This is for those who are still considering which of the colleges to attend to. If one of the colleges on the list is located across the country, consider these factors in your decision:
- Think about your motivation: Is it for the sole purpose of quality of education? Or, is it mostly because you want to get away from your family? If it’s mostly the latter, let me assure you, you’ll eventually miss your family real quick. And, even worse, you won’t be able to visit them during breaks and weekends when your other friends are coming home to hug their parents and siblings and bringing their dirty laundry to do at home… and you’re left paying $4 for laundry every week, missing your mother’s cooking.
- Anticipate that travel costs will be very expensive: Of course, this depends on whether you can afford the numerous plane tickets bought throughout the academic year (roundtrip, cross-country plane tickets cost about $509 on average (time.com)). But to those who can’t afford or would rather save up thousands of dollars, this means… while others are enjoying thanksgiving with their family and close friends from back home, you’re left spending thanksgiving in the dining hall. Sure, at least they have decent gravy and good stuffing, but a true Thanksgiving celebration with loved ones is incomparable. Are you ready for that?? Are you mentally capable to, perhaps, not go back home for winter break or spring break? Are you ready to not see your high school friends for nearly a whole year?
- Take into account the cultural differences…: Of your east coast hometown and your west coast campus environment (or vice versa). If your hometown is a rural town in the east coast, are you ready to take on the urban culture of your west coast institution? What about an overall change in culture -- what about those east coast trend pieces in your wardrobe (i.e. Lilly pulitzer, @kjp & @sarahkjp style) that you had spent time curating and investing in, when you'll end up spending more money to keep up with more current west coast trends (i.e. Stussy, Thrasher, homeless hobo lux style), if you’re into that? If you’re thinking of attending particularly UC Berkeley, are you okay with the extent to which this school is helllla liberal (which means protests every other day and a highly festive celebration of 4/20)?
- Consider the differences in climate, too. As you may or may not know, East Coast (particularly the Northeast) have this awful season called “winter.” Temperatures may go well below freezing point, and cute little white things fall and blanket everything it touches (including you), leaving a beautiful white mess. Since snow is water, therefore it is susceptible to turning into slippery ice; which is the one of the most debilitating weather situations anyone can ever get into. What’s the worst? Being stuck in the middle of a blizzard. On the other hand, the west coast -- particularly in California -- tends to have relatively nicer weather (note: no snow), though you shouldn’t take rainy weather lightly. In many ways, West Coast rainstorms are worse (if not more so) than snowstorms -- for one, events don’t get cancelled as it would if snowstorms are bad enough in the east. Anyway, think about how many umbrellas you’ll go through within the course of a semester, or the many umbrellas you end up purchasing because you didn’t bring one -- hey, the weather forecast said it was going to be sunny! Hmm. Think about your hefty investment in good snow/rainwear. Think about all the extra money spent.
- Consider your vocational aspirations -- a.k.a. your long term plans for your career: Do your research on which coast is more specialized and/or has more opportunities regarding the vocation you want to pursue. Do you want to pursue a career in the technology industry (e.g. Google, Apple, Amazon, etc.)? If so, you may benefit off of the bevy of startup Silicon Valley tech companies continually trying to recruit EE/CS majors in the Bay Area. Furthermore, you may benefit off the many Hackathon events up in NorCal as well. If med school is your thing, East Coast is more premed-friendly, I’d say. Though, NorCal is still a good place for premeds too -- two of the three best medical schools in the world is located right here in good Ol’ Northern California (note: UCSF & Stanford Medical School). Being that it is the Bay Area, volunteering and med-school-resume-boosting opportunities are a-plenty here. However, do take into account that some undergraduate schools in the Bay Area, though its STEM/biological majors may be the nation’s best programs, may be notorious for grade deflation.
Obviously, this list is not comprehensive. There are still a lot of little factors to consider the worth of attending school all the way on the other side of the country. Nonetheless, I hope this helps in deciding where you plan to spend the next four years of your life! Best of luck!