A student wants— and is demonstrably ready for—a change. There are those students whose adventurous spirits are bursting out of Minnesota’s seams. Curious, ready explorers, and those for whom high school has disappointed, should be free to feed their need for new scenery. The key word here is “ready,” though, says Jobey Lichtblau, director of admission for North Dakota State University in Fargo (where 56 percent of the incoming freshmen are Minnesotans). Students who have the easiest transitions out of state are those “who are more independent and have made some decisions on their own.”
A particular out-of-state college is the perfect fit. Concordia College in Moorhead is the only midsized private college in its area. “For students in the Red River Valley [on both sides of the Minnesota-North Dakota border], it’s the only game in town. It’s unique in the region,” says Steve Schuetz, vice president for enrollment there. Students who succeed from out of state, he says, “have a good understanding of why they are coming—they have an educational outcome in mind,” and the institution they’ve chosen fits their goals.
You as a parent can handle it. The college choice is not about you—but sometimes it is. “One of the biggest challenges for parents is letting go when their kids first leave home,” says Stephanie Newsom, director of counseling for Wartburg College. If you could be described as a hoverer and your child a free bird, ask yourself: Are you prepared to experience the process of letting go across state lines? Are you ready to keep regular contact to text messages and occasional care packages until the next big holiday? If not, and your student’s eye is wandering, start emotionally letting go now and start letting your student feel the consequences of his or her choices.
It is a sound financial investment. Sometimes scholarships or other financial advantages put the price of an out-of-state college below comparable Minnesota options. But don’t forget to factor in the cost of travel—yours and your student’s—when you run the numbers.
A student’s planned career will push them out of Minnesota eventually. Future oceanography major? Maybe we’re not the state best equipped for employment in that particular field. But other booming economies—like North Dakota’s oil industry (engineers, mechanics, and other technical operations managers) or the aging population of our neighboring states (nursing, public health)—could also push a Minnesota student logically toward another state.
There is a family tradition. If the rest of the family is composed of Buckeyes, Hawkeyes, or Badgers, well, good luck to you, then.