Tips for going to college out-of-state

Are you considering going to college out-of-state? Here’s some advice and tales of experience from a Californian who moved out-of-state for college 4 years ago hardly knowing a soul where she was going.

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High-low button-up: Cotton On / Leather jacket: Thrifted / Boots: JustFab

Photos by Lydia Yekalam Photography

I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into by clicked that acceptance button to commit myself to attending the University of Washington back in 2012. 4 years later in my last quarter here, though it hasn’t been an easy journey, I have no regrets about my college choice. I mean, what fun is a life without all the ups and downs that make you really appreciate life in its entirety? For all of you high school seniors who are starting to receive college acceptance/rejection letters, here’s my advice which I hope will help you in your decision should you decide to go out-of-state!

  • The homesickness is inevitable, but it will make you stronger and more independent in the end.

It’s hard when you see all of your in-state friends going home for the weekend and coming back with food and all kinds of goodies from their family. It’s just a reality you have to face, but eventually we will have to move out of our parent’s home and become independent adults, so this is good preparation for your future! If anything, I truly feel much more appreciative of my family by being so far away from them.

  • If financials are a major factor for you, going out-of-state will probably not be your cheapest option.

This can depend on what your college decision pool looks like. For me, I was deciding between some in-state private universities and out-of-state public universities, and they ultimately ended up being around the same cost for tuition. It can also depend if your out-of-state college location is in an expensive metropolitan area or a low-cost rural area, especially when it comes to affording off-campus housing. However, the biggest difference is that your cost for airplane tickets and daily living necessities plus any miscellaneous fun spendings may be skewed towards the higher cost end for out-of-state.

  • Speaking of financials, it’s important to figure out what to do with all of your stuff and/or housing during the summer (if you’re planning to go back home, that is).

Now, this is something I really didn’t think of until it was actually happening. From finding a subletter for my apartment so that I wouldn’t have to pay rent and utilities for the summer months when I wasn’t planning to stay at school to securing a proper storage place to put all of my belongings while I was gone, there is a lot of planning ahead to be done for out-of-state living. Moving all your stuff around, especially furniture, is next to impossible by yourself, so make sure you plan ahead and enlist a friend or see if your parents can come up and help you if need be.

  • If you’re not planning to bring your car with you to college, get comfortable using public transportation or your university’s provided student transportation.

Oh how I wish I had my car at school, especially during those rainy days where I have no choice but to get soaking wet running after buses or to feel like I’m freezing into an ice cube waiting for the bus to come. As nice as it is to have a car at school, for some people, it’s just simply not an option. Luckily, most colleges, especially large ones like UW, provide students with great transportation alternatives. For example, we get the UPASS which we pay yearly for an unlimited bus/train pass. There are also plenty of student deals for Uber, Lyft, Zipcar, Car2go, and more. Seattle also has a great public transportation system that can get you practically anywhere in the Puget Sound region. Therefore, do check if where you’re considering to go out-of-state has an easily accessible public transportation system and do check what the university has to offer for students without a car. Trust me, you’ll want to know about all of this when you’re bored and stuck on campus when there’s nothing going on at school.

  • Check if your medical insurance covers out-of-state costs.

If it doesn’t, you’ll have to be sure to schedule all of your checkups and other appointments for the breaks when you’re back home. UW offers 1 free visit to the school nurse, so if your university offers that do take advantage of it.

  • Be prepared for a brand-new cultural experience.

This is what I absolutely love about going to school out-of-state. It has allowed me to experience life in a completely different community with an entirely different set of people. I hardly knew more than a handful of people coming to UW, and that was great actually. It pushed me to put myself out there and make new friends. People from another state are typically going to be very different from people from your homestate. You may have to work on breaking into their in-state bubble and adjusting to the culture, and that’s totally okay. Don’t shy away from talking to international students as well if your school has any! I’ve met so many great friends from all across the world and from states outside of California, and that makes me feel like my worldview has improved and become even more open-minded outside of the California bubble.

Anyway, I could go on and on about my experience going to college out-of-state, but in an effort to make this blog post as concise as possible, here’s some of my thoughts thus far. I hope this was helpful in some way in helping you make your college decision. If you’re curious about more, feel free to leave a comment down below! 🙂

Most of all, best of luck to all of you out there applying to colleges ❤

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