Five Reasons Why You Should Consider Attending Your State University

Saturday, Nov. 8th 2008 3:33 PM

Often times, during the college application process, the average high school senior gives very little consideration to his or her state university.

For many students, the state school may seem too close to home. For others, it could be that the school is simply too large.

University of FloridaBut most often, for those who have worked so hard to put themselves in the position of being able to go to college, the local university simply does not carry enough prestige.

While this viewpoint is understandable, students should begin the college selection process with a careful look at what their state university has to offer. There are many features to review when considering a school, but there are five great reasons why that review should begin with an in-depth look at your local university.

Higher Admission Rates
If you have put together a solid four years of high school then your chances of being accepted at your local state university are very good. Getting in may seem like a forgone conclusion, but those applying to the elite schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, face some of the lowest acceptance rates going (less than 10% at last check).

However, even schools like Boston College, UCLA and Davidson routinely reject roughly three out of every four applicants. Admission rates trend much higher at state colleges, with in-state candidates generally receiving priority status.

State universities represent some of the best educational bargains available. Private college costs today average $33,000 per school year but it is not uncommon to see costs topping $40,000 annually and a few have reached the $50,000 a year plateau.

In contrast, the University of Florida costs in-state students less than $12,000 a year. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the school heading the Kiplinger top 100 best buys, has a sticker price of a shade under $14,000. With average after-aid costs totaling less than $5,000 per year, students at UNC can attend four years and still put some hard earned dollars aside for the possibility of graduate school.

Diverse Curricula and Program Options
Most experts will tell you, everything academically available at an elite college can be found at many state universities. In fact, the vast majority of state universities offer very strong degree programs and can claim a lengthy history of successful and high-powered graduates.

With almost unlimited major and career options, students attending a state university can still major in business yet minor in a foreign language, study engineering while minoring in communications, even obtain a general liberal arts degree if they see fit. The options are truly endless.

And with that wealth of options available, there is less pressure to have a major set when you begin your studies. At a state university, you can actually change your major and move to a different program within the school, often doing so while still keeping your credits. Transferring out to another school to change majors can be very costly in terms of dollars and time.

Diverse Campus Activities
University of GeorgiaThe size of the state university means that a wealth of extracurricular options will be available. While most schools will offer some level of sports as well as leadership opportunities, the number of special-interest clubs, newspapers, theater and music options are far greater at state universities. At the University of Georgia alone there are more than 500 student clubs and organizations.

In addition, the state university will by its nature see a very diverse student body, including socio-economic and academic diversity. Though they do hand-pick students, the elite schools try desperately to find ways to ensure some level of diversity on their campuses. At a state college, the less rigorous entrance criteria ensures that social diversity happens naturally.

Proximity to Home
Part of the college experience is the opportunity to get away from home and spread one’s wings. However, there will actually come a time when some of mom’s home cooking will seem like dining out and that old bed in your room will offer a familiar comfort you never knew existed.

Being at your local state school means you have the chance to get home at least for all the major holidays, and if is not too far from home, even for a weekend from time-to-time. In addition, the sheer number of students from across the state guarantee a chance to hitch a ride to within a few miles from home.

Editors note: The list of the best school buys at features primarily state universities.

Flickr photo courtesy of bnp.

3 comments on "Five Reasons Why You Should Consider Attending Your State University"

  • I know a lot of students that are considering state schools instead of private schools because of the economic downturn. If you want the private school feel, but don’t want to pay the private school price tag, you should also consider applying for the honors college programs within your state school. A lot of my high school classmates went to James Madison at Michigan State University and had a great experience there. I would highly recommend that option.

  • When going to college, students start a new life, mainly different from the one they used to live before. Most of them are leaving their houses and family for the first time. This can be a hard task for them and meeting new people and making friends is a key factor for them to not feel homesickness. Living on campus in the first year it is probably the best alternative for a student that is moving alone for the first time and want to meet new people.
    Despite the fact that living on campus on the first year is the best alternative for the students, many of them are not able to do this move because of the high prices that are charged. College dorms are in average more expensive than a room of the same size off campus. Some other university policies make it even harder for students with a short budget to live on campus. To illustrate that, a good example is the policy at the University of South Florida, which obligates a first year student that wants to live on campus and buy a meal plan.
    Universities should try to attract all students to live on campus at least for the first year of their college life. I had an experience leaving off campus last year but I really enjoy the atmosphere that I experience now that I live on campus. I think this opportunity is unique and everyone should be able to live it.

    Lucas Jovita

  • I still don’t get what is so good about this college

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