I talked to a mom last week who wanted me to help her son find wonderful colleges that would would award him a scholarship, but her top priority is keeping him as close to home as possible.
The San Diego mom wants him to attend a California college. She also seemed to rule out Northern California as too far away.
Why does he have to attend college nearby?
“I’d miss my baby,” she explained. And she added, “He would miss my food.”
I tried to explain to her that he’d enjoy many more educational opportunities — and chances for scholarships and/or financial aid – if he could cast a wider net, but she shut me down. The mom might seem extreme, but most teenagers don’t seriously consider attending a college outside their state.
I checked figures today from the National Center for Education Statistics and here is what I found:
Nearly 83% of students attend four-year colleges and universities in their own states. The number is even higher for students who end up at state universities — 90.5% of them never leave their state. In contrast, 44% of students who select private colleges do cross their state lines.
Affluent students are more likely to choose out-of-state schools. Among families with incomes over $100,000, 21% attended either private or public institutions out-of- state. In comparison, 9% of students coming from families with incomes of $40,000 or less, attended out-of-state schools.
The Most Adventurous College Students
Among ethnic groups, Asians are the most adventurous. Twenty-one percent of Asian students attend college elsewhere compared with nearly 7% of Hispanics, 14% of African-Americans and 13% of whites.
The average distance between home and school for students who stay in their respective states is 189 miles for state schools and 349 miles for private schools.
What really blew my mind, however, is what the median distance from home to campus is for American college students. For four-year private schools, the median distance is 49 miles and it’s 30 miles for four-year public universities.
I find this ironic since schools farther away will sometimes cost less for promising students than schools nearby. I think that’s even more true today with the problems public universities are experiencing in some states.
Of course, I’m biased. I just checked Mapquest and discovered that my daughter’s college is 2,576 from our house and my son’s is 2,050 miles away. And they, by the way, are doing fine. Knock on wood.