The Ivy Coach Daily

September 28, 2022

Out-Of-Staters Attending Public Universities

A piece up on Slate focuses on students attending public universities outside of their home states.

Interested in attending an out-of-state public university? If so, know that there are a few top universities in our nation that happen to be public schools. From the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Los Angeles to the University of Virginia, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, among a couple of others, a select number of states within our union boast some of our nation’s finest institutions. But let’s be real. These states are the exception, not the rule. The flagship universities of most states aren’t particularly selective and don’t boast outstanding educations.

It’s why we’re a little bit perplexed by the trend of students choosing to attend not particularly selective public universities in states in which they do not reside. Now, don’t get us wrong. We get why these public universities are admitting these students. After all, out-of-staters pay more than in-staters at state flagships. So the more out-of-state students they can enroll, the more tuition dollars they can take in. Yet, we would argue, that a degree from some of these state flagships isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. So, first, are a lot of students choosing to go out-of-state to attend various public universities?

Yes! As John Warner reports in a piece for Slate entitled “One of Higher Ed’s Worst-Kept Secrets Is Out. It’s Even Grimmer Than We Knew.,” “Many of these quasi-flagships are seeing similar shifts in the proportion of out-of-state students. Clemson University’s freshman classes are now essentially 50-50 in-state–out-of-state. Purdue University is not Indiana’s flagship university, but it has a larger undergraduate population than Indiana University, and only 45 percent of these students are Indiana residents…Based on (pre-pandemic) 2018 data, California exported the largest number of students to other states (over 36,000), followed by Illinois (32,000) and New Jersey (31,000). California has a ton of higher education capacity, but it still isn’t sufficient to serve the number of students who want to pursue a post-secondary credential in a large university setting.”

But why are these students choosing to attend public universities outside of the states in which they reside, you ask? That remains a mystery to us. Sure, we absolutely get it if students are applying to the likes of UMichigan, UVA, UNC, the UC schools, etc. But for the University of Alabama? We get it. They’ve got a great football team. Roll Tide. But should students from outside of Alabama really be paying out-of-state tuition to attend a public university that isn’t widely considered to be a particularly selective university? After all, in 2022, as an example, the University of Alabama’s overall admission rate stood at over 80%! We don’t happen to think so.

In short, we get why these public universities want the out-of-state students. But we don’t get why the out-of-state students want them — unless it’s one of our nation’s top public universities. In that case, it makes sense all around!

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