According to US Census data, the average ratio of in-state to out-of-state students enrolled in higher education institutions is 74 percent, with the highest percentage being Utah and the lowest in Rhode Island, at 91 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
Most people go to school in-state, and I think that should change.
Clearly, there are plenty of advantages to going to college in-state (i.e. financial reasons). And, some in-state experiences may feel a world away, particularly in large states, like California.
However, if possible, I recommend spending those four-years in a completely new place.
I was born and bred in what is consistently rated a top 10 place to live: Fort Collins, Colorado.
However, after college, I found myself in higher education institutions in Exeter, New Hampshire; Portland, Oregon; and Los Angeles, California. Although, people would think I was crazy to leave colorful Colorado, my experiences outside of Colorado were transformative.
After you survive the first few waves of “homesickness,” you’ll thank yourself for making the leap and here's why:
1. Taking risks becomes easier
For many of us, growing up and going to high school surrounded by the same people for years gives us a comfort zone that most are afraid to leave.
The danger of being comfortable is the tendency it has on encouraging complacency. As a high-school graduate, college is one of the first opportunities you have to take a risk and step outside of your comfort zone to try something entirely new.
As the great Mark Twain once remarked, “20 years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
The greatest minds of today are comfortable with risk and uncertainty; they are adaptable and greet change with open arms. Taking calculated risks is what eventually leads you to the goals you have set for yourself and college is a great way to familiarize yourself with risk.
I always ask myself, what is the worst-case scenario? Well, you can return to your comfort zone if you hate it, but I urge you to give it a chance. Embracing change is what life is about.
2. Increases your independence
I had friends in their senior years of college still taking laundry back home to their parents' house on weekends so their moms could do it for them. Thank goodness I wasn’t close enough for this “luxury.”
Going to college far from home, is what I would like to call “adult-life on training wheels.” For the first time, you are not in the comfort of your own home, without parents close enough to cater to your needs.
Alternatively, you are still not responsible for everything that comes with being an adult while you sit in the bubble of a college campus.
Trying your best to replicate what the real-world might be like is what college is for. I rarely remember math equations or Spanish grammar, but I do remember all the intangible life skills I've slowly accumulated to prepare me to move into my first apartment in a big city.
Things as simple as oil changes, doctor visits, grocery shopping and time management were all tasks for which I relied too much on parents to complete during my youth. Going to college out of state forces you to learn normal, everyday things on your own.
Sink or swim is part of what becoming responsible is all about.
3. A new appreciating for your upbringing
Before I left small-town Colorado, I began to realize all that I took for granted. I realized how great my childhood friends really were, how much my parents did for me and even what weaknesses I had in my development because in reality, I was a little sheltered.
Seeing new places is great, but living in new places is even better. Going to school out of state gives you a truly temporary time to live in a new state and experience a new surrounding.
Only when you lose something, albeit temporarily, can you truly step back and understand your experience. Youth is one of those experiences, and if you are like me, much of your youth is tied to where you grew up and who you grew up around.
I saw elementary, middle and high school as one big time period. College was the first real, line-in-the-sand life transition I experienced.
Sometime in the middle of my freshman year, after meeting new people and seeing new places, I began to see the clear differences in where I grew up compared to others. It was not for better or for worse, rather, it was a chance to simply observe the difference.
Although some of my new friends came from seemingly perfect families living in the best cities America had to offer, it was in college that I began to appreciate where I came from.
Meeting new people from different backgrounds is amazing; you can learn from them and they can learn from you.
4. Meeting new people
As I began to allude to above, meeting new people from different backgrounds is quite eye-opening. I remember the first day I stepped off the plane in Boston to attend Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.
The airline lost my luggage, class started the next day and I felt pretty helpless. I was going to sleep on a blanket-less, pillow-less bed for the night and wore to school what I wore the day before.
Well, instead of sleeping, I stayed up most of the night talking to the first person I connected with — a future teammate from Colts Neck, New Jersey.
Mitch was his name and even though we couldn’t have been more different, we seemed so similar. Our backgrounds differed immensely, but our interest in basketball was the common ground that started a friendship that is still strong today.
That first encounter in my endeavors after high school showed me how truly exciting it is to meet new people.
Over the years, I have met tremendous people from all different areas of the world.
Sometimes, new friends seem like spitting images of my friends back home and other times, new friends were completely different personalities altogether.
Whatever it may be, interests were usually the common ground to first establish a relationship.
Of so many of life’s philosophies, one that always stood out to me was that you are a product of the five people you choose to spend your most time around, and that is why it is so important to choose your friends wisely.
Ever since taking the risk to attend schools far away from home, I’ve worked to deliberately surround myself with friends who bring out the best in me.
Now that I have moved on from my schools, I still have strong relationships with many of those close friends.
As you grow up, you’ll begin to realize that some friends are great to party with or joke around with, but your best friends find a way to be there for you always.
I’d like to think that going to school out of state introduced me to some of the best people I know today, and that would have never happened if I didn’t take the risk.
So, although there are barriers to going to school out of state, I urge you to consider ways to make it happen.
You won’t regret it.