Things to Consider when Looking at an Out-of-State Public University

Originally from Southeastern Pennsylvania, here I am writing this post in my dorm at an out-of-state public university in Virginia. Now although I have become a resident of Virginia (due to unforeseen circumstances) and will begin to pay in-state tuition next year, I still chose Virginia Tech with the plan to be an out-of-state student for four years.

There are a few things to consider when looking at out-of-state public universities. Of course, and in my opinion, the most important thing is the overall environment of the school. You want to make sure that you are looking at schools that you are really going to enjoy attending. Many state schools have major athletic programs, while some focus more on the arts. Whatever your interest is, although you will probably find it at all public universities, make sure you will be able to actively participate in it at the schools that you are looking at.

An important factor to examine when looking at out-of-state public universities is the strength of the respective university’s academic programs. Some public universities are world-renowned for their academic programs, with a few examples listed here –

Business: University of Virginia, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina

Engineering: University of California Berkeley, Georgia Tech, Purdue University

Journalism/Communications: University of Florida, University of Georgia, Indiana University

though there are countless other great public universities  and many other academic disciplines. Taking a look at what academic departments the universities you are applying to are known for can help you compare them to the programs at your in-state schools. For me personally, Virginia Tech has a comparable Biochemistry program to Penn State University, however Virginia Tech has a much better Animal Science program with one of the best veterinary schools in the country on campus. This Animal Science program drew me more to Tech because I have always considered adding the degree in the pursuit of attending veterinary school one day.

Another thing to take into consideration is the difference between the tuition costs of your respective in-state universities and the out-of-state universities you are considering. Pennsylvania has some of the most expensive state schools in the country, including Penn State University and the University of Pittsburgh, with Pennsylvania parents paying 41% of their household income a year at an in-state university, as compared to the national average of 28%. Keeping this in mind, I chose to apply to out-of-state public universities because some of their out-of-state tuition costs were comparable to Pennsylvania’s in-state costs. Take a look at how much it would cost to go to your in-state public universities and then compare them to the out-of-state universities you are looking at. The comparability between the two tuitions might surprise you and might even make you reconsider how affordable public, out-of-state tuition can be.

In addition, there are a number of opportunities students can use to reduce tuition. For instance, if a college in your home state does not offer your major many colleges will allow you to pay the in-state fee at an out-of-state school. Furthermore, many institutions offer numerous merit scholarships to offset the tuition differential.

One last thing to look at, if you are interested in pursuing it at school, is the emphasis on research. Many public schools have a heavy emphasis on research and receive funding from their respective states to pursue different research fields. Take a look to see if certain schools are currently doing research that interests you. Maybe their respective states allocate more funding towards that research area, which would enable you to be more heavily involved later in you time at university.

Remember, not any one of these topics should be your sole reasoning behind choosing to attend an out-of-state public university. Keep all of these things in mind when making your final decision and make sure the additional cost, whatever it may be, of attending an out-of-state public university is worth it. Whether you end up at an in-state, out-of-state, public, or private school, make sure you find a school that you’re really excited to attend – it’ll be worth it.

Have questions for Kate? Ask her in the comment box below.