Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions
Plymouth State University,
New Hampshire USA
I am wrapping up my second year as an assistant director of undergraduate admissions at Plymouth State University, where I have been since graduating from Fitchburg State University in 2016 with a BS in communications media. I am originally from southern New Hampshire and currently reside about eight minutes from PSU. When not on campus, you can find me at Lake Winnipesaukee or recruiting new Panthers in central Massachusetts.
You want to be close to home, but not too close, and far enough, but not out of reach. Maybe you’re that really brave student who is ready to say, “see ya!” and dart across the country, unafraid of new places and faces. At least, outwardly you’re unafraid.
As someone who has done this, I’m calling your bluff. It’s terrifying. You’re terrified, and that’s cool. Actually, it’s fantastic because the most terrifying things that we do in our lives are almost always the most awesome. I was a member of the “not too close, not too far” party myself, which is how I ended up enrolled at a medium-sized state university, which was out-of-state for me. (It had over 90 percent in-state residents, I might add.)
So, even though it was an hour from my hometown and barely over the border, I was basically an alien.
I was up for the challenge, though, and that choice is still one of the best I’ve made (right up there with taking a job in Admissions at PSU, a job that I absolutely love). And now that I am here, one of my favorite parts about PSU is the awesome, eclectic mix of out-of-state students that constitutes 50 percent of our campus population.
You might be thinking, wow that’s a high out-of-state ratio, and you are correct—it is! I have spent much time mulling over why that might be and have come up with my own short list of out-of-state benefits. Here goes:
- Location, location, location. It’s like house hunting, right? Residential college campuses present a unique opportunity to spend four years in an area you’ve been dying to explore or want to try before you buy. Is it access to the mountains you’re craving, or movie screening downtown? Think about your preferred lifestyle and then look for schools that fit the bill.Example: I thought I wanted to live in the city but learned from attending college and interning in one that I actually did not. A lesson learned, and wonderfully positive and memorable experience nonetheless!
- One word: priorities. Before you dive down the rabbit hole of out-of-state school shopping, you’ve got to ask yourself some very honest questions. Are you a homebody? What do you want to do in your free time? Can you and will you use public transportation?
If your answers were “yes,” “sleep,” and “no way,” then perhaps we should rethink this.
Things are going to get cheesy for a moment, but please indulge me—it really doesn’t matter what the answers to those questions are for you, as long as they are your answers, and not the echoes of everyone around you.
- The first-year “figure it out:” This was my mom’s favorite phrase as soon as I hopped state lines. Now, two years removed, this is very humorous because I often tell the high school students I work with that the first year of college is the year of figuring stuff out. There’s no way around it; it’s bound to be a little messy, so embrace it.
You could argue that this applies no matter how far from home you are, and you wouldn’t be wrong. I would argue that you’re much less likely to “figure it out” if you’re within close enough proximity to someone who can do it for you.
Don’t know how to properly wash your dorm bedding? Ask your RA. Unsure how long to bake chicken parmesan? Maybe your roommate knows. Can’t get into that prerequisite class you need? Talk to your trusty advisor.
These are excellent, essential life lessons (the figuring-out part, not literally learning how to wash your sheets, but that’s helpful too!). Beyond academic learning, life learning is what universities that are out-of-state for you do best.
Should you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to consult with me. In addition to venturing across state lines in my own undergraduate years, I still travel from my current home in New Hampshire to spend about 50 percent of my time in greater Boston, making me a professional out-of-stater for life.