By Bridget Sjoberg |

Recently, I saw a statistic from my high school stating that 60% of the student body graduating in 2018 attended colleges out-of-state. This completely shocked me— I remember lots of students, including myself, that decided to leave my home state of California but never imagined that well over half of this past year’s graduating class left as well.

When I was applying to colleges as a senior in high school, I applied to half in-state and half out-of-state schools and personally chose Baylor for its traditional “college” feel, Christian emphasis and comfortable size.

While there are many reasons that students are persuaded to pick their university of choice, I began to wonder why so many California students like myself chose to leave their home state and attend an out-of-state option.

For more insight, I contacted three students from California who decided to attend out-of-state schools to learn more about the subject.

Renee Gentry is a current sophomore at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, but attended Baylor her freshman year before transferring. She pointed out how pressure from peers, wanting to experience something new and the difficulty of being accepted to some California universities, particular University of California (UC) schools, caused her to go out-of-state initially.

“I think that many Californians decided to go out-of-state because UCs have become very difficult to get into and other California private colleges are expensive,” Gentry said. “Many private out-of-state schools try to match UC tuition through scholarships and financial aid which appeals to California students who are looking to go to big football schools.”

Gentry makes a point— a quality that many students looked for upon choosing a college, including myself, was a traditional “college experience” that included big football, an impressive campus and a noticeable Greek life presence.

“I think that California football schools such as USC and UCs are very competitive to get into,” Gentry said. “Many students who are looking for the typical college football school have to apply to out-of-state colleges in order to get that experience. Sadly, the average student will not get into a UC.”

Matt Ho, a junior at Baylor, also mentioned the difficulty of getting into a “football” school or a UC as a factor in why students choose to leave California.

“Many California students want to attend an out-of-state school because they want to have the full college experience with Division 1 football and basketball and maybe Greek life,” Ho said. “There are schools in California such as USC that have the typical college experience but they are all very hard to get into.”

I found this statement to be particularly interesting and decided to find out if it contained any truth. Upon researching my high school’s college attendance records from my graduating class, I saw that the out-of-state schools with the greatest number of students attending were the University of Oregon, University of Arizona and Texas Christian University. These are all Division 1 football schools with fall 2017 acceptance rates as follows— 83%, 84%, and 41%, respectively.

To compare, I looked up Division 1 football schools in California. There are only eleven total— five I noted as having a culture that places an emphasis on football, with only a couple having recently successful programs. These were are the University of Southern California, UCLA, Stanford University, UC Berkeley and San Diego State. The fall 2017 acceptance rates are as follows— 16%, 16%, 5%,17% and 35%, respectively. All of these schools are noticeably harder to be accepted to.

Jacquie Dunworth, a sophomore at the University of Washington, made another argument for California students leaving the state involving UCs, describing these public in-state options as difficult to get into, particularly schools in desirable locations.

“If UCs were easier to get into, I probably would have stayed in state,” Dunworth said. “They’re really prestigious which is why they are so hard to go into, but I think it is kind of ridiculous that such a small number of people per high school get accepted— I remember not many got into UCLA or UC Berkeley from our school. The fact that UCs are so much less expensive than my school now also sucks even though they are similar in education level. I think more California kids should have the option to get in-state tuition and be accepted to UCs than go out-of-state for a similar education.”

To see if Dunworth’s mentioning of the difficulty of UCs to get into was correct, I looked up the acceptance rates of the five most popular UC schools to apply to in 2018. Here is what I found for 2017 fall acceptance rates— UCLA (16%), UC San Diego (34%), UC Irvine (37%), UC Santa Barbara (33%), and UC Berkeley (17%).

California State Universities (CSUs) are the other “state school” options for students. Two of the most popular options for students from my high school to apply to were Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and San Diego State (both have 35% fall 2017 acceptance rates).

All of this research completely shocked me and I began to realize that many schools in California, especially desirable “state schools”, are incredibly hard to be accepted into.

USC and Stanford were the only private schools I mentioned, and all other California schools I referred to have an acceptance rate of below 40%. If a student from California hopes to attend a desirable “state school” option, this is legitimately difficult to accomplish.

Among other reasons, I learned that students’ desire to attend a football school or a UC option truly is a driving factor causing many students, even me, to leave our home state for college.