So it’s that time of year again: college applications are open and high school seniors are all trying to figure out for themselves what universities they could see themselves applying to. For most, if not all, high school seniors, this isn’t a quick-and-easy choice and many factors come into the process when piecing through the pros and cons of certain schools, one of which being the ‘out or in-state’ element. This can be the final issue that pushes a student one way or the other, and rightfully so! This is going to be where you learn for the next four years, where you adventure and explore with friends, and most importantly, where you really find yourself. 

Okay, now I’m over with the cheesy dramatics about college locations, but in all seriousness, the decision to leave your home state to study for four years can be tough! You’ll be away from family and all senses of familiarity to start fresh in a completely new state with new weather, new people, and new everything pretty much. People might say that with USC being in California – a state full of beaches and remarkably sunny weather – it’s a no-brainer. But as much as a picturesque image of California is appealing, you’re going to take a lot more into account when it comes to choosing your final college. It’s hard to know what to do in the moment.

All that being said, I’m here to relieve some of those worries or questions you might be having about this topic. With the sometimes nerve-wracking unknowns of moving away come some really exciting opportunities that can have a truly resounding effect on how you develop in the limited time you have as an undergraduate. For me, going to school in California was a huge positive for me when considering USC. After living in Phoenix, Arizona, for all 18 years of my life and being tired with 120 degree summers and no beach closer than 300+ miles away, moving to Los Angeles seemed like the natural choice. 

But there was more to my decision than just teen cynicism and heat-fatigue. I knew that this would be a chance for me to leave my ‘bubble’ and push myself to grow in a completely new and transformational way. The city of LA itself offers incredible opportunities not just for adventurous outings and good restaurant finds, but for a vast range of job or internship options and connections to be made. And I’ll say it before you can: Arizona is not that far from California to be sure. I truly respect those of my fellow students who made the choice to come here from the other side of the United States or internationally because wow, that is a huge step all at once. Yet I’ve asked some of my friends who fall into this category about this and their answer is pretty much the same: it was completely worth it.

To make it simple, I’m just going to lay out for you the three main reasons in my mind why taking the leap and picking a university outside your current state (or even hometown for that matter) could be one of the greatest decisions you make:

  1. True Independence– When you are more than 100 miles away from your immediate family and truly ‘on your own’ (or as much as you can be while still at school), there is a whole new level of self-reliance. While you’re still supported by your college and family back home, you have to deal with your day-to-day pretty much by yourself which teaches some solid skills in ‘adulting’ and being confident in your abilities 
  2. Seeing A “Whole New World”– Yes, I just quoted Aladdin, don’t mention it… What I mean by saying this is that you’ll be able to experience a whole new atmosphere and lifestyle compared to your home state. New places to eat, new hidden gems to explore around town, a new shift in culture, all things that can really enhance your perspective and knowledge of the world.
  3. Discomfort– This might not sound like an advantage, but being uncomfortable makes you grow in ways you wouldn’t otherwise. It helps you to face future unfamiliarities with greater ease and assurance while also offering you opportunities you may never have encountered had you not left your comfort zone.

All this aside though, it is so tough to weigh all these different thoughts in your head as you try tp piece through all the applications for each college. Whatever you choose, have faith in your choice and be ready for a year of discovery wherever you go. Good luck!

Gianna Beck

Gianna Beck

MAJOR: Computer Science (Games) YEAR: Class of 2023 HOMETOWN: Phoenix, Arizona PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @gianna__b I'm involved with computer science research investigating affective gesturing in robots in the Interaction Lab along with being a Freshman Engineering Academy Coach. Outside of Viterbi, I'm a part of Greek Life, SC Climbing, the Student Alumni Society leadership board, and I am a volunteer at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.