Some HHS seniors choose to leave Pennsylvania for college

Emma Quillen, Reporter

HHS Senior Jenny Kim inside the Hershey Theatre on May 4th, 2017. Kim is planning to attend the University of Virginia this fall. (Caroline Corcoran/HHS Broadcaster)

With the end of the 2017-18 school year approaching, many Hershey High School students are committing to the universities that they will be spending their next four years.

Since Pennsylvania contains a wide variety of colleges from art schools to Ivy Leagues, it is very common for HHS students to commit to a university within the state. However, another percentage of students see the benefit of branching out of Pennsylvania to continue their education.

In the class of 2017, 42 of the 94 colleges committed to by students were outside of PA. In 2016, 25% of the graduating class chose to go to a university outside of Pennsylvania, and 38% went to an in-state university.

With the large numbers of students leaving Pennsylvania, there must be some good reasons supporting it.

Many students choose to leave PA for college because they find a college that academically satisfies them.

Depending on what a student is majoring in, they could see the benefit of choosing a school that may be out-of-state, but has a more suitable program for their future career. Many of the most prestigious medical schools, law schools, and even military academies are located outside of Pennsylvania.  

Senior Jenny Kim committed to the University of Virginia.  She said that a specific reason she chose UVA is because of “its connection to their hospital and the opportunities for research and things besides academics.”

Natalie Holsinger, committed to Syracuse University located in New York, also valued her academics when choosing a college.

“I wanted a private institution with great academics. Syracuse also offered me a slot in their honors school, merit money, and a slot in their business leadership program,” said Holsinger.

If a student is offered special honors or scholarships to a school out-of-state, that may be a reasonable reason for the student to consider the university.

Though academics are a very necessary component to consider when choosing a university, it is also important for students to find a good fit away from academics. Social reasons may also play a large role in a students decision to leave the state.

Holsinger chose her university because she found Syracuse University was socially a good fit. Holsinger said, “I realized that I wanted a school with school spirit, sports, and a traditional social life.” These are all things that Syracuse University offers.

Finally, a major factor that goes into choosing in-state versus out-of-state is financials. College is already very expensive, so difference in cost between in-state versus out-of-state may play a big role for many students. State universities receive money from their state government through taxes. Due to this, it is typically drastically cheaper for state residents to attend college within their state.

According to research done by the George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, the average in-state tuition at a public university is $6,752. The average out-of-state tuition at a public institution is $15,742, meaning a student would save $8,990 by going to a university within their state.

However, if a student finds a school that socially and academically satisfy them, they may decide that the extra money toward tuition is worth it.

Distance aside, the most important thing for students to determine when choosing their college is whether or not the next four years will be enjoyable for them.  

A lot of students traveling out of Pennsylvania for college find that distance for them is neither a deal breaker or a positive.

Kim explained that her decision of going to an out-of-state university was not necessarily intentional. “I would’ve gone in state or out of state,” said Kim.

“The campus is beautiful and it felt like a future home instead of just a place of learning,”said Kim.

With the many excellent college options that Pennsylvania offers, students may overlook the fact that amazing opportunities may lie outside PA borders. HHS students should remember to acknowledge academic and social benefits of out-of-state colleges when choosing a university.