the most logical school, and I completely fell in love with the campus and surrounding city.
There are many challenges that come with being an out-of-state student. The greatest difficulty that comes with being out of state is the financial aspect. For example, according to “GO Financial Aid,” the average difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition in the nation’s top 50 universities is $13,000. That is a massive difference and plays a major factor in the decision process! You also need to consider how far away you are from home if you want to visit often. This can make your decision difficult because depending on the distance you won’t be able to go home as frequently. For myself, I chose a school that is about seven hours away from home. So when there are 3-day weekends and everyone on campus goes home, I am stuck at school, which can become fairly boring and quiet. A great way to combat this is by making friends who are also out-of-state students and planning day trips with them.
Going to an out-of-state school can mean that a majority of your high school friends won’t be attending with you. You have to start over fresh and be outgoing in order to create a new friend group. Meeting new people comes with time so you have to be ready to spend those first few weeks trying to meet as many people as possible. A great way to do this is during class. A great tip I used was introducing yourself to the two people sitting next to you in every class. This will help ease the transition into your new environment and can create life long relationships. Another great way to meet new people is by getting involved. With so many groups and activities on campus, there is something for everyone. For myself, I pledged a fraternity and joined the Global Scholars Program, leading to countless experiences with people I otherwise would not have met. It can also be difficult to fully accept that you will be living most of the year in a place you have never been before. For me, I came to UK not knowing where anything was or how to get around Lexington. A great learning resource to combat this can be found at another one of our blogs called “Favorite Local Restaurants.” Again, learning about your new area comes with time, but you need to be prepared to experience the unknown and have fun exploring your new environment. Chances are you will meet someone in your dorm from Lexington who can really help you get to know the city. I learned my way around the city because my roommate was from Lexington and would take me everywhere.
Deciding to go to a school out-of-state also comes with its advantages. You are going to a place where you don’t know anyone. This allows you to start over again and be the person you want to be. You can completely change yourself from high school to college and create a brand new reputation. This leads to new personal growth, especially because you have to rely on yourself more to be independent and responsible. Going out-of-state can help with this because you will be pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, learning how to navigate through a new city or town, and doing so with new friends. Going to college is all about new experiences and learning from them. By going to a school that is out-of-state, you are forced to take on these brand new experiences and truly learn more about yourself.
Push yourself and test your limits. I can speak from experience that going to a school out-of-state and far from home has made me a more confident and mature person. I don’t have my parents nearby to rely on, and I don’t have that comfort zone from high school to stay in. Going to a school far away from home was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Yes, it has created challenges that I could have avoided, but these challenges gave me knowledge that has helped me grow into the person I am today. I have made Lexington my new home, and I can’t express how happy I am about that. I always look forward to coming back here after breaks and spending the summers living in this amazing city that, three years ago, was a completely new world to me.