For some people, choosing a college to go to is a natural process. For others, it can be scary and overwhelming with all the options out there. Out-of-state schools are sometimes a very solid option, but you have much more to consider when choosing to go to an out-of-state school. The most obvious being the cost of tuition (unless it’s a private school) is immediately higher than in-state. Not to mention the cost of travel anytime you want to visit family.
What questions should you be asking yourself and your prospective school to better understand if it is truly the best fit for you? Below are four tips from student-athletes who have chosen out of state schools.
- What type of scholarships / financial aid does this school offer?
As student-athletes, we all hope to get athletic scholarships, but they are not near as common as we’re led to believe. Aside from a few big-name sports at DI schools, most athletic scholarships are equivalency, not headcount, meaning that they give you a certain amount, usually much less than enough to cover tuition, rather than a full-ride. Out-of-state schools charge much higher tuition than in-state schools, so if your athletic scholarship doesn’t cover your expenses, you need to make sure the school offers other opportunities to make your attendance there affordable.
Related: Shortfalls of Athletic Scholarships
- What are the academic requirements and opportunities?
This question is important regardless of where the school is: will you get accepted? Once you do get accepted, what opportunities does this school offer you that you can’t get at schools in your own state? Make sure to choose a school that helps you accomplish your academic and career goals, not just your athletic goals.
- At what level of competition does my sport play?
Does the school play in a division that you feel you will fit in? Some athletes would rather be “Division I athletes” and never get playing time, whereas others would choose to play DII or DIII if it meant they will get to play.
Additionally, DI schools usually require a greater time commitment than DII schools, and likewise DII more than DIII. You should consider this when choosing a school/team to commit to because being a college athlete is a big time commitment, and you need to choose a team that will fit your lifestyle and expectations.
- Will my family and friends be able to watch my games/meets?
This is a big one. If you have the kind of family that goes to every game, are you going to make it too difficult for them to attend your games if you move out-of-state? Do they have the resources and time to travel to your games? If not, does your school offer accessible livestream options?
- Am I experiencing the “Home away from home” feeling?
It’s important that you feel “at-home” at your new college. The first term of college can be really hard for some student-athletes, but making sure you feel comfortable and like you belong can be helpful in overcoming those feelings of homesickness.
- Why do I want to go out-of-state?
Are you considering going out-of-state because you love the school, because the coach is recruiting you, or because you want to get far away from home? Answering this question and knowing your priorities will make it much easier for you to decide whether it’s worth going out-of-state.
If you simply want to get away from home, many states are big enough that you can go to an in-state school that is still a many-hour drive from home, with a much smaller price tag.
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